This year’s 40th Anniversary Pamoja Gala was about celebrating togetherness and all that we can achieve together. With the many challenges of the past couple of years, it felt good to be able to celebrate together, in-person, for the first time since 2019. With close to 300 supporters in the room, we were grateful to see those we hadn’t seen in a few years as well as many new faces to share and celebrate 40 years of impact, together.
In the spirit of “Pamoja,” the Swahili word for “together,” we were thrilled to honor three special organizations with awards to recognize leaders across our Minnesota community who are improving the lives of many, both locally and internationally.
The George Ewing Award
The first award of the night, the George Ewing Award, was aptly named after our founder. George Ewing was a deeply thoughtful man who created Bountifield in 1981 as Compatible Technology International (CTI) after he retired as one of the top engineers at General Mills.
Just like our founder, Dr. Bernhard van Lengerich and his family have shown their passion and dedication to helping people through access to agricultural technology. Bernhard van Lengerich also worked at General Mills as their Chief Science Officer and VP of Technology Strategy. He is a recognized food scientist around the world, a guest lecturer, a leader in plant-based proteins, and so much more. Upon his retirement, Bernhard brought his own thoughtfulness and vision forward to establish the Seeding the Future Foundation with his family.
Through the foundation, the van Lengerich family is committed to seeding initiatives that accelerate technology and innovation to make our global food system healthy and sustainable for everyone. The foundation is advancing nutrition, policy and governance, and innovation to support healthy people and a healthy planet. Accepting this award, we were pleased to welcome Dr. Jessica Jarnot, a board member of the family foundation, and a leading neurologist here in Minnesota.
The Pamoja Award
We named our second award of the evening the Pamoja Award to recognize a local organization whose membership works to build community here in Minnesota while connecting wither others abroad. Minnesota Africans United (MAU) works tirelessly to close opportunity gaps for the diaspora community representing 54 different countries in Minnesota. MAU is also creating more trade opportunity and cultural exchange between Africa and the U.S., particularly with our state of Minnesota. Accepting the award was MAU’s CEO Basil Ajuo, who is originally from Cameroon and is a leading voice in Minnesota policy circles across multiple sectors.
The She Feeds Africa Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
Our third and final award of the evening was named after our program initiatives that support women food and agricultural entrepreneurs across Africa. The “She Feeds Africa” Entrepreneurial Spirit Award was in honor and appreciation of Hoyo for exemplifying successful entrepreneurship and community through African food and culture. Hoyo, the Somali word for “mother,” is a local Minnesota food company that employs Somali mothers to make, freeze, and distribute Sambusas (an important Somali cultural cuisine) to grocery stores across the Twin Cities. With this award, we celebrate their mission to share a piece of their culture while providing for their families. Accepting the award was Co-Owner and Co-Founder Mariam Mohamed.
Our Pamoja Gala was an all-around success in bringing people together to celebrate not only Bountifield’s impact but to recognize these incredible organizations doing amazing work for their communities. Special thanks to our Master of Ceremonies Jina Penn-Tracy, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Centered Wealth, for hosting our program with great enthusiasm and energy and to our keynote speaker Efe Ukala, Founder of ImpactHER for her insightful words and inspirational story on how generations are impacted by investing in women and mothers in Africa. We couldn’t have done it without them.
If you’d like to contribute to our spring fundraiser, it’s not too late to make a donation. Make a gift today toward our 40th Anniversary Spring fundraiser.