05/05/19 – M&E Plan, Logic Model, and SROI

M & E Plan:

Logic Model:

*With Assumptions:

  • Children will continuously eat enough of our therapeutic food to improve their nutrition levels
  • Children will enjoy eating our food
  • Mothers will be willing to pay for our food
  • Nurses and CHWs will continue to monitor malnutrition

Social Return on Investment:

Health spending encompasses 9% of Sierra Leone’s national budget, and mothers and children under 5 receive free healthcare. Additionally, Sierra Leone has one of the higher GDPs of underdeveloped countries, but is lower in terms of health, education, and standard of living. If our product sold at just 500 units/day in the beginning, this would impact approximately 167 children under the age of 5. [2] With that being said, SROI does not include saving the government money. Our product aims to improve the micronutrient levels in children and limit the number of chronically malnourished kids. Malnutrition causes issues with a child’s cognitive development, so if we can impact around 150 children’s nutrition levels, those 150 children will have more of an ability to learn and succeed in school and eventually contribute to the economy. Well nourished children are also less susceptible to disease because their immune system are more healthy, so our product could impact savings to health services in Sierra Leone. Because families are not responsible for paying for their child’s healthcare when they are under the age of 5, they are not necessarily saving money they would spend on healthcare. Our product will be at least five times cheaper than other therapeutic foods, like Bennimix, but because they are not responsible for paying for healthcare until after their child is over 5, it cannot be used to truly quantify the success of our product. It is difficult to give a value of our SROI ratio, but it is something we will continue to research and try to quantify.

References:

  1. https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR297/FR297.pdf
  2. https://www.afro.who.int/sites/default/files/2017-08/Sierra%20Leone%20Health%20Sector%20%20Performance%20Report%202016.pdf

 

04/30/19 – Funding Sources & Income Statements

  • For funding sources, we have compiled the following after some research:

In the design phase, these are two resources that could fit well for our project:

ASPEN Nestlé Health Science Enteral Nutrition Research Grant  https://www.nutritioncare.org/Research/ARRF/Nestlé_Health_Science_Enteral_Nutrition_Research_Grant/

The ASPEN Rhoda’s Research Foundation this year introduced a new grant opportunity, the Nestlé Health Science Enteral Nutrition Research Grant.  The focus of this grant is to address nutrient intake in the critically ill.  This would fit as an option for our malnutrition product because it supports projects trying to address clinical problems due to nutrition.  The budget of the grant is up to $50,000 for a year of research, and this money would help us advance our product development by funding ingredients, supplements, cooking supplies, shelf life testing, and more.

ICATCH Grant  https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/Sections/Section-on-International-Child-Health/Pages/ICATCH-Grants.aspx

The ICATCH grant is a possible source of funding for our malnutrition product because they support projects that are developing a product that improves the lives of children in low-income countries (https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/Sections/Section-on-International-Child-Health/Pages/ICATCH-Grants.aspx). The grant is for a total of $6,000 over the course of 3 years and can be used for the development and implementation of the product into the country. This year specifically, the applications focusing on infant health are being prioritized over adolescents. This money will go towards acquiring necessary supplies such as micronutrient supplements, ingredients for our product, and cooking supplies.

In the dissemination phase, two resources that are applicable to our project for funding are:

VentureWell DEBUT Grant https://venturewell.org/debut/

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and VentureWell are funding the DEBUT (Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams) challenge, which is a grant application for undergraduate students working on innovative solutions to unmet health and clinical problems.  This fits into our project since we are developing solutions to address malnutrition in children in developing countries.  Teams of students submit proposals to this challenge and can be awarded up to $20,000 in prizes for strong applicants.  This money would help in the dissemination part of our project by recognizing design achievements, and then helping fund marketing and economic feasibility to advance the products.

Izumi Foundation Grant  http://izumi.org/funding-grants/recent-grants-awarded/

The Izumi foundation (http://izumi.org/funding-grants/recent-grants-awarded/) is a great opportunity to receive funding for our venture project. The foundation is dedicated to supporting projects that create lasting solutions to critical problems in developing countries, such as malnutrition.  The foundation has even funded a similar venture focused on malnutrition based in Rwanda, which means they would likely support more work in this topic with a strong enough application.  In the past, projects have been funded for anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000. We will write a proposal for funding that will be used to train and pay the initial workers for our venture. This would be a funding source that we would apply for in the future after we have finalized our products and determined that the product would be popular in Sierra Leone.

  • Our team has compiled a detailed income statement for the next two years (in six month intervals) of our venture, with made assumptions underlying our model:

In order to create an income statement for our products we evaluated the cost of goods sold (COGS), overhead costs, profit, and revenue. At this point, we are still somewhat unsure of exactly how our product will be manufactured because we have a few different recipes and are unsure of what equipment we will need. One possibility is that we rent our own manufacturing space, and another is that we rent space or facilities in a restaurant that is already operating in Sierra Leone. We performed the income statement for

For COGS, we made a few assumptions. First, the population of Makeni is around 125,000. https://www.statistics.sl/images/StatisticsSL/Documents/final-results_-2015_population_and_housing_census.pdf Based on census data, we estimated that the population includes around 5,000 children below the age of 2 https://sierraleone.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Population%20structure%20Report_1.pdf. If 75% of these children consume our product 3x per day, we need to make around 11,250 units per day. In early stages, we will assume that we are only making around 500 units per day. The quantities are slightly inaccurate because they are they quantities we need in order to make around 1/2 cup of our pudding which is slightly more than the actual serving size of the unit. So, these costs are actually overestimates. With that being said, we did not include general kitchen utensils and equipment (tables, trays, other packaging materials) that may be necessary. The information for COGS is shown below (assuming 500 units per day).

*see first chart*

Overhead costs that we will definitely need to consider are electricity and rent. It will also be useful to have a supervisor that can oversee how our product is selling and how children and families like our product.

*see second chart*

With this information, we were able to calculate our projections every six months. We assumed that we would produce 500 units/day for the whole two years, but ideally, we will have the resources to produce more as time goes on. For example, if we produced/sold 1,000 units per day in Year 2, we would have a greater profit in Year 2.

*see third chart*

 

4/5/19 – Guy Kawasaki & Our Business Model

After listening to Guy Kawasaki’s talk on the Art of the Start, here are my takeaways and how they will help shape my venture:

  1.  “Polarize People” — When Kawasaki discussed this concept of polarizing people, it really stuck out to me.  He stressed eliminating ordinary people and ordinary ideas, and trying to think outside the box.
  2.  Hire people that are “infected”  — This point connects to the last, except it stresses more on who you want to surround on your team and partner network.  It emphasizes incorporating people who actually care about the project and the venture enough to get things done.
  3. Having meaning in your venture.
  4.  Avoid the “bozos”
  5.  Stay in tune with goals by recognizing milestones and things that are accomplished.

Seanna, Matt, and I composed this business model for our project:

02/10/19 – Stakeholders & Credibility

When evaluating who our major stakeholders are, there is an entire tree with branches and branches of sources, for many different motivations.  I think the ones that stand out the most would be ourselves, Khanjan and Lori, World Hope International, consumers, and even the people we will buy our product ingredients from in country.  Of course, given all the passion, research, time and motivation our group has put into this project already, we all individually and holistically are highly invested.  My biggest motivating factor is probably out of a little bit of selfishness—I want to be behind the minds and hands and creations that have an impact in the world and utilize the technical skills I am studying, as well as teach me the business intricacies behind developing a project from start to finish.  My group as a whole is also certainly fervent about contributing a potential solution to a major, devastatingly all-too-common phenomenon occurring in Sierra Leone.  As for Khanjan and Lori, as our professors and mentors I would assume(and hope) they are motivated by our potential success.  They want to be a part of an inspiring project, just as we do, but they also want to help students grow and expose them to real life problems to help structure our professional development further and further.  They, themselves, continue to invest a ton of commitment to our project, as well.  World Hope is definitely a large stakeholder in our project as they continue to provide network connections and will be helping us over our fieldwork venture.  They have been committed to helping battle malnutrition in Sierra Leone, so supporting a project that has the potential to help makes sense.  The consumers have a large stake in our product as well, even if they are not aware yet.  We will be reliant on their input, investments, and interest.  The consumers are reliant on us to make our product tasty, affordable, attractive, and extremely nutritional.  Lastly, once our product is in the manufacturing stage, markets in-country with our necessary ingredients will be stakeholders because supplying for our product means more money and potentially more jobs for them.  It also means more business than usual which they would need to be prepared for, and we would need to be cooperative about.

Though our product is not complete, and we have not concretely decided on one route, we have many ways we are continuing to validate and enhance the credibility of our products.  Thus far, a main source of credibility stems from our network of professionals in various fields.  From Allieu Bangura at WHI, to Tei Mukunya at Azuri Health, to Gabby Gunderman and many others, we have a decent track of input and advice from professionals on how we should keep advancing our project.  We are also planning on contacting a sensory specialist, potentially John Hayes and Greg Ziggler, and a nutritionist very soon.  All of these people help defend routes we take, choices we make, and how we are going to pull it all off.  Moreover, by working with Professor Pinter on AMPL codes, we have been able to explain calculations and recipe choices from a nutritional perspective.  The program allows us to input the necessary food restrictions and bars to reach our goal with the most cost effective option.  Finally, once our product is able to be taste-tested and displayed and “advertised” we will be able to gage in-country opinion of itis it interesting, exciting, are consumers willing to buy it, etc.  We can perform and distribute polls to show how our product is being received by others, even children and parents locally for taste and texture preferences.  This will help validate our recipe choices and eventual packaging.

02/08/19 – Retreat Takeaways

 

When developing a product to combat malnutrition in Sierra Leone for the 6-24 month age group, cultural issues are certainly our most prominent barrier.  For starters, families in Sierra Leone are used to cooking the same meals for generations and serving it to their entire family without seeing any immediate issue—okra stew, cassava bread, and lots of rice, for instance—if this is what the parents grew up eating and they are just fine, who’s to tell them to change their ways?  And more importantly, how can we not only convince them to supplement their meals, but moreover, buy our product instead of anything else on the market.  In order to try and differentiate our product and also simplify it for consumers, the next obstacle for us to tackle would be scarce access to clean water.  If we could make a product that entirely cuts out the process of retrieving and boiling water to prepare a meal for their children, it might be easy enough for them to want to buy and thus, easier to integrate into their dietary habits.  A third cultural barrier would stem from marketing.  How can we get our product to be appealing enough that mother’s see the need to go out of their way, purchase our product, and feed it to their children, instead of something that is already a part of their normal routine and in their household.  Will it be adaptable and will it be practical for the consumers.  It is hard to do this when our product is designed for children as young as 6 months old, because they cannot speak for themselves and convince the mothers to buy something out of pure want.  Therefore, our product will have to be simple and appealing nutritionally and commercially to the parents if we want to be successful. 

I think when it comes to issues like habit, traditional diet, and attraction toward products, these things are frequently seen even in America.  People generally do not like change, and that is simply because you cannot change an entire culture.  What one group may see as wrong and need fixing, another may have a completely viable reason for maintaining.  Like the example in the Ted Talk that discussed perspectives and how cities here divide areas by naming and numbering streets, whereas some Asia countries divided areas by numbering the blocks between the streets.  Moreover, when you break this down to a dietary standpoint, as a daughter of two Irish immigrants I definitely see a meal pattern in my household.  Relatively, growing up my mom and dad would cook a family dinner for a Sunday night with the same basic componentsthere would always be a roast chicken, possibly ham, tons of mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts, Irish peas, maybe a stew.  For breakfast we would have the cliché Irish-hash with eggs, bacon (not American bacon), meat pudding, potato pancakes and hash.  That is not to say my parents cannot cook anything else, it’s just the typical way we eat.  That’s how my parents were raised and now that’s how I’ve been raised.  I think if you told my parents to stop feeding me potatoes all the time, it would not be an easy fight.  And that’s obviously a silly example but conceptually, this is how I think of how hard it will be to change Sierra Leone diets.  Finally, the simple law of attraction to products is exceedingly prominent in such an affluent country like America, too, of course.  What appeals to the eyes of little kids, and what people want for a reason of status, or thrill, or pleasure, is pretty universal, so that is definitely seen in markets here.

I would say what will be leveraged to address community and market problems ties back to their cultural barriers.  While it will be challenging to come up with a product that skips any water-related preparation, if we do, it should be highly marketable because it would be simple and easy to use.  Moreover, differentiating our product from ones like BenniMix may originally be hard, but with the water component removed, packaging an attractive, child-friendly product will increase overall appeal immensely.  Finally, mothers want to feed their kids something delicious and something they love.  So, if our product is nice and tasty, mothers will probably want to keep buying it to make their kids happy, and in time will reap the benefits of the supplemented product, which should keep them buying more and more, in theory.

When comparing the different challenges and resources in Africa versus America, there are many overlapping present ones that will effect our product development.  Firstly, the recipe: all of our components in our recipe ideally need to be products typically sourced in Sierra Leone.  These ingredient options, therefore, are vastly different than what we are used to in America, and make it a bit challenging to know how to combine foods to make the best taste, texture, and nutrient profile.  Secondly (and third), packaging: when researching a package that will allow the product to be completely pre-prepared and need no additional work done by the consumer, cost and material resources are definitely two major things in question.  When you compare the resources and cost to produce something, it is usually way more expensive and elaborate than what we would want to make in Sierra Leone in order to stay in budget and still accomplish our goals.

01/25/19 – Motivation

When my sophomore year at Lehigh was beginning, I started to panic.  It felt like so many of my friends began working under a professor doing research, or were being pursued for an internship, or had returned from some elite shadowing opportunity over the summer.  And I sat and looked at my schedule and thought…what is this for?  Just more credits and credits and credits—the same systematic processes that is classwork, I’ve been doing since 5 years old.  And as I saw friends and peers begin to engage in such exciting opportunities, I questioned how I can do that.  Certainly it’s true that these things look great on a resume and help diversify oneself in career applications, but apart from that, it was purposeful.  It’s real life applications in the field and in your face.  All these classes we are required to take, while exceedingly crucial to any success, become a bit melancholy.  I was longing for a reason to stick it outto be reminded that there’s an end to homeworks and exams, and there’s a place where impact finally begins.  Like many of my peers in CINQ 396 stated on Tuesday night, this is our passion.  When Professor Herz emailed me about an opening on a 397 project, I was ecstatic.  I felt like this was my chance to finally apply my learned technical skills with my innate drive for something bigger.  Since joining, I have not only assured these feelings, but have also realized how much more there is to gain.  I am learning more about business and marketing and product development faster and more efficiently than I ever would have without this class.  Yes, as a bioengineering we are learning a wide range of information applicable to my major, but not so much those little things that overlap from others.  And in the real world, its the culmination of ALL of those skills that lend to success.  When I heard the opportunities offered from being a Global Social Impact Fellow, applying was a no-brainer.  I get to continue to work on what I am passionate about, continue leading an effort for real-world change, and continue working with project partners and mentors I love.  But not just that, I am also given an entire class (CINQ 396) focused particularly on further developing those “little thing” skills from all facets of sustainable impact AND an incredible field work opportunity in Sierra Leone.  Given the effect and pride this project has given me in just one semester already, I cannot imagine the gratitude and satisfaction I will feel after completing this opportunity and becoming an immensely more well-rounded student.  I think the experience given to GSIFs to work on the ground in our country of focus is an opportune time it learn more about culture and how it effects sales, success, and sustainability.  It is imperative these things be taken into account when developing a project, but it is hard to know what’s truly going on if you have not been exposed to it first hand.  This class will allow full immergence into the culture of Sierra Leone so we can better serve the general public in our efforts to fight malnutrition with our product.

With the data for Kenyan optometrists being as little as one to one million people, my first instinct to help enact change would be to initiate and fund educational programs.  Having the government fund programs like this increases the opportunity for jobs as well as the number of people able to sign off on prescription glasses.  This starts a ripple effect, where more doctors means more prescriptions, which means higher demand of a product, equaling more distribution.  Distribution efforts, in turn, should also first be  funded by government initiatives to get the ball rolling and help establish more reachable networks in communities in Kenya.  Another path for solution could potentially be organizing case studies for different communities such that those people are given direct access to the necessary doctors and resources to get eyeglasses and improve their day to day lives.  The only risk factor with this approach is that without up-keep, these solutions tend to be temporary and not always reliable in the long term.  However, with maintenance from established organizations or the U.N., this could be a very good way of getting resources out and cycling in the community.  Hopefully, these ideas would start a chain reaction and draw more attention to the issue by showing how a little help can go a long way in improving the lives of these people.