Small-scale Soymilk Enterprises
Tackle malnutrition & create jobs: let women & youth efficiently make affordable protein & micronutrient rich soyfoods in their communities.
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.
Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector
Secondary Focus Area
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Ghana: Accra, Tamale, Wa, Agona
Moz: Maputo, Mocuba, Chimoio
S Africa: Bergville
This 5-minute video describes one of Malnutrition Matters key technologies: the SoyCow. The SoyCow, together with a business model and business supports tools and training from Malnutrition Matters, can form the basis of a profitable micro-enterprise that can operate in small villages or cities. These micro-enterprises can produce various affordable protein-rich soy foods for under-nourished communities, and provide sustainable jobs for unskilled women. Find partner videos on youtube: 'SoyCow'
A woman entrepreneur filling the stainless-steel pressure cooker with a ground soybean mash. The SoyCow system shown allows production of 1,000 servings per day (250 ml serving) of protein-rich soymilk and can be fortified w micro-nutrients at 1/4 cent/dose. Soy yoghurt and tofu (soy kebabs) can also be easily made and sold at an affordable price for poor consumers and a profitable level for the woman entrepreneur. Boiler (black) with stainless steel core shown. No electricity required.
This chart shows the cost, revenue and profit associated with 3 hours of production with the SoyaKit in northern Ghana, based on actual recent costs and prices. Profit opportunity would be similar in other African countries. Additional detailed economic analysis is provided in a document below. Overview sheet (2-pages) of the SoyaKit is also available below.
Women training women how to operate the $300 SoyaKit system that can make 7 liters per hour of protein-rich soymilk or soy yoghurt in a basic home kitchen. The time-efficient & energy-efficient SoyaKit lets women & youth create their own jobs by profitably selling the soymilk & yoghurt in their communities for about €0.30 per liter. This price is affordable for the working poor in rural Africa & Asia, & provides protein at less than €0.01 per gram, which is half the price of eggs or dairy milk.
Children in Bolgatanga village in central Odisha, India, getting their first cup of soymilk, each with 8g of affordable protein, from the non-electric SoyCow, newly installed by Malnutrition Matters. Women and youth in the village have sustainable jobs making the high-quality soymilk and yoghurt from locally grown soybeans. One of 300 SoyCow installations worldwide.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
"World hunger is on the rise: the estimated number of undernourished people increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016" states the FAO. In spite of int'l and national efforts to address under-nutrition, millions of BOP consumers, including over 200 million children, are left out. Many of these are in rural/remote areas with little infrastructure and suffer moderate, chronic malnutrition primarily through lack of protein and micro-nutrients. Also, limited job opportunities exist in these areas for women.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
The solution is education about nutrition, affordable nutrient-dense food made locally from local produce and technology and business training that enables sustainable production of this food. Malnutrition Matters provides this education and training and deploys the SoyCow,VitaGoat,SolarFlex & SoyaKit technologies. The equipment is designed and proven to be robust and long-lasting. Sustainable jobs for women are created. Women operators make a reasonable profit, while providing affordable protein-rich food to their local community: a sustainable long-term solution to chronic malnutrition.
The SoyCow enables women to profitably produce micro-nutrient fortified soymilk for 1,000 people/day, each 1-cup serving with 8 g of whole protein, sold for 8 cents/cup, which is 40% the cost of dairy milk or eggs. No running water or electricity required. The SoyaKit($300) produces 7 L of soymilk/hr in a basic home kitchen, with very little effort or fuel. Both use local soybeans & min packaging.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
Malnutrition Matters has over 100,000 continuous beneficiaries receiving a protein-rich food supplement every day. Over 500 (mainly rural women) have income-producing jobs.
SoyCow site in Mocuba, Moz.: 2000 students. "After more than a year, the soymilk school feeding shows 3 good results: More children enter school, a higher % of children that enter do not drop out, and their academics have improved. Teachers are inspired by this program. They see an increase in attentiveness and a dramatic transformation in learning outcomes. The health posting confirms that malnutrition has gone down in the villages that receive the milk".
“I am happy to report that the death rate of children has dropped dramatically in & around the mission station. This is due to safe water and better nutrition from soymilk and okara.” (5 SoyCows)
Robert Holloway, Embangweni, Malawi
First Steps, N. Korea: 70+ SoyCows operating at 23 sites - 80,000 children get a cup of protein-rich soymilk daily.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
MM does not depend on donations or grants. We foresee the need for corporate contributions diminishing over time, as Malnutrition Matters (MM) becomes fully self-sufficient. Corporate contributions can help us reach scale faster, especially with our recent SoyaKit innovation. MM has sustained itself with over 80% of revenue in earned income for over 10 years, with prudent management and both tactical and strategic innovation. MM continues to diversify its equipment offerings and will develop more service offerings in nutrition and health assessment and training services, to meet the growing demands in these areas, and to complement our current capability to provide 'hard' services in the area of robust, low-cost food processing equipment.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
The MM initiative trains the micro-entrepreneur (women, youth) to add value to local crops, allowing people to remain in rural areas with better quality of life. This value-add produces nutrient-dense foods in remote/rural & urban areas, w no need for electricity. No profit leakage outside the community. MM enables sustainable LOCAL processing & jobs, AFFORDABLE consumption and BETTER nutrition, with current global reach and a defined path for scale-up. Bus. training and income empowers women.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
Prior to the founding, the two co-founders, worked at the same soymilk technology Company. They had a shared passion for the smallest scale of technology which would enable micro-entrepreneurs, schools and other institutions in developing countries to produce nutritious foods while creating local employment. The company they worked at placed much less emphasis on the smallest systems as the larger commercial systems proved to be more profitable. The two then founded Malnutrition Matters, which could focus on the development and implementation of small-scale systems, such as the SoyCow, which the private sector had largely ignored. THEY REALIZED ALSO THAT A NON-ELECTRIC SYSTEM WAS NEEDED TO HELP ALLEVIATE MALNUTRITION IN RURAL AREAS, IN A SUSTAINABLE WAY. This led to the collaborative development of the VitaGoat & its successful adoption by first partner Africare - the rest is history!
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?
Program Design Clarity: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details
MM works w partners in the field to incubate micro-enterprises based on local processing of soybeans into soyfoods. The beneficiaries are local entrepreneurs & local consumers of soyfoods. Consumers pay half or less than animal-source protein costs & can also receive micro-nutrients in the soyfoods. MM supplies proprietary equipment & trains the entrepreneurs in hygienic & cost-efficient production of soyfoods, & provides small-business training appropriate to low-income environments (also to local partners). The trained entrepreneurs then sell affordable nutrient-rich food to consumers in a sustainable manner for years w no additional support needed. MM provides time-tested advice for production, packaging & local distribution of soyfoods emphasizing no-cost/low-cost packaging & same-day use w no refrigeration.
MM staff & certified local contractors provide oper'ns training, business training & business-support on-site in mostly remote rural areas (see MM Global Map: > 30 countries). Recent examples are Wa in NW Ghana, Chafumbwa & other sites in Malawi, Mocuba in central Moz. and Bukoba in N Tanzania. MM delivers these eqpts and services 4 to 5 times/year, w average of 15,000 new beneficiaries/year. Over 100,000 beneficiaries continually benefit from past projects.
MM's 17 years of field experience allows design of nutrition/livelihoods programs w int'l & local partners that are most appropriate for specific countries/regions & with highest chance of sustained success.
We are interested in learning more about your initiative's broad impact on sustainable development. Please reply ONLY to the question(s) related to your above focus area.
NUTRITION: The availability of affordable micro-nutrient fortified and protein-rich soyfoods made locally can vastly improve the health and quality of life of perinatal & post-natal women, weaning infants and preschool & school-age children, esp. those that are moderately and chronically under-nourished. Local, sustainable micro-enterprises BASED ON LOW-COST SIMPLE TECHNOLOGY provide soyfoods at less than half the price for equivalent animal-based protein. This means an affordable supply, not dependent on donations, that contain the nutrients that are critically lacking in the typical under-nourished diet. Micro-nutrients such as Vitamins A, B12, C and E, folic acid, iodine and minerals such as iron & zinc are vital for proper development of infants & children & proper health of perinatal & post-natal women. These can be added to soymilk with no special mixing, at 1/4 cent per dose or less. Proper amounts of protein are also critically important in proper physiological development of children and proper health of adults.
RURAL DEV'T: MM builds capacity of local partners to enable effective local scale-up. Making entrepreneurship available empowers unskilled women through skill-building and income-earning, thereby addressing gender equality; they are then able to provide leadership in other businesses and community issues. Livelihoods with no profit leakage outside the community and with no need for transport or packaging provides max. stimulus to the local economy.
Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
MM's initiatives create value for 5 stakeholder groups. Shared value is created via focus on education, nutrition & creating sustainable local livelihoods.
1) Would-be women entrepreneurs are educated in basic nutrition, small business & hygienic food processing. They are empowered as income-earners, educators & food providers.
2) Smallholder Farmers: demand for local produce is increased thereby securing or increasing incomes
3) Under-nourished consumers can afford micro-nutrient fortified, protein-rich food thereby improving their health and social/economic capital
4) Community: economic benefits stay in the local community with no profit leakage, the community experiences improved nutrition & greater knowledge of nutrition & health
5) Local contractors and partners in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, India, Myanmar & S Africa etc have been trained in hygiene, food-processing, nutrition & small business. This capacity-building enables enrichment of many communities in Africa & Asia.
How is your initiative funded, now and over the next 5 years?
The initiative has been funded largely by sales to international and local partners (fees for service and profit margins on equipment sold). On average, over the past 10 years about 13% of funding has come from corporate sponsors and 0% from grants/donations; cost recovery now is close to 90%. Looking ahead to the next 5 years, it is expected that the business model will move to 100% cost-recovery as additional technical assistance services are added in the areas of nutrition education and low-cost nutrition status assessment.
Current partners include the African Development Bank, Ghanaian Ministry of Trade and Industry, Soybean Innovation Laboratory (U of Illinois), LUANAR (Lilongwe Univ. of Agriculture and Natural Resources).
How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the CSV Prize?
MM plans to disseminate its innovative, simple, local approach to and via organizations that are also creating shared value & achieving scale at the local level. MM would share capabilities & resources deeply with these partners. MM also plans to increase influence by forging partnerships with academic agencies that are creating shared value, such as the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation and the Arell Food Institute (U of Guelph), and deepening its current ties with the Soybean Innovation Lab (U of Illinois), leveraging their resources in market assessment and scientific impact measurement and their geographic reach, with our deep expertise in low-income environment small business and affordable, nutrient-dense food processing.
How will you leverage an investment from Nestle to expand the impact of your work?
MM would work with organizations in Africa/Asia that are creating shared value and are scaling, like Village Enterprise, Spring Impact and micro-finance agencies like Kiva and Finca; such partners would form the foundation of a systematic scale-up for MM. Demand creation, micro-finance and guided replication are the bases for effective scaling for MM. Would invest in completion of the Scaling Plan and creation of more partner-friendly tools and materials. Would add staff in HQ and Africa, to enable partnership expansion and effective response to opportunities. Would add partner-oriented nutrition education tools and low-cost nutrition status assessment capability, to better increase consumer demand and achieve whole-community development.
Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact? What’s the projected impact for the coming years? Are you planning to expand your programme into new locations? On what assumptions do you build your scale-up plans?
Main strategies: work with multiple partner types (private sector, international NGOs, target-country govt ministries, non-profits) to increase the leverage of MM's core staff.
Impact objective: maximize the number of under-nourished whose health is improved long-term.
Impact Goals are: (New Beneficiaries)
Demand creation would be enabled by investment in partner engagement: including a Scaling Plan, tools for partner capacity building. Franchise operations using the SoyCow would accelerate deployment (as already explored together w GAIN). Progressive govt ministries would be engaged to both initiate nutrition/health education programs and to deploy private-sector soyfoods enterprise programs, possibly w initial subsidies. MM's core staff would focus on program design, train-the-trainer resource dev't, technology transfer and partner empowerment. Assumptions based on current work w private, NGO and gov't partners.
Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, number of full-time vs. part-time staff, board members, etc.)? How will this team evolve as your initiative grows?
Full-time: 2 (Canada)
Part-time: 5 (Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, S Africa)
3rd-party contract fabricators: 11 staff (Thailand, China, Taiwan, India)
Board: 4 (includes senior executive at Nutrition International)
Team structure maximizes capacity-building and use of staff and partners local to target countries. HQ staff develop partnerships, facilitate fabrication, design programs, develop educ/training materials & bus. training/support resources & train the trainers. Senior management personnel in Canada have extensive non-profit and for-profit experience in developed and developing economies; President of MM was co-founder of a telecoms software company that grew to 300 employees and went public on US and Cdn stock exchanges. Together w Board, management understands the scaling challenge.
Awards: What awards or honors has the initiative received?
The Tech Award for Economic Development - Laureate (2005) www.thetech.org
World Bank Development Marketplace Winner (2007) - Micro-Enterprise for Nutrition in Rural Orissa
GAIN Social Entrepreneur (2010) - via GAIN/Ashoka Changemakers competition; one of four Social Entrepreneurs invited to GAIN's Global Business Summit
Organizational leadership: How are you influencing your field of work in the present?
MM emphasizes women's empowerment in its program design and implementation: including working w women leaders and selection and training of women entrepreneurs which shows them how to be innovative in enterprise and adopt new and sustainable practices in their community, to become women leaders. MM shares information with, and builds capacity in its international and local partners, at every opportunity. MM's website www.malnutrition.org shares information and tools for local food processing using sustainable micro-enterprise. MM continually challenges its partners and prospective partners to employ the locally affordable, economically beneficial and highly environmentally friendly practice of using plant-based foods to improve nutrition.
Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend the Ashoka Impact Boot camp and Creating Shared Value Prize Live Pitch Event at the World Water Forum 13-16 March 2018
Yes, I am available to attend the events on 13-16 March 2018