Food For Mzansi's co-founders Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens moments after receiving two awards from WAN-IFRA, the global organisation for the world's press.

Eleven months after our official launch, Food For Mzansi received two awards at the African Digital Media Awards – the most prestigious competition for media publishers on the continent.

WAN-IFRA, the global organisation of the world’s press, announced Food For Mzansi as Africa’s Best Digital News Start-up and the runners-up for Best Social Media Engagement for the groundbreaking work done in partnership with YehBaby Marketing, a digital and social media agency.

The awards were presented during the Digital Media Africa conference held in Johannesburg. Speakers at this prestigious gathering aimed at exploring new digital models and how best to engage loyal readers, included François Nel from the Digital Editors Network in the UK, Pamella Sittoni from the Nation Media Group in Kenya, Ole Werring from Amedia AS in Norway and Sebastian Esser from Steady Media in Germany.

Vincent Peyrègne, the Paris-based CEO of WAN-IFRA, says, “We’re really excited to see the success of African news startups like the Daily Maverick and Food for Mzansi, alongside impressive projects from bigger players like the BBC and Media24. These awards show the potential for digital news to be not only engaging and innovative, but also financially sustainable.”

From the left is Ivor Price, Vincent Peyrègne (CEO of WAN-IFRA, Chris Roper (deputy CEO of Code4Africa) and Kobus Louwrens.

A senior strategy consultant, Nomusa Taylor-Dube from Kenya, says as a competition judge she was highly impressed by Food For Mzansi’s “commitment to engage with young people to address representation and really using technology tools to bring all that together to create opportunities and a narrative on the continent and in South Africa that promotes diversity for young farmers”.

Food For Mzansi co-founder Kobus Louwrens says, “Building Food For Mzansi has been hard, but unbelievably satisfying work, along with our incredible team and supportive partners in agriculture. The recognition from WAN-IFRA and Digital Media Africa comes at the perfect time, as we are preparing to level up for year two!”

Louwrens’ sentiments were echoed by co-founder and editor-in-chief Ivor Price. “There’s no democracy without great journalism, and ultimately that’s what we do. We’re passionate about finding innovative ways to use the power of journalism to create social cohesion through agriculture. Our sincere thanks to the VKB Group and all the other leading agricultural enterprises supporting Food For Mzansi.”

Dawn Noemdoe, editor of Food For Mzansi.

Food For Mzansi editor Dawn Noemdoe says: “This recognition is truly unbelievable. The support and positive feedback from all our Mzansi farmers have been overwhelming and without them none of this would have been possible. I’d also like thank all our writers and contributors who continue to share all these beautiful stories of celebration and social cohesion. We are happy to see that so many people from all over South Africa are interested in learning more about where our food comes from. Their support and enthusiasm motivates us to tell great stories about trailblazers.”

Ronelle Louwrens, the CEO and creative director of YehBaby, says they are delighted to have received international recognition for their #MzansiHeroes and #MzansiFlavour social media campaigns, developed for Food For Mzansi.

“Food For Mzansi is proof that a solid digital strategy is crucial for business success. All aspects of the brand, including its marketing efforts, are aligned. Also, the journalism team share YehBaby’s passion for out-of-the-box digital strategies. This has made a major difference in how ordinary South Africans embraced Food For Mzansi despite it being a newcomer to the South African media space.”

Ronelle Louwrens, the CEO and creative director of YehBaby Digital.

The judges applauded winners in the African Digital Media Awards for what they described as in-depth, compelling and eye-opening projects. Entries were submitted from across Africa, including Burundi, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya and Egypt. Besides Taylor-Dube, WAN-IFRA’s judging panel also included other thought leaders and experts like Jude Mathurine from the Nelson Mandela University, Catherine Gicheru from Code for Kenya, Anna Nimiriano from Juba Monitor in South Sudan and Angela Quintal from the Committee to Protect Journalists in the US.

The other winners in the African Digital Media Awards are:

  • Best data visualisation: Dominion, Code for Africa, South Africa
  • Best digital project to engage younger and/or millennial audiences: M&G 200 Young South Africans,Mail & Guardian, South Africa
  • Best native advertising campaign:The Anthem Project, 24.com, The Anthem Project, South Africa
  • Best news website or mobile service: Daily Maverick – South Africa
  • Best paid content strategy: Maverick Insider, Daily Maverick, South Africa
  • Best use of online video: “Buried Truth: Unearthing the story of murdered farmworker Adam Pieterse”, News24, Media24 – South Africa
  • Best in social media engagement: BBC Media Action Arewa, BBC Media Action – Nigeria

The winners of the African Digital Media Awards, including Food For Mzansi, are automatically entered into the World Digital Media Awards competition to be announced in June 2020 in Spain during the World News Media Congress.