1 Million Plan: Spirulina's Market Driven Approach to Combat Malnutrition

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1 Million Plan: Spirulina's Market Driven Approach to Combat Malnutrition

Geneva, SwitzerlandIndia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Spirulina is an affordable, wonder nutrient-rich micro-algae with proven efficacy against malnutrition. This project aims at saving 1 Mio Indian children and lactating mothers by combining a Spirulina enriched diet with a behaviour change strategy and BOP marketing for sustainable impact.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In India up to 42% of children under 5 are underweight and up to 59% are stunted (Hungama study 2011). The impact is huge: malnourished mothers will give birth to children with retarded growth rates and lifelong health, physical and cognitive development issues. Local diet lacks in essential nutrients such as Vitamin A, iron and protein and getting the right and sufficient nutrients within a rural community is extremely difficult.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Partnering with Ambuja Cement Foundation and Child Fund India, the plan is to locally produce and distribute large scale Spirulina and Spirulina-enriched foods (candies, cereal snacks, baby-food) to reach 1 Mio children and pregnant/lactating mothers using the “Anganwadis” network (local government childcare centers), local retailers and kiosks. In the first phase, each child/mother will receive a daily portion of Spirulina-enriched foods over 4-month (1g Spirulina/day corrects micronutrient deficiency of a small child) together with a personal growth chart based on WHO standards measuring progress. The personal experience of this progress will create demand for Spirulina, which will be sold through local retailers. Furthermore, mothers will be empowered through nutrition and cooking best practice sharing "PD Hearth" sessions promoting “kitchen garden” and Spirulina as a sustainable solution to combat micro-nutrient deficiencies.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Asha is a 3-year old malnourished girl. Every month she visits the Anganwadi in her village with her mother where she is weighed and buys her spirulina candies. She loves their taste! Her mother attended the PD hearth session, and learned many hygiene tips (e.g. washing her hands before cooking) and how / what to cook using local vegetables, that she is now planting in her kitchen garden. Asha’s mother is very happy: she grows her own vegetables, made great contacts in the community, but most importantly she sees how her daughter improved her growth path in the last 2 months, moving from being severely malnourished into the moderate category. For sure she will continue applying these learnings and buying Spirulina foods in the local kiosk in her village!

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Antenna Technologies has been active in the research and diffusion of Spirulina for the last 20 years and through its various ongoing field programs in India and Africa has saved thousands of children from malnutrition to date. Based on its success, this project aims at taking Spirulina to the next level to increase its impact. The first target will be India with the 1 Million plan to develop a Spirulina product for the base of the pyramid. This pilot will be used to test a sustainable large-scale model, gather data on Spirulina efficiency and establish an efficient last mile distribution system for Spirulina products to facilitate their availability in rural areas as a sustainable and viable solution to fight malnutrition. It will then help rally other organizations and allow the deployment of similar programs in other parts of the world. Our dream is to save 10 millions children by 2016 and significantly increase awareness on Spirulina!

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

At our current stage, we need funding to develop a Spirulina product for the base of the pyramid, together with a branding, marketing and distribution strategy through local kiosks in a limited geographical area for testing. The second stage of our plan will scale and reach financial sustainability by increased sales volume (economics of scale) to cover the costs of production, distribution, marketing and management.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In India, the Anganwadis governmental network provides daily meals to children but depends on external help. Other initiatives by private or non-governmental institutions focus on the provision of micro- and macronutrients – but they are costly, synthetic, imported and only cover partially the solution. Our solution is 100% natural, locally available, low cost and provides all the essential micro-and macronutrients and promotes education and behavior change. Furthermore, it is embedded and replicable by the community itself while reinforcing the existing Anganwadi network, and local retail system.

Founding Story

Denis Von der Weid has always been engaged in the fight against extreme poverty and especially hunger. 20 years ago, he came across the fascinating story of Spirulina, a micro-algae harvested and consumed by the the Kanembou tribe in Chad that demonstrated incredible health status despite extreme conditions, correlated to their Spirulina intake. Indeed Spirulina has impressive nutritional properties – with its extremely high content of bio available proteins, rare essential lipids, and numerous minerals and vitamins, it represents a real solution in the fight against malnutrition. From there on, he decided to invest heavily in R&D and developed a sustainable local cultivation method that he then successfully diffused in Africa and India.
About You
Antenna Technologies Foundation
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Antenna Technologies Foundation

Organization Country

, GE, Geneva

Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

- Antenna Technologies France 1st Prize at the Salon des Solidarités 2012 Paris http://www.portail-humanitaire.org/Produit/%C3%A9v%C3%A9nements/
- Antenna Technologies France "Prix Fondation Latécoère 2012"
- Antenna Technologies 1st prize Micro Algae Competition 2011 for its circular production tanks http://www.algaecompetition.com/PDF.cfm/AlgaeCompetitionAwards.pdfthe International
- Antenna Technologies makes Spirulina Genome Sequencing public to encourage development of Spirulina http://www.antenna.ch/documents/spiruline_genome_GHI.PDF
- Antenna Technologies wins the Gold Medal at the "Salon des Inventions" 2004 in Geneva for its "WATA" drinkable water system

Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Healthy environments.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

Spirulina uses a lot of carbon dioxide to grow. Our partner, Ambuja Cement, already produces Spirulina by using the carbon dioxide resulting from their cement production and therefore reduces the emissions and improving the environment. If we would partner for the production of Spirulina with more industries with high emissions of carbon dioxide, we could not only benefit from the nutritional values of Spirulina and combat malnutrition, but also reduce carbon dioxide in the athmosphere resulting from existing industries and factories and improve the environment.


Spirulina is a 100% natural, local and affordable solution to fight chronic malnutrition... Few grams a day can save children for a lifetime... Support this project!

Spirulina has been promoted extensively by many.It would be good if the author can say in what way this is different from other effortsand why this is sustainable.That needs to be focussed better .

Selina Haeny's picture

Thank you very much for your comment. Yes spirulina is well known for centuries. However, this knowledge has been limited to a very small number of people and agencies. Spirulina and its positive outcomes today are still unknown among prominent agencies in the realm of combating malnutrition. Furthermore, spirulina is not locally available for the most vulnerable and in remote areas. Our one million plan will change that by providing a strategy how to integrate spirulina into existing structures and strategies (Anganwadi network, PD hearth and kitchen garden), as well as by developing an attractive spirulina product available for the base of the pyramid.

stavewalker (not verified) /

Each child/mother will receive a daily portion of Spirulina-enriched foods over 4 month (1g of Spirulina/day corrects micronutrient deficiency of a small child) together with a personal growth chart to measure progress based on WHO standards. Samuel Lozano

SHARAD JOSHI's picture

This looks good. Thank you for sharing. I am curious to know whether the coverage of this project would just be limited to the rural communities? Are there any prescribed monitoring methods that would be used apart from that already mentioned (personal growth charts, visible improvement in children's health)? Are there any possible health risks that have to be conveyed to mothers? How are the costs being covered?

Selina Haeny's picture

Thank you very much for your questions. Our aim is to start in rural communities, in order to fine-tune our overall strategy and scale in a second phase to other communities. Thus, in the long run our project will not be limited to rural communities.
We will apply the monitoring standards from WHO, and develop our own monitoring tool for simple cell phones in order to improve the accuracy of the data gathered in the field.
Spirulina is a natural supplement and we did thus not experience any health risks. We will educate mothers about overal health issues, and support them in improving their health.
The costs within the first years have to be covered by funds. We aim at break-even by selling our spirulina products to the base of the pyramid after the third year by reaching economics of scale.

stavewalker (not verified) /

Local diet lacks in essential nutrients such as Vitamin A, iron and protein and getting the right and sufficient nutrients within a rural community is extremely difficult. google sniper 3