Teams fighting malnutrition are looking for MBAs!

Message from Social E’ers & Extreme Affordability Alumni Soniya & Erik:

Want to help launch a compelling new technology to fight malnutrition?

The Small Scale Fortification Group is looking for two MBAs to join our team. We are a collaborative of three teams (DrinkWell, Zing, and AMaize) that emerged from the 2009 Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability course at Stanford’s

Mission. Our goal is to fight malnutrition, which plagues the developing world.  In the US, people get vitamins through fortified cereals and salt, which is the most cost-effective method to deliver vitamins to people. However, in the developing world, the rural poor cannot afford and do not have access to processed foods.  Our mission is to develop technologies that make it possible to efficiently deliver nutrients to those who cannot access centrally-processed foods.  We are exploring fortification of both water and staple foods.

Our initiative partners with (and is funded by) Project Healthy Children (PHC) PHC has established food fortification initiatives in Rwanda, Nepal, and Honduras. It was founded by successful serial entrepreneur, David Dodson, GSB ’87, who runs it in partnership with Amy Lockwood, GSB ’03.

Role. We are ideally looking for two committed MBAs to replace outgoing GSB graduates, Erik Bengtsson and Soniya Sapre.  There are two roles: one within the DrinkWell team (water fortification) and one within the Zing team (flour fortification at small-scale, rural mills).  (See Executive Summaries below for more information on each team / technology.)  The two roles are similar, with responsibilities that include:

  • Work within the Small Scale Fortification Group’s “Business Model Team,” to develop a financially-sustainable, scalable business model
  • Work closely with engineers within each team (DrinkWell or Zing, respectively) to ensure a tight connection between the technical development of the product and the strategy / business model
  • Collaborate with Project Healthy Children as they support our efforts
  • Help to shape our newly-formed collaborative as it develops its culture, systems, and working norms

We see the role as a highly-entrepreneurial leadership position.  Each team has become an eccentric family of its own and we are now forming a dynamic among the larger collaborative. We are working on a problem that has not been solved by anyone:  it is an area ripe for fresh ideas and one where there is the potential for truly significant global impact. This is also a great opportunity to gain exposure to design thinking and to take social entrepreneurship from theory into practice.  There is potential for these positions to evolve into a full-time role in the future.

We’d love to hear from you.  Please email a resume and a short explanation of the nature of your interest to: Bengtsson_Erik at gsb dot stanford dot edu and Sapre_Soniya at gsb dot stanford dot edu.


Soniya and Erik

DrinkWell – Executive Summary: DrinkWell has created a unique system to alleviate iron deficiency anemia, one village at a time. DrinkWell delivers critical nutrients to rural families by reaching them at the water pumps they visit each day. Water fortification has the ability to reach every person in a village. DrinkWell can add safe, soluble iron to water without influencing its taste, odor, or color.  The DrinkWell device will attach to community hand pumps in Kenya and meter out tiny amounts of iron fortificant solution into the stream of passing water. The device would not require an attendant nor require any additional energy source in operation. The device would also not require any behavioral change from those who use the water pump and will cost roughly $100 to produce. DrinkWell has raised funding and is scheduled to complete mechanical trials of its device in Houston and Kenya in September and October respectively.

Zing – Executive Summary: In March 2009, the team conducted a field visit to Rwanda, where malnutrition is linked to 60% of child deaths.  The team noted a critical need to efficiently deliver nutrients to the rural poor, who rely on cassava, a shrub lacking in almost all vitamins, for their sustenance. The team developed a $35 mixer that that attaches to the output of small-scale mills and evenly mixes vitamin and mineral fortificant into flour.  The mixer is designed to fit with every mill, to ensure uniform mixing, to incur minimal operating costs, and to require minimal additional effort on the part of the miller.  The device will be distributed to small-scale millers in rural areas—this is a cost-effective channel to reach families, who often visit such mills to grind their cassava into flour.  While mixers are a simple and inexpensive way to fortify staples, to date they have faced challenges in the developing world, which the team is seeking to address.  The team is being advised by several experts in the field and hopes to launch a pilot field study of its device in Africa during Fall Quarter.