Sustainable Business Model To Solve Hunger

I was recently asked to speak at the U.S. State Department in front of many U.S. Government Agencies, International Embassies and other non-government organizations on the topic of innovative approaches to solving hunger (or food security) in the private sector. My message was the inability of the historical model of food hand outs and mass distributions to resolve the problem. We still have a billion people in this world who are malnourished.

Sometimes, you need to look to the wisdom of the past to think innovatively about the future…an ancient Chinese proverb you all have heard says:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Shipping thousands of tons of food to an area may be the right solution in a desperate situation, but this cannot be the only solution on a long term sustainable basis. The model we see achieving great success for not only our processing customer but also the local economy around them is the private sector business processing food or feed. The benefits include:

  1. Production of high quality food or feed which is sorely needed in the region.
  2. Hiring of employees creating jobs and incomes for the unemployed.
  3. Creating a market for small holder farmers to sell their production for profits and creating income for them.
  4. Processing the ag products locally assures the farm production is processed to significantly reduce post harvest losses.

We see many of our prospects as strong business people, well educated, and ready to take on this challenge of creating a sustainable business approach to uplifting the local economies and creating the food which people need right there in the communities.

However, quite often the challenge is access to capital. Instead of handouts, why not provide the necessary capital in the form of loans which can be repaid, or grants? Give these people an opportunity to help themselves with smart investments which will last for decades raising the GDP per capita and increasing the availability and income to pay for food.

As an example, I have come across recently a food processing company called Yedent Agro Processing Ventures in Sunyani, Ghana. The founder and CEO, Samuel Ntim Adu, is highly educated and experienced in working within the consumer industry in Ghana having worked with Unilever. He resigned to go out and start up his own company to provide nutritious and affordable foods for Ghana and West Africa.

Today, GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition) is supporting Yedent to set up one of the most modern and state-of-the-art plants acquired from Insta-Pro to produce instant cereals, snacks, and CSB for the country and West Africa.

Now there is a local processor creating jobs, buying local ingredients and selling locally the food which is required. All parts of the value chain are positively impacted by this company. World Food Program, USAID, UNICEF and others can now rely on this company to produce relief and interventional foods.

Governments and philanthropic organizations looking to help communities in crisis and the malnourished now has a case study to follow for successfully investing in the processing link in the chain, like Yedent, to create the economic engine required in a local region to lift all parties up in a sustainable way.

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