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What Drives an Entrepreneur to Fight Poverty in East Africa 

What Drives an Entrepreneur to Nourish Communities in East Africa

The CEO of Insta Products is reminded every day of the importance of nutrition.

Every day, when Dhiren Chandaria looks down at his cell phone, he sees a photograph of a young child affected by malnutrition. The photograph serves as a constant reminder of the responsibilities Chandaria carries as the CEO of Insta Products in East Africa.

“This child is representative of all the people that Insta is trying to help,” Chandaria said. “It is my job to figure out how to provide him with the best level of nutrition, to help save his life.”

In 2012, when the company was on the verge of collapse — following labor disputes and financial woes — Chandaria bought Insta Products from its founding partners. Although Chandaria had no prior food industry experience, he saw the potential in Insta Products — a manufacturer of life-saving therapeutic food based on a special mix of proteins, carbohydrates, oils, fats and a host of critical vitamins and minerals for the treatment of acute malnutrition. At the time, Insta Products was one of the few companies in Africa with approval to manufacture ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), a critical product for U.S.-supported relief efforts.

Through thePrivate Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) — a global partnership dedicated to fighting hunger, malnutrition and poverty in developing countries, and funded in part by the U.S. Government through Feed the Future — Chandaria received a combined loan amount of 7 million from GAFSP and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation in 2016 to expand the business. The investment helped the company scale-up its RUTF capacity and more than double its sales with an increased supply.

Resuscitating Insta Products wasn’t easy, but with help from this loan, Chandaria introduced better process controls and procedures in the Insta Products factory to improve production.

“Everything must be 100 percent perfect in terms of the formulation, food safety and RUTF product quality,” Chandaria said. “You cannot make a mistake. It took us about a year to get things right. Failure was simply not an option.”

Photo of Chandaria holding Insta Products’ RUTF
Chandaria holding Insta Products’ RUTF.

Thanks to the increase in supply, Chandaria’s company thrived. Chandaria renovated Insta Products’ factory a second time in August 2016 in order to expand the company’s capacity and install larger equipment. Today, Insta Products stands out as one of the largest producers of nutritious, life-saving foods in East Africa, with purchase orders from global food assistance organizations. Through the efforts of these international organizations, Insta Products has helped hundreds of thousands suffering from acute malnutrition around the world.

“This relationship with GAFSP has been very powerful for us,” Chandaria said. “GAFSP has not just enabled Insta Products to extend its reach, but it has also connected the company — and management — with the rest of the world.”

The GAFSP loan supported Insta Product’s timely delivery of 310,000 additional cartons of RUTF and helped treat 300,000 more people from acute malnutrition.

Chandaria has continued to grow the business beyond this loan. To reach children with nutritious foods early in life, Chandaria recently developed affordable breakfast spread aimed at providing children in developing countries a nutritious start every day. Insta also started a pilot feeding program at the Enkijape primary school near Nairobi, where more than 750 children are now receiving fortified whole-grain porridge every day.

The Chandaria family is busy replicating the success of Insta Products, creating new manufacturing facilities across Africa and continuing to boost child nutrition with more product lines beyond food aid. By July 2019, Insta will open a new RUTF processing facility and factory in Lekki, Nigeria, sourcing peanuts from local farmers and delivering much needed RUTF to the Sahel region.

Good nutrition is critical to the well-being of entire nations. Feed the Future invests in child nutrition with partners like Insta Products, ensuring that children can escape the devastating effects of malnutrition and reach their full potential. GAFSP is a global partnership dedicated to fighting hunger, malnutrition and poverty in developing countries, which the United States supports through Feed the Future. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace also supported Insta Products, through its primary partner UNICEF, to launch the production of ready-to-use therapeutic food, which helps support emergency drought response and boost national economies through local production.

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