Rachael Miller

Going Local for Food Security : Winners of GBSN MBA+ Challenge Video Contest also tackle solar power, supply chains

Editor’s Note: Rachel Miller and her team from Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program recently won the Global Business School Network’s MBA+ Challenge Video Contest. Their winning video, as well as the second and third place winning videos, can be seen below.

Globally, one in 10 people is food insecure. Some 200 million of these people live in urban slums and lack access to the right types of food on a regular basis. This is unacceptable. After years of working and living abroad, our team came together because of a common belief that food insecurity in urban slums can be solved through business solutions.

Last year Bill Clinton issued a challenge via the Hult Prize: Increase food security in urban slums by 2018, using a fast growing, sustainable, and scalable solution. This struck a chord with me and three of my fellow Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA grads (Meghan Coleman, Lindsay Saperstone and Jeannie Whitler), so we jumped in. Leveraging the years we’d spent working in food supply chains in eight different developing countries, we came to the conclusion that many of the puzzle pieces already exist to address this problem from the ground up.

Harnessing Business to Impact Development

We’d observed first hand that there is enough food in urban slums to feed everyone adequately; the problem is in the access and distribution of food. Whether a household gets enough food and whether that food fulfills the nutrition needs of those in the household has serious health implications; including chronic malnutrition, otherwise known as “hidden hunger.” We created MamaCarts, a for-profit food cart micro-franchise, to treat not just the symptoms of malnutrition, but to address the root causes: broken supply chains, high meal prices, lack of nutritional education, and poor sanitation.

By leveraging resources that are already on the ground, we will be better able to help communities in need to insulate themselves from global commodity shocks and bolster local food systems. The MamaCarts model starts with locally grown food, which is processed at community cooking centers and then delivered through a network of franchised food carts to targeted areas, at prices comparable to the status quo. This model requires no new technology and is flexible enough to be easily localized both through the equipment we use and the branding strategies employed.

Moving the Dial through Metrics

Development practitioners are increasingly recognizing the need to measure outcomes and demonstrate impact from their programs. Similarly, mission-driven businesses like MamaCarts are exploring ways to demonstrate that our solution gets to the heart of the problem. Using impact assessment tools like GIIRS and IRIS, we are still developing our own reporting system to ensure we are asking the right questions and that we can demonstrate our triple bottom line impact.

Partnering with the Experts

We know that the secret to scaling our model is in partnerships. There are thousands of organizations currently working in the field with expertise in tangential disciplines. From urban farming to human nutrition to water management, our mission is to create linkages rather than build an entire food eco-system from scratch. Why reinvent the wheel when you can strengthen it? At a time of shrinking aid budgets, development practices are shifting; requiring innovative approaches and creative collaborations.

How We’re Doing Business with Purpose

MamaCarts was created because our team saw an opportunity in the breakdown of current systems. By taking a grassroots approach we will be able to create localized ripples in community health and economic stability, one meal at a time. Our next step is to finalize partnerships on the ground and launch a pilot in Kenya. We are currently seeking contacts for nutritionists, supply chain specialists, and will always welcome words of advice.

Food insecurity CAN be addressed with local resources. One in 10 food insecure people is simply too high a number – everyone has the right to nutritious food. Join us in the conversation and let us know what you think!

Second place went to “GIVEWATTS” from The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland and 3rd place went to “Seeking Change” from University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School and the World Around Them.

Education, Health Care
business development, nutrition