Nutrition, Learning, and Fun - All in One!
Breakfast is vital to a child's educational success. However, the majority of low-income families give their children the cheapest and most convenient option (bread in developing countries, for example). Not only does this come at the detriment of a child's health, but educational growth. The idea is creating an affordable, nutrient-dense, low-sugar yogurt that tastes great, is convenient for parents to provide, and gives parents on opportunity to be involved in their child's learning process before the child goes to school in the morning. Parent involvement, praise, and health are are essential to a child's early development. This yogurt product facilitates for a healthy and happy child ready to take on the day to learn and grow.
The two main questions that need to be addressed in order to make this a success are:
Breakfast for children - yogurt filled with nutrients, tastes great, convenient for parents, and provides an opportunity to make learning fun.
Grameen-Danone in Bangladesh does something similar - providing a yogurt that is affordable and nutritious to children. Our idea expands upon this idea to include opportunities for both learning and parent involvement.
How do you create affordable yogurt for kids that is also healthy and tastes good to children?
One PopTart, in the United States, for example, costs $0.50 and has, on average, 4 tablespoons of sugar. Ideally, the costs per yogurt will be $1-$2 and will have a maximum of one tablespoon of sugar. The yogurt will also be high in protein, calcium, zinc, iodine, vitamin A.
The affordable price of the yogurt will be possible through local production, local supplies, and existing storage space to decrease transportation costs. This will require schools, preschools, and daycares to use existing fridges and space to store the yogurt. Schools and educators who understand the extreme value and impact proper nutrition has on their students will implement this into their curriculum as a necessity rather than additional activity or burden.
How do you educate parents on the importance of providing their yogurt to children? How do you persuade them that the slight increase in cost of the yogurt to their normal breakfast is superceded by the value of their children's healthy and development?
The price of the yogurt will cover the cost of production. The price will operate with a very low gross margin and excess profit above cost will be used to improve the product, expand our reach of children, and educate parents to ensure product implementation in homes and schools.
Low-income families want to feel empowered and in control of their children's success. This product will enable them to provide for their children's health and education through an affordable product that is convenient and provides them an opportunity to share the education experience with their children.
Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?
Schools, children, and parents in developing countries will benefit. Schools will realize an increase in educational participation with healthier and happier students. The health, education, and energy levels of children will improve. Parent involvement and interaction with their children will increase.
Here is research from Kellogg's about the importance of breakfast to children development and education: https://www.kelloggsnutrition.com/content/dam/globalnutrition/en_CA/assets/Docs/DCOutsert_Fall2011_FINAL.pdf
Ideally and realistically, this product will be in every community across the globe. Taking cultural differences into consideration, the yogurt will vary in terms of tastes and appearance, but the beauty of local production is that the product adapts to the community needs and existing resources.
There are two possible business models for production:
1. Social Business - Creating a manufacturing plant in the local developing community. The supplies like milk come from local farmers and there is job creation for community members - manufacturers in the plant and sales men or women to sell the yogurt with existing relationships.
2. Partnership with existing businesses - We will find the most local producer of milk and/or yogurt products. We will partner with them to create the yogurt to reduce cost. The main requirement for partnership is the goal to produce an affordable product sold at low margins so the community can afford the product.
How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?
Creating the yogurt:
The best way to create the yogurt right now is by making it ourselves. Based on an NPR article (found here: http://www.npr.org/2013/11/06/243014945/yes-it-s-worth-it-to-make-your-own-yogurt#yogurt), it is worth making your own yogurt to decrease cost and increase supply. We will obtain cheap, disposable containers with lids. The lids will have the educational question/problem on the top and answer on the inside. Educational topics will include: math, language, and science.
We will begin by creating such flavors as:
As we test the flavors with children, we will ask what flavors they would want. It will be essential to involve the children in every decision - taste, appearance of the yogurt container, and educational problems/questions. They will be the advocates of the product, similar to Girl Scouts with Girl Scout Cookies in the United States.
Going into the communities:
We will begin in low-income communities in rural Mexico. We will go to schools, preschools, and daycares to observe the current state of student nutrition with a breakfast focus. We will survey parents, children, schools, and teachers to understand how the yogurt could help that specific community. This may mean selling directly to the parents because schools do not have the resources to take on the initiative past advertising and educating the parents in the school newsletters and classrooms. Or, this may mean selling to the schools directly, especially if the school provides for breakfast like HeadStart preschools, with the funding coming from the parents or other sources.
What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?
In order to make this a reality, we will need:
1. Advice from educators and school systems
2. Connections to local suppliers and manufacturers
3. Experts in product development and marketing
4. Experts on funding opportunities
5. People familiar with the Mexican culture (to begin)
Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?
Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.