Ending malnutrition in Africa through rural small-scale flour fortification.

Sanku equips small-scale maize millers to cost-effectively improve their flour with key nutrients, serving the hardest to reach populations.

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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


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1mil - $5mil

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Tanzania

Headquarters location: City

Dar es Salaam

Location(s) of impact

Tanzania: Morogoro, Dodoma, Iringa, Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Kiteto, Kongwa Rwanda: Mahama Kenya: Kakuma Malawi: Blantyre Mozambique: Tete, Nampula



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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Africans primarily eat starchy flour. Lacking key vitamins and minerals, especially in a child’s diet, results in millions of people dying every year from preventable illnesses. Sanku adds micronutrients that are scientifically proven to improve health, into the food Africans eat the most. Millers now produce quality fortified flour and families can afford to eat healthy food every day. Children get the key nutrients they need and lives are saved. Sanku identified this solution as a way to end malnutrition for millions.

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

Sanku installs a dosifier, which adds a precise amount of critical nutrients to flour, onto the small African flour mills that produce and sell the staple food families eat every day. Previous programs attempting fortification failed due to the lack of an automated technology, designed specifically for these rural mills. Sanku offsets the cost of the miller’s nutrients by bulk buying empty flour bags, which are then sold to the millers to pack their flour. The savings from each flour bag are enough to cover the entire price of the miller’s nutrients. Sanku monitors the miller’s use of the dosifier remotely through a cellular link and visits the mill if the dosifier is not in use or needs repair, as well as to restock their nutrients. Small-scale millers now address malnutrition through Sanku’s cost-neutralizing model, and are incentivized to produce quality fortified flour consistently. Both the miller and the customer benefit, and lives are saved.

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

Because small millers can't afford the additional cost of the nutrient premix, nor pass it onto the customer, Sanku designed a proven business model to neutralize the added cost and incentivize the millers. Sanku launched the bag program in December 2016. In January 2017, more than 400 Tanzanian households were surveyed, and preliminary data shows that 94% of households are now consuming fortified flour. This was a 31% increase from the year prior when Sanku’s bag program was not active. This evidence proves it is easy for rural millers to now produce quality fortified flour, and families can finally afford to buy and eat healthy food everyday. 42% of all Tanzanian children under the age of five are stunted, but because of fortification these same children will have access to the key nutrients to live healthier lives. Sanku is now reaching close to 1 million people throughout east Africa.

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

Sanku offsets the nutrient cost by bulk buying empty flour bags, creating a margin, and selling the bags to millers at market price to pack flour. The millers' savings from each flour bag are enough to cover the price of the additional nutrients. With an investment of only $5M over the next 3 years, Sanku will become sustainable by 2021. The earned income from bag sales enables Sanku to scale, free of philanthropic capital, reaching 100 million people by 2025. Currently, Sanku is largely supported by individual donors and grants. 1. Individual donations or gifts - 21% 2. Grants - 46% 3. Corporate contributions - N/A 4. Earned income - 20% 5. Other - Charity Evaluators = 13%

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

Sanku combines scalable technology and a sustainable business model to end malnutrition in Africa. Other organizations work on fortification policy assisting governments in setting standards or are involved in advocacy campaigns around the consumption of fortified flour. Sanku’s hands on market based approach owns the last mile of distribution by being the technical implementer on the ground. Sanku has built a scalable program whose success is not dependent on a government push or consumer pull.

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

Cofounder David Dodson was driving through rural Rwanda in 2008, where Project Healthy Children was implementing a large scale fortification program. As he passed by small villages and flour mills, he realized that the program would never reach the rural, very poor people who had no access to centrally processed foods. David realized that if we devised a means and technology to fortify food in the 1000s of small mills scattered over the developing world, we had a chance to impact the most vulnerable populations with a cost-effective solution that prevents disease before it happens. Felix Brooks-church was brought onboard to lead the engineering of the technology (2013 Ashoka Changemaker’s winner), and in 2013 Sanku was born.

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

  • Upon recommendation from others


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Photo of Rachel Biderman

Very important initiative to help end malnutrition.

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