Leon, Guanajuato Mexico and Birmingham, Alabama 19 August 2020 – The Kirchner Food Fellowship, an initiative of the Kirchner Impact Foundation, today announced the selection of seven new Fellows across their two 2020-2021 cohorts, one based in the U.S. and one based in Mexico. This represents the seventh year of the program, now totaling 29 fellows, with the majority being female.
“Our selection process gets more and more difficult each year as the program’s profile grows, expanding our remarkable applicant pool,” commented Blair Kirchner, Director. “The fellowship will commence in early September, concurrent with the next Kirchner Investment Academy, a unique program designed to demystify investment for entrepreneurs and young professionals.”
This year, the importance of the program has been greatly highlighted by COVID-19 and the worldwide focus on food security, from organizations, countries and regions. The program combines access to decades of institutional impact investment experience and the innovative problem based learning approach honed over the last seven years to challenge the student investment teams to source, negotiate and execute a fully discretionary impact investment decision.
The program is also pleased to announce that industry veteran Sylvio Petto Neto has joined the fellowship’s Director team. Sylvio brings over 25 years of international experience in the Agribusiness sector, including prior work with Cargill, Syngenta and FMC Corporation. In addition to his Fellowship role, Sylvio serves as Managing Director with Kirchner Group’s Agriculture and Food team.
Fellows for the 7th year of the Kirchner Food Fellowship – U.S. are:
Rachel is pursuing her MBA at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about bringing together her experience in venture capital, operations and finance to build a healthier, more sustainable food system.
Yinuo (Jenny) Zhang
Jenny is pursuing a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree at Georgetown University with a focus on global business and finance. She is interested in the nexus of business, sustainability and technology.
Eric is pursuing a Masters of International Business at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His studies focus on international finance, capital markets and development economics. He has worked in innovation and its funding throughout his professional career.
Fellows for the 2nd year of the Kirchner Food Fellowship – Mexico are:
Karla Mariana Reséndiz-Contreras
Karla is a graduate student at UAQ (Autonomous University of Queretaro) in Queretaro, Mexico, where she earned a BSc in Agroindustrial Engineering. Currently she is working on a Masters in Plant Sciences at Wageningen University and Research.
Abigail Napsuciale Heredia
Abigail is currently pursuing her BSc in Biotechnology Engineering at Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Guanajuato, México. She is also Co-founder and Executive Director of BioLaunch, an organization that seeks to promote and develop the bio-entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Aydée Araceli Tirado Meza
Aydée is an agronomist from Queretaro, Mexico. She gained her B.Sc. in Engineering in Agronomy from Tecnologico de Monterrey. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, she was part of the HUB Explora program at her alma mater, and she is now undertaking a new project focused on urban agriculture and community engagement.
Rafael Quijada Landaverde
Rafael is a Graduate Associate and doctoral student in the Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership program at The Ohio State University (OSU). He earned an MSc in Agricultural Education from Texas Tech University (TTU) and a BSc in Environment and Development from Zamorano University (Honduras).
The Kirchner Food Fellowship is made possible through the support of partners such as Innovation Direction of the municipality of Leon, the Secretariat of Agrifood and Rural Development of the state of Guanajuato, individual donors and Kirchner Group, a boutique firm that provides advisory, operational and M&A support to small and medium sized businesses and their investors as well as asset management services. Kirchner has a three decade history working with agriculture and food companies from start up to exit and is considered one of the leading boutique groups in the sector. The Fellowship is sponsored as part of its ‘returning’ initiatives and capitalizes on Kirchner’s unprecedented track record and network in the sector.
The Kirchner Food Fellowship also expects to extend, for a third year, their collaboration with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). The collaboration, focused on the US cohort, encourages innovation and agricultural productivity by partnering Kirchner Fellows with FFAR Fellows in Agricultural Sciences, a fellowship supporting the research and professional development of future food and agriculture scientists.
“Access to food is the most basic of building blocks towards a more equal society. Unfortunately, despite the technological advancement we’ve seen in the industry over the last 50 years, not everyone has access to healthy, sustainable food. I believe that for-profit business is uniquely positioned to address this challenge, to usher in a new wave of innovation to agriculture, and to ultimately drive the change needed to feed 10bn people by 2050,” commented Rachel Resek. “As a Kirchner Fellow, I’m incredibly excited for the opportunity to support entrepreneurs & businesses at the forefront of this challenge.”