Challenges Uganda’s analysis puts microgreens on the menus across Kampala schools

Challenges Uganda NUTRIgreens market insight

Challenges Uganda recently performed a commercial and impact analysis for the social enterprise NUTRIgreens. We undertook this market research to assess whether there was opportunity for the business’s “microgreens” products and whether these baby vegetables could be used to address Uganda’s malnutrition problem.

Malnutrition is a significant problem for families in Uganda. More than one-third of children under the age of five (2.4 million) suffer from stunted growth and 50 percent of children are anaemic. When it comes to education, Uganda’s dietary problem has further consequences. Malnourished children suffer from poor concentration and energy levels, which results in poor academic performance. With increased healthcare costs and a lack of opportunities, this in turn keeps families trapped in poverty.

Financially, the problem is also hindering Uganda’s economy. A 2009 study found that the cost of undernutrition among Ugandan children is equivalent to 5.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, some UGX 1.86 trillion (£420 million).

Challenges Uganda partnered with NUTRIgreens to develop a market solution to Uganda’s malnutrition problem. Established by Enactus Nottingham, NUTRIgreens is a social enterprise that aims to enhance the nutritional value of school meals by adding microgreens to the menu.

Microgreens are baby plants harvested between 7 and 21 days after germination. They contain up to 40 times the nutrient concentration of their mature counterparts, and require approximately 150 times less water. Due to their small size, they can be grown in volume with little burden on the producer, making them suitable for indoor growing.

NUTRIgreens commissioned Challenges to undertake a market analysis to investigate the feasibility of introducing microgreens into Ugandan secondary schools and to determine the potential long-term success of such an initiative. We also looked at their potential application in restaurants.

Challenges’ research findings

Through a combination of stakeholder interviews, online research and questionnaires completed by school principals, students and farmers, the Challenges Uganda team found considerable interest in the food product and the concept overall.

We found that small-scale farmers had appropriate growth materials and capacity, and were willing to diversify and grow the crop. Schools also expressed an interest, provided the microgreens were supplied at an affordable price. They were especially interested in NUTRIgreens’ offer to provide training programmes to students. The Challenges Uganda team also found concrete interest among other NGOs in partnering with NUTRIgreens with a view to rolling out this food source innovation.

As a result of Challenges’ research, NUTRIgreens is now working towards launching a pilot across Kampala schools later this month. With affordability a considerable issue for school management, NUTRIgreens will subsidise the programme by selling microgreens commercially to restaurants in both Nottingham and Kampala.

Both NUTRIgreens and Challenges recognises the potential for this young food. It’s an innovation that can both address the malnutrition crisis affecting Ugandan children, while offering a commercial opportunity for farmers and food producers willing to diversify.

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Coffee market building for peace and prosperity in Rwanda

Challenges Rwanda Coffee Market Building for Peace and Prosperity

Challenges Rwanda is a member of The Challenges Group, a family of social businesses committed to building prosperity. Challenges Rwanda launched in 2017 and offers a range of business growth services including business diagnostics, market assessments, pilot and prototypes, deal strengthening, investment readiness, and more. Our team of experienced associates also deliver accredited training programmes in business, management and leadership from the Chartered Management Institute, and we are uniquely placed to deliver tailored programmes adapted to rural and isolated environments and/or remote audiences, ensuring we provide trainees with the best opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

One of our key projects in Rwanda is the Coffee Market Building for Peace and Prosperity, which is funded by the Scottish Government. The coffee sector has been one of Rwanda’s success stories, playing a pivotal part in restoring the economy after the genocide 25 years ago, and rebuilding trust between community members. Helping the Rwanda coffee sector to better access the international market is one of the key aims of our Rwanda coffee project.

Launched in partnership with Twin Trading and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum in 2017, the Coffee Market Building for Peace and Prosperity project is working with eight coffee co-operatives in the country’s western and southern regions. The project, which is also supported by Enactus and Matthew Algie Coffee, aims to increase the capacity of eight Rwandan coffee co-operatives by delivering business, management and leadership training; improving quality control and each co-op’s “cupping scores”; streamlining and better enabling infrastructural processes; widening access to international markets; encouraging the adoption of clean tech innovations; and working with communities, particularly women and young people, to overcome systemic barriers to economic growth.

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Challenges partners with Uganda Solar Energy Association to enhance services

USEA Uganda Challenges Group

The off-grid solar energy sector is an exciting and fast-moving arena that Challenges is excited to be working in. Our Challenges team in Uganda has partnered with the Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA) as part of its mission to grow solar energy businesses in Uganda and the East African region.

Founded only a few years ago in 2016, USEA is an independent non-profit business membership body that was formed to act as a driver for the development of the off-grid solar energy sector in Uganda. It also seeks to push for improvements of solar energy standards, and to attract new entrants to the solar energy sub-sector.

Challenges Uganda is working with USEA to better understand its potential to act as a broker of business development services for its members. Most recently, we conducted needs assessments of 25 USEA members, giving us detailed insights into the sector as well as each business’s individual needs, as well as their future investment strategies, risk profiles, and whether they have the appetite for USEA’s support in connecting them to business development services. Data from this research has now fed into the construction of a pilot training programme in organisational leadership and sales and marketing, which will be offered at a subsidised rate for USEA members. At the same time, we’re also working with USEA to enable it to operate this training and business support model in the long-term without outside assistance.

We hope that by the end of this project USEA will be equipped with the training and tools to develop an in-depth understanding of the needs of its members, and that it can use this information to construct impactful business development service and investment pipelines. Like us at Challenges, USEA wants to significantly boost the ability of the solar energy sub-sector to reach the many Ugandan households who do not yet have access to electricity.

Image courtesy of Uganda Solar Energy Association.

 

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