Kirchner Food Fellowship Selects 7 New Fellows to form 2 Cohorts

Innovative capital allocation program continues with international expansion

Leon, Guanajuato Mexico and Birmingham, Alabama 6 August 2019 – The Kirchner Food Fellowship, an initiative of the Kirchner Impact Foundation, today announced the selection of Fellows for two 2019-2020 cohorts, one based in U.S./Canada and one based in Mexico.

“Given the depth of talent that applied, this was the most difficult selection process in the six years of the program. We are excited to see the profile and interest in the fellowship continue to grow”, commented Blair Kirchner, Director. “We look forward to getting started with the new teams in the coming weeks as they seek to make investments in sustainable companies that will get us a little closer to that day that everyone on the planet has reliable access to healthy food.”

Fellows for the 6th year of the Kirchner Food Fellowship – U.S./Canada are:

Laura Zaim is currently pursuing her MBA at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus in finance. Laura is an environmentalist and entrepreneur working to transition the global food system.

Ephrem Woldegiorgis is studying at American University’s School of International Service (SIS) under the MA in International Development Program with an emphasis in agriculture, rural development and rural economic institutions in Sub Saharan Africa.

Brennan Costello is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln pursuing his MBA. Brennan is a Thought for Food alumni and grew up working on a production row crop farm in the rural Midwest.

Fellows for the first year of the Kirchner Food Fellowship – Mexico are:

Iris Jahel Elizarraraz-Martinez is a Plant Biotechnology PhD candidate at CINVESTAV in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. Her academic interests focus on the use of natural compounds to fight against pest and diseases in crops.

Mario Alfonso Bonal Rodríguez is a Business Innovation Master candidate at Universidad de Celaya in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico. He is also the Tech Transfer Office Coordinator at Agrobioteg Innovation Park in Irapuato.

Edgar Fernando Suarez Zamora is currently a Master in Technology innovation candidate at Universidad Iberoamericana in Leon where he is developing a technology innovation management system to help tech-based companies successfully commercialize their technologies.

Eduardo Samuel Garay is currently pursuing his MSc in Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University. He earned a BSc from Zamorano University – Honduras in Agricultural Production and joined the institution’s soils unit as a research associate.

The Fellows will have access to decades of experience in the agriculture and food sector through 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 an extensive 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 the firms ‘returning’ initiatives and capitalizes on Kirchner’s unprecedented track record and network.

“I’m passionate about transforming our global food production system and solving the pressing question of how are we going to feed 9.5 billion people in a way that respects planetary boundaries, promotes human health and protects animal welfare.,” commented Laura Zaim. “Technology is rapidly changing agriculture and redefining what it means to be a farmer and to produce food. As a Kirchner Fellow I’m excited to be at the forefront of this change and to help driven entrepreneurs bring their solutions to market.”

“The Kirchner Food Fellowship is a one of a kind opportunity! As a scientist and entrepreneur, the ability to understand the way funding works as a vehicle for growth is very important for my career,” added Edgar Fernando Suarez. “I am very excited to be part of the first international expansion of the program and truly believe its mission will have a great impact on the local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mexico.”

Kirchner Food Fellowship
The Kirchner Food Fellowship is a pioneer in the lean investment movement, harnessing the power of highly-committed millennial talent to find, fund and assist promising socially-responsible, for-profit agricultural businesses. Through the use of a “real-world, real-time, real-money” model the program has proven that it is possible for newly formed investment teams to become effective venture capital allocators in a matter of months. The combination of compressed learning time frames and low operating costs makes it possible to more cost effectively deploy smart and impactful capital in parts of the world were angel capital is needed most, leading some to describe the program as “Peace Corps meets VC”.

As the model spreads beyond North America, the fellowship partners with local groups to establish resident teams in less developed economies. The program strengthens in-region capital allocation capacity, the apex element of any healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem that is well-networked into the global financial markets. For more on the program please visit and our recent AgFunder article.

The Kirchner Food Fellowship is an initiative of The Kirchner Impact Foundation (501 (c) (3)) one of the “returning arms” of Kirchner Group, that focuses on harnessing the positive power of enterprise to make a difference in addressing some of the most important issues of today.

Steve Dauphin | Director | +1 205.602.9845 |


Kirchner Group
Kirchner Group was founded in 1985 as a boutique advisory firm and today operates various subsidiaries, providing advisory services (M&A, assessments, diligence) and operational support (interim management, workouts, turnarounds) as well as asset management (dedicated, portfolio optimization) – all leveraging a proprietary approach that dovetails domain and process expertise.

Throughout the decades Kirchner Group has been internationally recognized for its unique business model centered around creating value while promoting values: “earning while returning”. The firm has also established a reputation for building and rebuilding important business and social paradigms based
on its deep entrepreneurial orientation.

Kirchner Group’s clients and partners include early stage to mid-market companies, venture capital and private equity firms as well as family offices and some of the world’s largest insurance companies, commercial banks and institutional investors.

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Blair Kirchner | Managing Director & Co-Head of Impact Activities | +1 902.817.2405 |