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10 years of innovation & partnership: better nutrition for half a billion people

The Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition: An innovative model for nutrition action A GAIN-supported, Dutch partnership model generating collective impact to fight malnutrition

INTRODUCTION In 2009, a new partnership for fighting malnutrition was launched in The Netherlands with support from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). The Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition (AIM) unites the strengths of the public and private sectors to protect millions of base of the pyramid (BoP) consumers from hunger and micronutrient deficiencies. This consumer segment has just a few dollars to spend every day, and is identified as being critical in tackling malnutrition. AIM works to sustainably deliver nutritious products and services to the BoP, to achieve long-term health outcomes, increase individual productivity and ultimately

reduce poverty. When initially formed,

scholarship and know-how of The

it set an ambitious founding vision – to

Netherlands and directs it to the complex

eliminate malnutrition for 100 million

challenges and consequences of global

people across six African countries by

malnutrition. This innovative partnership

2015. This innovative partnership seeks

model is generating substantial interest

to combine concerted effort and expertise

from leading multinationals, government

to achieve collective impact at scale;

and research organizations based in

and accomplish a goal which no single

The Netherlands; where each specialist

organization could possibly manage

brings its own talents and expertise


to the table, and works together as a network to target nutrition through

AIM brings a new focus to GAIN’s alliance-based approach to tackling malnutrition. It unites the considerable nutrition, health and food systems-related

market-led solutions.

Along the entire food value chain - from

The Five Conditions of Collective Impact by the Stanford Social Innovation Review GAIN’s collective impact approach to fighting malnutrition was recently featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. AIM builds on this framework at a more regional level using the expertise and knowledge of leading Netherlands-based institutions.

the sourcing of agricultural inputs to when a product is marketed, distributed and consumed - partners contribute their expertise to move projects forward. AIM’s opportunity portfolio ranges from fortifying milk to developing water and health kiosks in Kenyan slums. (See Project Box 1 & 2).

Collective impact by

Building AIM based on

the Stanford Social

the collective impact

Innovation Review.



All participants have a

All partners share a


shared vision for change

common agenda and

including a common

work towards the focused

Already a healthy product in its own

understanding of the

goal of using market-

capacity, milk can be further fortified to

problem and a joint

based approaches to

contain missing vitamins and minerals

approach to solving it

reduce malnutrition.

in diets. In Kenya, milk is a large part


AIM Project 1: Milk fortification in Kenya

through agreed upon

of the dietary intake for children as they


consume milk regularly both as a drink


Collecting data and

Detailed landscaping has

and mixed with cereal. It has therefore


measuring results

identified the key areas

been identified as an appropriate vehicle

consistently across all

within the supply chain

for fortification and for improving the

participants ensures

where interventions can

nutritional status of infants and young

efforts remain aligned and

have maximum impact

participants hold each other

on nutrition.

children starting at age 6 months


as a complement to breast milk. A consumer study in 2011 provided a


Participant activities must

Each partner brings its

better understanding of bottlenecks and


be differentiated while still

own expertise to the

opportunities in the dairy value chain


being coordinated through

table, but work together

a mutually reinforcing plan

in partnership to benefit

and also BoP consumer behaviour. AIM

of action.



Consistent and open

AIM continuously


communication is needed

communicates and

across many players to

listens to its partners

build trust, assure mutual

and consumers in the

objectives, and create

development of projects.

common motivation.

As a result, AIM recently extended its country scope from Africa into Southeast Asia.


Creating and managing

AIM is hosted at GAIN,


collective impact requires

but uses its regional

a separate organization

base in Amsterdam to

with staff and a specific

co-ordinate its activities.

set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies.

is now working with local processors to define business cases for fortified milk products.

AIM is on track to deliver tangible and sustainable results, largely due to a careful and detailed exploratory phase.

This important research ensured real buy-in for project opportunities and

AIM’s Founding Partners and the roles they play

support from partners, and addressed the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of The Netherlands. Committed

real needs of consumers. After listening

to strengthening the agriculture sector and food security in developing countries.

to the interests of its partners, AIM

In April 2012, the Dutch government launched a USD 75 million public-private

has expanded its project scope from a

partnership facility to match private investment in nutrition and food security.

central focus in Africa to explore potential opportunities in Southeast Asia, namely

AkzoNobel. A Dutch multinational active in the field of speciality chemicals.

Indonesia and Bangladesh. It has also

AkzoNobel provides the office facilities for the AIM Secretariat.

carefully analysed the needs and desires of BoP consumers to effectively create

DSM. A multinational life sciences and materials science-based company; its global

demand for the products and services it

portfolio includes food and dietary supplements, personal care, pharmaceuticals,

will work to deliver.

medical devices and bio-based materials. DSM is working in partnership on milk fortification as well as the health kiosk project in Kenya.

The use of market channels is increasingly recognised as an

Inter Church Alliance for Development. An inter-church organization which

important tool in this field, particularly

supports and advises organizations and networks for better access to basic facilities,

as population growth and urbanisation

initiating sustainable economic development and enhancing peace and democracy.

create a large Emerging Consumer Class (ECC). Furthermore, these market

Unilever. A British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company, products include

mechanisms contribute to delivering

food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. Unilever is working

sustainability, and allow governments

in partnership with AIM to develop health and water kiosks in Kenya, and explore

and their donor partners to focus their

targeted fortification products.

own resources on the most vulnerable populations sitting outside the BoP consumer space.

Wageningen University. A Dutch public university training specialists in life sciences, focusing its research on scientific, social and commercial problems. The university is considered world-class in the terms of agricultural science and is one of Europe’s oldest universities teaching nutrition.

AIM Project 2. Health and Water kiosks

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). An alliance driven by a world

AIM has initiated a pilot project to

access to the missing nutrients in diets necessary for people, communities and

develop a chain of micro-franchises

economies to become stronger and healthier. GAIN hosts the secretariat for AIM,

based on existing water kiosks.

and is involved in all projects.

without malnutrition, GAIN supports global public-private partnerships to increase

These will provide an economical and sustainable outlet to enable access to safe water, nutrition and hygiene products and health services to BoP consumers in urban settings. The health offer to consumers will include an extended range of products and services sold at the water kiosk that contribute to improved health: home filtration devices, nutritious foods and beverages. The model also aims to increase revenue for local entrepreneurs who will be offered to diversify their product portfolio and increase their marketing practices.

AIM has shaped a strong collaboration


among partners and is expanding considerably. Building and uniting this has potential for replication with other

AIM’s early vision: to eliminate malnutrition for 100 million Africans by 2015.

countries, and is a win-win for everyone

Central to AIM’s model is combining the

involved in the partnership, in terms of

know-how of major players in the food

return on investment, learning and social

and nutrition industry in the search for


solutions to malnutrition. Its core objective

strong network of Dutch expertise now

is to create new good quality, affordable food choices in the emerging consumer market at the BoP. It does this by

improving the availability and affordability

Unilever. “Each of us is adding something

of nutritious foods, and also changing

which is slightly different for the project to

the demand pattern to build awareness

make a sustainable impact on health.”

and favour choices for healthier food and products. Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa,

Unilever brings market knowledge,

Ethiopia, Ghana and Mozambique were

branding, and global distribution expertise

originally highlighted as key opportunities

to the table. Meanwhile, GAIN and WSUP

for targeting nutrition through market-

bring vital community mobilization and

based reforms.

integrated development know-how, as well as detailed knowledge of communities,

“Our main target is to make sure we

local relationships, and technical expertise

have an impact on malnutrition using

on water, sanitation, and nutrition.

the consumer segments that have just a few dollars to spend,” said Charlotte

“We really bring together the best

Pedersen, Manager of AIM which is

expertise, and are working on the best

hosted by GAIN. “This isn’t relief; we

options for the community,” added

are focused on trying to stimulate

Ling Ling Phung. “Their needs always

demand for and deliver nutritious

come first, and we’re overlaying a model

products and services that are attractive

which is scalable, sustainable and can

across sectors, we can together address

and affordable for these consumers

make an impact on their lives.”

the challenges of trying to reach poor consumers with nutritious food.”

and which they will continue to buy and use. But we are looking at this from a commercial perspective as well as a

AIM’s key success criteria

social perspective. It has to make long

• Improving quality assurance/quality

term business sense and have a health

control of products that claim to be



AIM’s goal is to achieve long-term

• Creating and enabling a regulatory

The AIM approach is to seek sustainable models for nutrition solutions by mobilising business to deliver products as part of their normal commercial or “core” business, which are not dependent on donations or public subsidy. This is

health outcomes, to increase individual

environment to encourage compliance

vital to sustainably reaching the largest

productivity and to ultimately reduce

with nutrition standards.

percentage of the world’s 2 billion

poverty. One of AIM’s early opportunities, which is generating substantial momentum, is a united public-private partnership to develop and launch a franchise of health kiosks in Kenyan urban slums. AIM brings together Unilever, GAIN and

malnourished who are not ultra poor or • Building BoP consumer awareness and consumer demand. • Creating new distribution channels for BoP.

which offer products and services related to safe water, sanitation and nutrition. In a burgeoning urban environment, this can potentially reach millions of vulnerable

buy much of what they consume. Taking this concept into consideration, the water kiosks project is being delivered as part of Unilever’s business activities and not

• Embedding nutrition in agricultural value chains.

the NGO, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), to develop outlets

at the edge of survival, and who already

through its corporate social responsibility program. Supporting the delivery of quality


nutritious solutions is dependent on

Brokering a project partnership across sectors.

– adequate water supply, sanitation

consumers and deliver significant impact

“In the long term, AIM’s projects should

at scale.

become a business case, and not depend on government funding,” Charlotte

“It’s important to have corporates working

Pedersen added. “By uniting the skills of

with NGOs,” said Ling Ling Phung, of

our partners, along the value chain and

a number of factors working together and hygiene. Through its water kiosks project, AIM is focusing on improving the availability of clean water in Kenyan slums. It has already brought together the partnership which is now identifying the right, sustainable model for this nutrition solution.


Working with a completely new market segment.


A key challenge: encouraging sustainable solutions.

Companies may also be hesitant to work with such a new consumer. For AIM, there

The use of market channels is

Working with any consumer market

was initial uncertainty from the private

increasingly recognised as an important

comes with both risks and challenges.

sector to be delivering a new product,

mechanism for ensuring sustained

The creation of more nutrition secure

for a new customer based in a different

access by BoP consumers to nutritious

markets is difficult as the conventional

country. Building trust in any relationship

products and services on a sustained

return on investment takes more time

takes time, and now that evidence for

basis. Through building and uniting this

when reaching the BoP consumer.

market opportunities exists, AIM is in

strong network of Dutch expertise, this

talks to strengthen the partnership with

partnership now has the potential for

additional members.

replication in additional countries.

A large part of this evidence-base is due

AIM has generated global interest as a

to AIM’s detailed landscaping, which has

new model for market-based interventions

formed a focused and targeted project

to improve nutrition for poor consumers.

pipeline of market-based solutions.

The current financial climate means there

Substantial progress has been made in

is a real interest in business models that

the last year, and projects span the whole

leverage the public and private sectors

value chain to include new partners which

more effectively, and alleviate risk for

complement current partners’ expertise.

partners in both sectors interested in

Rather than the conventional 2-4 year range, it takes much longer for nutritious products for the BoP to enter the market. Significant barriers to market entry exist, and these can increase the risk and cost compared to more affluent market segments. Creating demand, for example, may require further efforts such as consumer education programs as well as the involvement of social and cultural organizations. As a partnership, everyone involved takes on the risks together and works through the challenges and barriers which may arise. Partners with specific strengths reduce the risk profile during these difficult phases, and this approach can also reduce the overall project costs as well.

Optimizing market channels.

tapping into the BoP market.

This partnership clearly demonstrates how developed countries can mobilise their resources to play a leadership role, drawing on the strengths of government, business and civil society in support of sustainable global development. The model has also generated significant interest from new partners as well, with Rabobank Foundation, Spar International, RijkZwaan and Dadtco in discussions to also participate in AIM projects. Furthermore, the lessons learned so far could also effectively serve others. The Dutch government recently announced the launch of a new public-private partnership facility of USD 75 million to match private investment in nutrition and food security. This added investment further strengthens AIM’s approach to addressing malnutrition, and cements The Netherlands’ current position as a global leader in the fight against malnutrition.

GAIN HQ Geneva Rue de Vermont 37-39 CH-1202 Geneva Switzerland T +41 22 749 1850 F +41 22 749 1851 E

The Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition: An Innovative Model for Nutrition Action  

A GAIN-supported, Dutch partnership generating collective impact Case Story In The Netherlands in 2009, GAIN supported the launch of the Am...

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