Social Mush: End World Hunger


There are 7 really solid Ideas that are making a difference in the world in combating world hunger which really stems from world poverty.  Many of these ideas are very entrepreneurial.  I really like Microloans and I’m sold on them.  I’ve been using Kiva, and my mom has been giving us Heifer International gifts for Christmas the last couple of years, which as well really seem to hit the problem at it’s roots by helping people gain access to loans and support in the case of Kiva, and animals for production in the case of Heifer.  The gifts that keep on giving… like a laying hen, or a pair of rabbits or nanny goat which could produce milk, cheese, and so much more.

In the end it appears to me that logistics alone keep these programs for going further.  On Kiva.org it’s local lenders and support groups.  They do work.  I’ve seen near 100% return on the Microloans I’ve participated in.  I’ve personally seen loans paid back in over 25 countries.  Impressive, this wouldn’t be possible without the speed of technology.

McDonalds has found a way to bring cheap food around the world, but it isn’t solving world hunger.  Imagine a social business that can bring food that’s sourced locally as a franchise and is cheap enough that someone who makes a dollar or two a day can afford it.  The logistics should be easy enough it could be ran out of doors without electricity or in a home, hut, or center camp or village.

Let me introduce you to Social Mush the next Social Business.  It starts with a big bowl, in some cases the bowl is so large that it could fit 5 to 10 people.  It’s also big enough that what it produces could feed 1000 people or 500 or 100 based on the village needs.  At this level the economies of scale to feed the a village could cost $10-20 or around 15 cents a day.

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Fundamental Principles:

  1. The mush is made from local ingredients that are very accessible.  Mush recipes can be customized to ensure proper nutrition.
  2. The cost of the bowl itself and the first month of ingredients in the beginning are supported by international donors in a microloan fashion similar to the Kiva.org model
  3. Each location has a local investor known as the Chef.  This is the social entrepreneur.  They are the one that has identified the need and is trying to meet the local need.  They are responsible to build local partnerships and limited remote connections to provide necessary supplies.
  4. Bowl locations are selected based on the need and basic training qualifications of the chef.
  5. No one is turned away at Breakfast. They will pay what they can.    Customer will come with their own bowl and spoon and be given mush at breakfast.  Credits will be given based on skills earned, training attended or other productive and based on understanding the local needs.  Lunch and Dinner are provided at a standard fixed rate but highly affordable cost which is based on a rate of return which will pay for the bowl and costs to cover the service within a ~6 month period. Shouldn’t be more than $1 and realistically should be around 10-25 cents based on the maturity of the local cost of living.
  6. Customers can work with the Chef to supply and grow ingredients and become suppliers of spices, rice, milk, etc… creating a more local supply of basic ingredients increase quality and reduce cost while even more close to home promoting gardening/farming principles and self reliance.
  7. Training and skills promotion is a key principle:  The Chef will need partners and  assistants and ultimately other franchise people.  Activities that are required to get things going are organizing the supplies, gather wood, start the fire, and notify the locals (Is it a big bell?) Do people come over time based on volume?  This assistance can be repaid in credits through food.  They will also need help stirring, serving, and keeping order. In all cases I think these are volunteer opportunities that result in payment in food.
  8. Franchise.  Much of the organic spread to meet needs relies on successful deployments happening, they can train others in nearby villages and spread the success.
  9. Recipes themselves can be modified based on what is in season and based on what is available.  At some level it comes down to pooling resources.  If I bring some of what I have grown and others do the same, we can all benefit from a greater palate and cornucopia of harvest.  These recipes themselves can be shared.
  10. The organization needs to be run in such as way that social franchises can operate on their own after some period of time.

Would you fund it? What am I missing?

3 thoughts on “Social Mush: End World Hunger

  1. The basic idea seems sound but I think you need to account for more details on the food and fuel supply channels.

    If the bulk of the food needed for a reasonably balanced diet can be sourced locally, this could work. But that requires that reasonable local agricultural production capability, including access to land and water, exists. The logistics become more challenging if much non-local purchasing and transportation are needed. Witness India’s infamously ineffective food aid program. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/08/business/global/a-failed-food-system-in-india-prompts-an-intense-review.html?pagewanted=all

    Another concern is the availability and efficiency of fuel for cooking. As part of the program, you might need to include something like these efficient stoves that are being distributed in Kenya. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/kenya/120524/kenya-stove-carbon-offset-market-environmental

    It might be best to start initially in areas where local food and fuel are can be made reasonably available. Otherwise you will have to bootstrap those precursors to the food preparation.

    Once the “business plan” exists that account details like these, I’d invest and help promote it.

    • Thanks for the feedback. When I get some bandwidth I’ll put together a business plan and incorporate a pilot where I’ll detail a lot of what you’re looking for in logistics. Would love spending a month in 2 different locations trying this out to see if it’s something I could transition over to locals. It is easy to fail. Infrastructure and logistics are the ultimate challenges. When you’ve got to walk miles to get water, then you know it’s going to be a huge challenge for the basics.

  2. Travelling to Banff? Banff is not that interesting. Much better to drive 20 minutes further to Johnston Canyon then do the amazing 1hr round-trip hike to the Upper Falls (don’t bother with the Ink Pots), then drive 20 more minutes to Lake Louise and do the spectaculare 2hr round-trip hike up the Big Behive. Stop at Lake Morraine on your way back to best scenic views.

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