Information is Power: local enterprise and technology to improve nutrition for women and children in rural Bangladesh

Women’s Information Centres: female entrepreneurs establishing businesses in remote rural communities to provide life-saving nutrition info

Photo of Kathryn Llewellyn
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

United Purpose Bangladesh

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 10,000 - 50,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Bangladesh: Bhola District Bangladesh: Laxmipur District Bangladesh: Noakhali District


Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

A 2014 health survey found that 36% of children in Bangladesh are malnourished (stunted). Inadequate household food security and diet diversity, inadequate maternal and child care, and an unhealthy environment are the main causes of stunting. Undernutrition during the first two years of life impedes a child’s full cognitive, social-emotional and motor development. Undernutrition is a leading cause of lifelong harm to productivity and earning potential in Bangladesh and is a significant contributor to rural poverty.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Our mission is to reduce malnutrition for up to 40,000 people by improving access to nutrition information and services. We will do this through our network of 'Women's Information Centres' and by developing the InfoNu mobile app and dashboard for nutrition information. 1. 18 Women's Information Centres: 90 entrepreneurs (5 women per centre) supported to establish their own business on our pilot model. A ‘one-stop shop’ for services for rural women, including access to nutrition and health services through linkages with formal and informal health providers; 2. InfoNu: dashboard and mobile app that will enable Community Nutrition Promoters to quickly identify and target at risk women and children, coordinate support measures and facilitate referral and linkages with other relevant nutrition and health services. We will work closely with healthcare providers, Community Nutrition Promoters and female entrepreneurs to ensure they know how to use the app. It will be designed with them.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

This initiative will build on the successful pilot of 20 Women's Business Centres set up in Khulna and Jamalpur Districts of Bangladesh by female entrepreneurs, in partnership with United Purpose. The impact of these Women's Business Centres has been transformative in rural Bangladesh and we believe we can make the Women's Information Centres have a similiar impact - but with the added benefit of focusing more on nutrition changes. Impact of our pilot: 1. Economic empowerment of women - women running local services for women 2. Affordable services in remote rural areas for women - providing agricultural inputs; nutrition advice; mobile charging; stationary; cosmetics; photocopying; email; health referrals; printing; birth registration documents 3. Economically sustainable - the Centres are now earning up to £110 a month 4. Wide-reaching - some of the business centres in the pilot are now reaching up to 1000 women each month 5. Technology (email/ web) accessible to women

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

1. 0% 2. 80% (our pilot was supported and funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation) 3. 0% 4. 10% (in our pilot each Women's Business Centre was able to earn approx. 120,000 Taka (£100) a month which went towards the running and maintenance costs of the centres) 5. 10% Other - United Purpose was able to invest in the development of the Women's Business Centre pilot, and also the design of the nutrition focused Women's Information Centres through contributions from it's own funds (various public/ private sources)

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Women's (economic) empowerment: bringing the market to women, women's movement outside the home is restricted, we have established women run businesses close to homes they can easily access; 'One stop shop': with a large population that the government struggles to reach with nutrition programmes we've found a sustainable foundation - fully funded through services (eg mobile charging, birth registration) we have found a sustainable way to improve access to nutrition info; Tech: sharing info w/gov

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Our work in Bangladesh has been focusing on reducing rural poverty through agricultural livelihoods - improving agricultural productivity, enhancing market access for smallholders, and ensuring landless labourers receive a living wage. We realised recently that our work has a greater impact on male than female farmers. For example, we have developed a network of 600 micro-entrepreneurs who provide agricultural services in remote rural areas (eg veterinary services; seed sales; manure/ composting) . Although we have recruited many female entrepreneurs in to this network most of the services are accessed and used by male farmers. To get round this issue, and to promote better nutrition, we developed the idea of the Women's Information Centres - women-led businesses providing information and services for women. In our pilot some centres were used by 1000 women, a transformation in access

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others

Attachments (1)

InfoNu_nutrition app.docx

Graphic of the nutrition app currently in development


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Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Interesting. Good luck.

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