PepsiCo has initiated a new effort to fight childhood hunger while supporting women-led small businesses. The initiative is a joint effort between Food for Good, PepsiCo’s commitment to advance food security through collaboration in communities where we live and work, and WomanMade, a PepsiCo platform focused on advancing women in the food and beverage industry. PepsiCo seeks to partner with women-led food businesses to feature their healthy products in nutritious meal packages that are delivered to kids in need. The Chicago Defender spoke with Devaunshi Mahadevia, Co-Founder of WomanMade, and Lucie Dufour, Marketing and Communications Manager, Food for Good.
Food for Good was started in 2009. Why now, in 2021, has PepsiCo decided to partner with women-led businesses in the food and beverage industry?
Devaunshi Mahadevia (D.M.): As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, 1 in 6 children are in a state of food insecurity, and 1 in 4 women face the risk of leaving the workforce. We recognize these devastating impacts, and so Food for Good and WomanMade saw an opportunity to come together to fight childhood hunger while also supporting women’s economic empowerment. One key part of our program is applicants must have a social impact through their business. For example, one of our partners, Michele Liddle, founder of Perfect Granola, donates 5% of its profits to homeless shelters, food banks, and nonprofits. What is important to our partnership is that not only are we working to fight childhood hunger, but we are also trying to uplift the female founder community while doing so. We want to make sure that all our participants have the notion of paying it forward.
Lucie Dufour (L.D.): We are a social enterprise whose mission is food security and, in the U.S., specifically focused on childhood hunger. One of the best ways to extend our mission is to buy products from companies with the same values as us. We want to use our purchasing power with true intent. Women are super focused on the mission and are creating companies out of the need they see in the world. That is why Devaunshi, and I wanted to come together, by way of WomanMade and Food for Good, to identify more companies like Perfect Granola to help invest in women-owned businesses and tackle food security in our country at the same time.
Please explain the dynamic between PepsiCo, WomanMade, and Food for Good.
WomanMade and Food for Good are two separate entities at PepsiCo. WomanMade is a platform that unites PepsiCo’s efforts to support women’s economic advancement in the food system, which could range from female farmers to women in the supply chain to women starting their Food brands. A big part of the WomanMade platform is a community that we have launched on Hello Alice (almost 4k members). This is an effort we kicked off in 2018 and officially launched in 2019 at the Women in the World conference for several reasons. And one of those reasons is from the shocking statistic that only 2.2% of venture capital dollars go to female founders and only 0.2 % to diverse female founders. Last year in the U.S., 1800 women-owned businesses were launched every single day, and 64% of those by women of color. Look at the power that exists – these women businesses have access to such little funding and yet can do such incredible things. PepsiCo, WomanMade, and Food for Good collaborated to address the questions put on the table in the planning phase: What would the world look like if women were given the same opportunities as men? What can we do to shift this current reality into one we want to see? How can we, in some small way, level the playing field and advance gender equality in entrepreneurship?
March was National Nutrition Month and Women’s History Month. We thought this was the perfect time to bring our two platforms together and achieve independent yet joint missions. WomanMade and Food for Good desire to help bring together all the various works people at PepsiCo do to advance food security and women’s economic empowerment.
For more information on this initiative and to apply, please visit https://www.pepsicofoodforgood.com/. Join the WomanMade community on Hello Alice here.
Contributor Kim Durden is a food writer and owner of Divine Dine Food Tours and DivinE320, an online marketplace featuring themed and custom gift boxes. She also has a lifestyle blog called Simply Divine.