Editor’s note: The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship which invites students from around the globe to solve the world’s most pressing issues. Through crowdsourcing, training, mentorship and funding, the Hult Prize seeks to launch the next wave of social entrepreneurs. Six finalist teams will present their ideas at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. The winner will be announced on September 23 in New York. The teams are presently completing a 6-week Accelerator Program (see story/photos here) at the IXL Center in Boston. The article below is written by Team Poshnam. Poshnam is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning healthy nurturing.
Poshnam: Delivering Nutrition to Underserved
Mitochondria are the tiniest powerhouses that support life and the living on planet earth. And to no one’s surprise in particular, this system also comes with a limitation: what goes in defines its output. For individuals to be productive, what is fed into these powerhouses is of critical importance. The productivity and the progress of any nation are directly related to whether these individuals are well fed, or to be technically correct, the Food Security Index is addressed well or not. Henry David Thoreau once said, “It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?”
‘Urban Slums’ is a common consequential habitat structure that has evolved in most sub-Saharan and Asian countries shifting from agrarian to mass production based economic structure. This group faces the food security challenge as never before, due to high inflation and low-income levels. Unfortunately, this productive labor is often unaddressed by government policies and by NGOs — since majority of the families dwelling in urban slums are earning around $4 a day just enough to survive hunger.
Our global economy produces enough food each year to feed everyone but more than one-third of the food generated for human consumption continues to be lost or wasted due to inefficient and ineffective supply chain structures; mainly in developing countries and consumption patterns in developed nations. The question posed to us today is how we can nutritionally serve productive labor in these consequential habitats; realizing if this problem is not addressed now it will be addressed in the near future, but at far more critical level.
The underlying challenge is to come up with a well-defined solution that is simple and implementable for such a complex problem and of such a magnitude. At “Poshnam”, we’re addressing the global food crisis for 200 million urban slum dwellers with a clear objective of bringing nutritious food to their doorsteps at the lowest price every day. The team at Poshnam figured out after several ground surveys and expert opinions that 80% of problem lies in Asian and sub-Saharan region. This is mainly due to transit delays and added commissions due to middle agents in the existing supply chain network where the price of produce increases almost more than two fold times and the shelf life decreases drastically. This made the supply chain as one of the focal point of solution proposed by Poshnam, with the other focal point being the delivery channel to the urban slum dwellers.
How Poshnam addresses this challenge of food security
Poshnam focuses on the food leakages in the food supply chain in Asian and Sub-Saharan region, and redirecting these leakages to the urban slums dwellers to minimize the waste by 20% and price of food by 38%. Poshnam shapes the existing supply chain by creating a new market for produce that turn to waste if not consumed at right time. This produce can be sourced at various steps in the supply chain but Poshnam does it more effectively at the origination point, using an efficient cooperative system to map the supply with the aggregate demand of urban slums. Poshnam uses a distribution network of slum dwellers to distribute this produce at affordable prices. Poshnam infuses a changed behavior environment towards more nutrient rich diets through various means such as selling strategy, and other educational programs. Poshnam is in partnership with NGOs, agricultural organization at various value creation levels for value exchanges. On broader level, Poshnam addresses labor productivity, health, and employment issues of the urban slum dwellers.
Team Poshnam is the brainchild of four young MBA students from Asian Institute of Management, who have come together from diverse professional back-grounds to resolve this global food crisis. The team is diverse in terms of knowledge and skill set. Raj Bordia has experience in corporate strategy, operations and safety at Reliance Industries, Ravin Rapeti has entrepreneurial and IT background, Saurabh Bathla with operational experience at Reliance Industries limited and Shivesh Gaurav has worked on different technology platforms with organizations such as IBM, HP & Accenture. They hail from different industry sectors and are also involved in community service over the years.
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Mari Anixter is Managing Editor for Innovation Excellence. She is a communications professional living in the Boston area.