Supermom’s on tricycles

Ethiopian food processing company GUTS Agro has launched a product never made before in Ethiopia – an affordable, highly nutritious corn-soya blend for young children and expectant and nursing mothers, called Supermom’s.

Supermom’s is made from maize and soybeans produced by 2SCALE farmer groups, is fortified with more than 20 vitamins and minerals, and contains essentials fats, carbohydrates and proteins. The new product is targeted at low-income households and has quite an innovative distribution model (called Likie, meaning ‘my fit’) that was designed with support of 2SCALE and is better suited to effectively reach low-income consumers, while maintaining the affordability of the product. The Likie distribution model shortens the supply chain and will improve the traceability of the product, since Supermom’s is hawked door-to-door by young women on tricycles, bringing the products directly from the factory to the consumer. This eliminates mark-ups by middlemen, reduces costs for the consumer, and substantially reduces the risk of deterioration in transit. It also increases nutrition awareness among poor women, because thesales ladies are trained to offer nutrition education. The distribution model will create employment and income generation, increasing opportunities for small entrepreneurs and unemployed women from the BoP. “The Likie distribution model is very impressive,” said Dr. Worku Tessema, Food Security & Sustainable Development Expert at the Netherlands embassy, “2SCALE is rich in innovative approaches, and in GUTS you have the right partner.”

GUTS Agro already offered an assortment of nutritional and fortified foods to the local market and international humanitarian organizations, such as Corn Soy Blend (CSB): relief food that was solely distributed through the World Food Program for emergency response. GUTS realized that this was not a sustainable market for the CSB and moreover witnessed the product they supplied to WFP had a very good commercial potential. Supermom’s was developed with technical assistance from 2SCALE. GUTS goal is to sell 3000 tons of Supermom’s through the Likie model in the first year, with 10% growth each year. In doing so GUTS wants to capture a 10% market share of the supplementary foods market. Over 20,000 farmers will have access to sustainable output market for their maize and soybean production through the partnership and right now 15 micro-entrepreneurs are engaged in the Likie micro-franchise distribution at Hawasa. Likie sales ladies are encouraged to come up with a small initial investment of 500 Birr (about $25) which will increase the sense of ownership and dedication to increase their sales figures and thereby their earnings. GUTS is making a few exceptions to this by providing upfront loans to inpsire women’s entrepreneurship at the BoP. Likie is being rolled out initially in three cities, and will reach nine towns and cities by mid-2016.

The project also linked GUTS Agro to Dutch industry experts via the PUM program. Experienced food technologists from the Netherlands worked with GUTS staff to modify the production line, improve the recipe, reduce energy costs, and make the process flexible enough to use either milk powder or fresh milk, depending on the season.

Watch the video about Supermom’s and the Likie distribution model below.

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