GSIF Weeks 7&8 (3/18/19-3/29/19)

Ten non-obvious assumptions about our target customers (or organizations) that we need to validate:

  1. Families are consuming too much rice because they cannot afford other types of food.
  2. Mothers and children have not had success with or access to other micronutrient treatments, which is why the children are still malnourished.
  3. Mothers feed children under 1 year old 3 times per day and feed a 1-2 year old 4 times per day, so our food product will have ¼ – ⅓ of the required daily nutrients.
  4. Mothers are willing to spend 10-15 cents (around 1,000 Leones) on food for their children under 2 years old.
  5. Mothers are largely influenced by other mothers and women in the household and are less influenced by men/husbands.
  6. They value the opinion of other women in the family and usually go to mother support groups for advice. This could impact the marketing of our product. Would they listen to other mothers over a community health worker?
  7. This is a product mothers would purchase in a market setting for their children.
  8. Mothers would be willing to listen to the value of our product and could be convinced to try it.
  9. The food would require packaging and descriptions that are easy for the customer to follow.
  10. Mothers would be willing to report to CHWs or people at World Hope about the behavior and health of their child after trying/ continuing to eat our foods.

Ten hypotheses about our project that we need to test during fieldwork:

  1. First, young children would be willing to eat our pudding and bouillon product based on its taste and texture.
  2. Our product will be able to improve the health of the child. This is not something we will be able to really examine during fieldwork, but it is something we will have to consider
  3. The child will not have any adverse reactions to our vitamins.
    1. When people consume over the recommended daily amounts of vitamin intake, there are some potential side effects. One worry is that malnourished children that suddenly have access to many different micronutrients will experience these side effects even at low levels, but statistically, this should not be an issue.
  4. Similar to the first list, we hope mothers will be willing to report information about our product’s effect on their children’s health and behavior.
  5. We will be able to find our ingredients at low enough costs and in large enough quantities to manufacture enough of our product at our price point. (This is information we have discussed with employees at World Hope International, but we will need to confirm it on the ground.)
  6. Either employees or CHWs would be willing to help mothers and children use and learn the benefits of our product.
  7. Women will be willing and able to manufacture and sell our product in the marketplace.
  8. Children are not getting other micronutrients throughout the day. We are assuming children don’t get nutrients from any of the other foods they are eating, so our nutrient content will be optimized so it can be fed to children at each meal.
  9. Women will require adequate training in order to make and sell our product.
  10. Any ingredients that cannot be found in markets, like supplements, could be imported and used in our manufacturing process.
  11. Families would be willing to try a new bouillon cube in place of Maggi cubes.

What I bring to the team and how my own strengths and weaknesses have changed over the course of the class:

I think I help to bring an open mindedness to our team. I may think my ideas are great and practical, but so could everyone else, and I’m well aware of that. With that being said, I’m not afraid to stand up for the ideas I have or the direction I think we should go. I have been exposed to different leadership roles throughout high school and college that have prepared me for the organization and work of this course. This semester, I’ve been lucky to have learned what it’s like to work on a real, functioning team of members that pull their own weight. I’ve always been someone who is kind of loud and takes charge, and in the past, I’ve had to pull a lot of weight when others slacked. This semester has been great because every team member is responsible and proactive about research and design concepts, which has helped me become a better listener in a group setting. I think I still have room to grow as a team member, but I really like our group’s dynamic.

GSIF Week 6 (3/1/19-3/8/19)

Last week, we had our first presentation. We focused on our recipe design process and why we have made certain decisions throughout the semester and got pretty good feedback. In general, I think we should structure our next presentation a little differently. I think we expected different questions and had different back-up slides that we prepared for questions we were expecting. Because we have just finished each of our recipes, we haven’t been able to build a cost or business model, and that’s what a lot of the judges asked about. In order to improve our next presentation, we need to calculate an approximate cost of our products based on the numbers we received from Allieu and Jawara. We also need to identify a marketing plan for the products, and it will differ for each of them. Many of the judges were concerned about how Maggi cubes are different from our bouillon cube and whether people in Sierra Leone would use our product. Lastly, in terms of content, we also need to begin to work on a business model of who will create the product and where they will create it. We won’t know a lot of this information yet, but it’s worth working on until then. In terms of the presentation itself, we hope to better organized our transitions to better use our time. A seven minute presentation is very short, so we need to use our time wisely. I also really liked how some groups organized their last slides to have links to other topics or slides. Finally, I think our group needed to better organize our questions and who answered them.

Our group definitely will need IRB approval for when we feed our product to children. The product will be fortified with nutrients and ingredients that are designed to help the child, but too many vitamins and minerals can hurt people.  Side effects of too much vitamin A are vision problems and clumsiness. Side effects of iron, iodine, and zinc overdose are upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. We need to ensure that our product will not do this to children, especially if used correctly. We also need to be sure that it truly works to treat malnutrition. In a developing country like Sierra Leone, it may be difficult for us to get accurate reporting of how children are doing after they eat our products. Groups in other countries who have undertaken similar projects haven’t been able to report much quantitative data about the health of children after eating products that treat micronutrient deficiencies. Instead, mothers report their children’s health, weight, and appearance to people who work as community health workers or in clinics. Many times, the main issue is that mothers stop feeding their children the product or stop reporting the data. In order to get IRB approval, it is important for us to present the nutrient content of our recipes, how they are supposed to be consumed, how we will explain their nutrient composition, and how families can report any issues with the product.