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Sweet Inspiration from Caldas

Grameen report on a great recent example of social business in Caldas at the hands of a local entrepreneur countering malnutrition using a fortified sugar cane product.

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"The Social Business, Fortified Panela, aims to overcome the social problem of increasing malnutrition levels among children in Caldas: the low birth weight rates increased from 5.9% in 2008 to 6.3% in 2009. Additionally, 7,4 % of the children below the age of 5 suffer from general malnutrition and 23.3% are at risk of malnutrition. The nutritional alternatives available do not fit the food traditions of the community and they are prohibitively expensive.

To fulfill the vision that no citizen of Caldas should suffer from malnutrition, Fortified Panela is to produce and sell fortified panela products to rural population in Caldas, Colombia, with special attention to malnourished children.

So far there is already a local entrepreneur who will run the Social Business and a first business and financial plan has been established. The panela products will be produced locally, in a production plant in Supía (northern region), where also the required sugar cane can be bought from local farmers. In this way, Fortified Panel ensures that secondary revenues stay in the region.

The outlook for 2011 and 2012 is to launch the social business, renovate the factory, hire staff, and start production. Depending on the amount of the governments investment, an additional investor (e.g. from the private sector) will have to be found to to support with approx. 10 million USD." (from Grameen Creative Lab)

What other local tastes, products and raw materials might be leveraged to address health needs while supporting viable business operations? What innovative distribution models might get products to the folks who need them most? (ready to pedal panela anyone? Check out some vibrant mobile enterprise examples)


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I love that the the healthy solution is also a tasty solution - essential to its success. A few years ago I did fieldwork in Malawi and through that experience I learned of another similar project - using peanut butter.

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Wow Simon! That's a great project! We'd suggest posting it as it's own Inspiration if you get time – really fab stuff & good to cross-pollinate insights from elsewhere on the globe.

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