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By Samuel Hinneh, Des Moines, USA, Courtesy: B4FA Media Fellowship Programme

The Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, in collaboration with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and World Food Prize Foundation has put in place a fellowship fund programme to support social entrepreneurs in addressing issues of hunger, conflict and poverty in Africa.

The fellowship fund called 40 Chances Fellows seeks to encourage innovation in developing market-based approaches that address food security in Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Guinea and South Sudan.

Launched at the World Food Prize in Iowa (October, 16-19, 2013), the programme will select four individuals with the most innovative social enterprise business plans and provide living expenses as well as start-up funds for one year to execute the ideas.

“We are thrilled that this partnership will help to empower social entrepreneurs to test new ideas that can have a positive impact in Africa,'' Tony Blair, the former British prime minister said.

“If you've got a great agricultural program and you want to deliver it, unless you've got the basic capacity at the centre of government to make the thing happen it doesn't,” he added.

Winners will be selected by a blue ribbon panel of judges and formally announced at the 2014 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa. Each of the four fellows will receive $80,000 in start-up funds and $70,000 for living and transportation expenses (a total of $150,000) for one year.

The fellowship application runs from October 17, 2013, to May 31, 2014.

“This fellowship is unique because we are investing in local ideas and partnerships across sectors, which is where we think real social innovation happens,'' Howard Buffet, the chairman of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation says.

The president of the World Food Prize Foundation, Kenneth Quinn stated that there is the need to invest in the potential for market-based solutions to solve the world's greatest challenges in hunger and global poverty.

“You have to address the relative powerlessness of those you're trying to help, and women are the least powerful among them. You have to look at what is underlying that poverty. What are the power structures, what are the barriers that any farmer, male or female, is facing and address that at the same time,” Ritu Sharma, Head of the NGO Women Thrive Worldwide said.

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