Companies commit to collaborating on – and investing in – local sourcing to strengthen Southern Africa’s food systems.

21 June 2023, Johannesburg, South Africa – Today the Southern Africa Food Systems Alliance celebrates its official launch at the Johannesburg Country Club. Companies such as Unilever and Freshmark Systems, representing 24 fresh produce markets, will be in attendance and sign a covenant to commit to local sourcing ambitions with an overarching ambition for having 80% of total viable sourcing to be from within the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region by 2033.

The Alliance, convened by IDH and U Can Grow Africa, is the first of its kind in the region. This is a business-led collaboration to invest in the transformation of Southern African food systems. Centered on the ambition for 80% of total viable sourcing to be from within the SADC region by 2033, the Alliance sets the stage for food companies to work together to unlock local sourcing and invest in the next generation farmers and food manufacturing companies.

To support the realization these ambitions, IDH will setup a South Africa-based Investment Development Hub, comprised of grant and seed financing facilities. Grant financing coupled with technical support will be employed to develop early-stage business cases, while seed capital will be invested to enable scaling.

The Alliance is calling on funding partners to co-finance development, infrastructure, working capital and trade finance required to support collaborating partners across the value chain to unlock local sourcing.


Food systems in Southern Africa face enormous challenges. Most of the regional food and agricultural sector is largely underdeveloped, dependent on imports, and lacks the enabling environment to develop, scale and attract the necessary investments. While South Africa is the center of regional agri-business, its agricultural sector has two sides: highly developed farming enterprises exist in parallel with a struggling, emerging farmer sector.

With a rapidly growing population, food security in Southern Africa will become a critical risk, a risk heightened by climate change and economic disparities in rural areas.

These challenges pose real business risks but can also present significant opportunities. The agricultural sector is also the largest employer in rural populations and is a key enabler for creating economic opportunities and improving livelihoods. To future-proof Southern Africa’s food systems, investing in the next generation farmers and food processing companies is needed to support the increased industrialization of food value chains. To address these risks and unlock opportunities at scale, it is imperative that businesses work together.

About IDH

IDH puts people, planet, and progress at the heart of trade by leveraging the power of markets to create better jobs, better incomes, a better environment, and gender equity for all. To catalyze change at scale, IDH innovates, convenes, and invests in inclusive and sustainable solutions that enable businesses to create value for people and planet, while improving their own performance. To create the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time, IDH focuses on empowering people within corporations the global financial sector and governments that have the most influence over value chains.

Headquartered in the Netherlands, IDH has around 380 employees globally, operating in 20 landscapes and 12 commodities and sourcing regions with over 1000 public and private partners. In 15 years of operation, IDH has generated over 390 M in private sector investment and support for new business models that create better jobs, better incomes, a better environment, and gender equity for all.

About U Can Grow

U Can Grow Africa (Pty) Ltd empowers and enables rural subsistence farmers to become successful agri-preneurs linked from “Seed to Label” into the mainstream local and export market.

The objective is to unlock and harness the enormous untapped potential of food systems to drive rural agro-industrial development, boost small-scale farmers’ productivity and incomes, and create additional employment in expanding segments of food supply and value chains.