Pioneering sustainable change in addressing malnutrition globally

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Pioneering sustainable change in addressing malnutrition globally

Cork, MalawiBantry, Ireland
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
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.

To pioneer sustainable change in the way malnutrition is addressed globally by treating people at risk as customers, not victims - and, for the first time, making innovative nutritious food accessible and affordable to those that need it, while manufacturing in developing countries.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There is international consensus that malnutrition is the greatest single cause of poverty in the world. One third of all children in developing countries suffer from chronic malnutrition. Its effects are irreversible. This problem has already proven too big for NGOs/charities and governments to address effectively. They do not have the resource to dedicate to its prevention, and are already struggling to treat just those with severe acute malnutrition (i.e. starvation), let alone reach the additional hundreds of millions suffering from chronic malnutrition. On the other hand, the corporate sector are only engaging peripherally, and crucially are not providing consumers with choice of affordable, quality nutrition.

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

It is agreed that preventing malnutrition amongst young children is the most cost effective intervention to stimulate economic growth. VALID intends to restructure our charity model to attract appropriate social impact investors, enabling the new entity to continue to drive real change in how starvation is treated while also pioneering a completely new customer-focused business model to PREVENT chronic malnutrition. We will do this by working with business and aid agencies/public sector actors because we are uniquely positioned to do so. In order to drive this unashamedly disruptive change, we will create a new hybrid corporate structure – involving a "for profit" social enterprise of which our existing charities become a “golden” shareholder. This will enable suitably aligned “social impact” investors to support us in capitalizing the operational side of the business and to fund expansion to become fully self-sustaining.
Impact: How does it Work

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

Before VALID developed Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), a mother had to take her sick and often dying child to a distant hospital on foot. This action was often taken reluctantly and at a huge cost to the Mother, as she often had other children and livelihood duties to neglect in order to undertake the journey involved. VALID's research in local communities has shown that such action is usually taken as a last resort. Consequently, the child arriving for treatment is so weak, that often even with treatment for malnutrition, they succumb to an infection and die. Contrast this to making treatment available in the Community. It's more easily accessible and therefore more children are treated, and EARLIER. Critically, it empowers the mother and also importantly, it provides visible evidence to her friends and neighbours of the impact of a nutritional intervention to literally transform a child's vitality – thereby generating broader demand for the solution – and educating for the future. Mothers universally want what's best for their children and will go to great lengths to secure it. If we can now deliver affordable nutritional supplements in the critical first 1000 days, we are confident that the demand can be nurtured - given our unique experience with severe malnutrition. It's also in the interest of governments, aid agencies and business to invest here – healthier children are wealthier contributors to society and economies.

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

Since the UN's endorsement of VALID's revolutionary model (Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition-CMAM) for treating severe acute malnutrition using therapeutic foods, coverage has improved from around 5% to over 70%; cure rates and cost effectiveness have vastly improved; and death rates have been cut fivefold (Collins et al, 2006). CMAM has introduced demand-driven customer focused principles into the global system to treat starvation, empowering consumers – as opposed to being previously supply led. VALID’s unique understanding of community mobilisation has generated demand through empowered experience by the end user. In 2011 nearly 2 million children received life-saving treatment through CMAM programmes (UNICEF, 2012). The implementation of CMAM has meant that the market for RUTF has grown from 1,850 MT in 2005 to over 28,500 MT in 2011, and is already worth over $150m.

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

Our detailed profit and loss projections demonstrate that once we have the capacity to scale-up production to meet existing demand, our social business model is self-sustaining.

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

There are many players active in the market for products to treat Acute Malnutrition, but very few addressing the longer-term problems associated with Chronic Malnutrition. Unfortunately, largely due to an obsession with short-term results & a belief that adequate margins cannot be secured, private enterprises still neglect the need for quality & affordable nutritious foods by consumers at the “base of the pyramid”. This situation persists despite the fact that the capability exists & with an enlightened & imaginative engagement with the public sector, perceived barriers can be overcome. VALID's expertise in the nutritional, social and commercial goods space, make it uniquely positioned to achieve these goals. We believe we can deliver the highest standards & the greatest social impact.

Founding Story

Having successfully developed the Community-based model of distribution (CMAM), which entailed transferring the emphasis from a supply-led model of care, to demand-led, Steve Collins realised that the market for Ready-to-Use Foods (RUFs) would take off. The existing supply chain was seriously sub-optimal for local impact and development – all sourced from developed countries. He therefore set up VALID Nutrition to manufacture exclusively in the countries and regions where the product is needed - injecting competition and engendering major social impact through working directly with local farmers to procure ingredients, providing employment and building local technical skills and competencies.
About You
Valid Nutrition
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Valid Nutrition

Organization Country

, CK, Bantry

Country where this project is creating social impact


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

VALID's Awards include:
• 2001: Steve Collins was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth for his services to humanitarianism in the treatment of adult starvation in wars and famines.
• 2008: Awarded the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) Business Award for Innovation in Nutrition. This recognized Valid’s approach and breakthrough in addressing acute malnutrition at scale.
• 2009: Awarded the Irish Management Consultants’ Association gold medal for achievement in business.
• 2010: Awarded an Irish Times Innovation Award for our unique approach to treating malnutrition
• 2010: Steve Collins awarded an ASHOKA Senior Fellowship.
• 2012: Steve Collins awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science by Long Island University, USA.

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?

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

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

Approximately 100 words left (800 characters). 300 million children in developing countries have their mental and physical development irreversibly damaged by chronic malnutrition (hidden hunger). By addressing this we can enable children to reach their full potential. They will then be less affected by illness, better students and more productive individuals. They will earn and spend more, plus contribute more to society. This impact in turn will boost developing countries both socially and economically – and vitally, this will be sustainable, through the commercial dimension at its core.