Birmingham, Alabama and Leon, Guanajuato Mexico – 06 March 2019 – The Kirchner Impact Foundation is pleased to announce that the Kirchner Food Fellowship is now accepting applications for two cohorts – a US/Canada-based cohort and a Central Mexico-based cohort. Launched in 2014 to develop a new, low-cost model for allocating capital in underserved markets, the program today is recognized as one of the world’s most innovative capital markets initiatives.
The US/Canada-based cohort will be similar to prior year cohorts. The new Mexico-based program, which will be focused on the agriculturally rich Central Mexico region, is part of a collaboration with the city and state governments of Leon and Guanajuato and is expected to be a permanent part of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “We believe that this program can have a great impact on our region and are excited to be working with Kirchner to make it a reality, stated Adriana Ruiz Pérez, Director of Entrepreneurship and Talent Management of the Municipality of León and Director of the Central Mexico program. In addition to the program Kirchner will conduct an informative impact investment academy for a select number of participants as well as an agtech prize event for startups in the region over the coming months. More details on Central Mexico-based program will be released soon.
Candidates for both cohorts must be enrolled in university in North America and be self-motivated, hard-working and possess a passion for solving global ag-related problems by harnessing the power of socially-responsible for-profit companies. The program, which is built around the fall and spring academic calendars, will select two 3-person teams of students. The teams work virtually and gather in person periodically for more intensive interactions with the directors, advisors and sector thought leaders. The program is demanding and applicants should expect to devote 10-15 hours per week to the fellowship. Those interested in applying can visit the website here.
“I can say without hesitation that the Kirchner Food Fellowship has changed my career trajectory. I knew the experience would be valuable, but I couldn’t imagine how much I would learn from my colleagues and how meaningful I would find the work, added Hattie Brown a Masters of Science candidate at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “What we’re doing is pretty disruptive, to use a term of the moment, in that we aim to evaluate companies within a narrow sector for financial return and social, environmental and economic impact in a very compressed time frame.”
Previous Fellows that have participated in the program come from some of the leading agriculture institutions: UC Davis, Texas A&M, Cornell, Guelph, Auburn, NC State, CINVESTAV Irapuato and Rutgers; as well as leading business and policy institutions such as Harvard, MIT, University of Chicago, John Hopkins and UNC Chapel Hill. The Fellows who have taken part in the program have gone on to start their own businesses and to work with organizations like the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), World Food Programme, Syngenta and the Bridgespan Group.
“One of the core components of the Fellowship’s success has been our process of selecting complementary skillsets and diverse backgrounds to enable the Fellows to rapidly form excellent working relationships and to function as a cohesive investment team,” stated Blair Kirchner, Director. “We are humbled to be able to recruit for two cohorts simultaneously for the first time and look forward to reviewing the vast pool of highly qualified candidates.”
The Kirchner Food Fellowship is made possible through the support of 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.
“We have benefited an incredible amount in just a few months since the Kirchner Food Fellowship investment, added Irving Rivera, CEO and Co-Founder of Solena, a Mexican based biotechnology research company that seeks to increase and monetize the biological capital (microorganisms) of agricultural soils and ecosystems through the materialization of science. “Their ability to open doors, provide operational perspective and impart their decades of experience is invaluable, we have reconfigured and accelerate our strategy to become global. Solena’s growth trajectory and positive impact on agriculture in Mexico has also significantly improved as a result of their investment.”