There are many stakeholders in our project, and some are hard to identify without knowing exactly what our product is. The first major stakeholder of our product is the customer, including children between 6 and 24 months, their mothers, and other women with influence in the family. Our product is designed to address micronutrient deficiencies of children in this age group, but children between 6 months and 1 year require different nutrient values than a child between 1 year and 2. In order for them to want to buy this product, it must address the main 4 micronutrients: iron, zinc, vitamin A, iodine. The food needs to taste good, have a normal texture, and potentially look good in order for mother’s to buy this product and keep buying it. It also needs to be affordable. Other women and influencers in the family are important because they sometimes help mothers make decisions for the children and are the people that pass down any food taboos that mothers may believe in.
Our product will be produced and manufactured in Sierra Leone, so we will need both suppliers for ingredient of our product and laborers to manufacture and sell it. We will need to acquire our ingredients from markets and farmers in Sierra Leone. For that reason, it is very difficult to identify cost of our products. The manufacturing of our food and packaging will ideally both be done in Sierra Leone, so there must be clear instructions for how to produce our product and how to solve any problems they may face. Women will be selling our product in markets where bargaining and haggling is common. We will need to sell our product for a set price to cover our ingredients, labor, and overhead costs. Both of these groups need to be paid, and these costs will need to be budgeted out of our production cost.
Other groups in Sierra Leone like community health workers and employees at World Hope International will most likely be impacted by our project. I imagine that they will help families gain access to this product and help us stay in contact with our manufacturers and distributors.
Lastly, our team, including Professor Herz, Professor Pinter, and Khanjan are all stakeholders in the project. Our team of students (Rachel Caffrey, Matt Feryo, and Sudi Shankar) are the ones designing the product and making choices that impact its nutrition content and safety. We hope to be able to publish our findings and impact of the product, but any potential issues that could arise would lead back to us. If any changes were needed in the recipe, those questions would be directed toward us as well.
We have reached out to many different external sources for advice on our project and research thus far. Our first contact in the Fall of 2018 was Allieu Samuel Bangura, Director of Health and Nutrition at World Hope International. We explained that we were considering two different types of products, and he agreed that a supplement product like a porridge would have a better lasting impact in Sierra Leone because it is something that is already part of their culture. We have had trouble connecting with Mr. Bangura because of the time difference and conflicting schedules, so we may need to reach out to other people living in Sierra Leone for information on food prices and what consumers may like.
Nutritionists and sensory specialists can give us insight on the eating habits of children whether they do or don’t live in Sierra Leone. The types of foods a baby can or can’t eat and will or won’t like is universal. By explaining our recipes and ideas to nutritionists here, and providing our calculations for nutrition content, we will be able to gauge whether or not our product would solve micronutrient issues. A sensory specialist has insight on taste and texture preferences, characteristics that are very important to our product. By communicating with a sensory specialist, we will have a better idea of whether or not a child in our age group would consume our product.
Most importantly, I think we need to be open and honest throughout our entire research process. There definitely isn’t one right answer of what our product should be, and we can only decide what’s best by considering all of our sources and research. At this point in our project, we have a pretty solidified bouillon cube recipe and a working porridge recipe. We have gotten advice from some of our sources, but it doesn’t make much sense for us to reach out to nutritionists and sensory specialists until we are a little further along in our recipe building.