Impact Investor Focuses On Improving Lives In Haiti
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Marc Blumenthal joins me to talk about Social Ventures Foundation’s work in launching V’ice in Haiti. V’ice is basically a snow cone with added nutrition. These sorts of products are popular in Haiti and V’ice is both superior and price competitive. It is intended to be sold by microfranchisees so the profits mostly stay in the community.
Interview with Marc Blumenthal, the Executive Director of Social Ventures Foundation.
The following is the pre-interview with Marc Blumenthal. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.
For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit
Revenue model: Grants, revenues and Social Impact Investment
Scale: The Social Ventures Foundation is currently scaling V’ice in Haiti from its first Hub which is currently providing jobs for 8 Haitians in Management, MicroFranchising and manufacturing. An additional 20 MicroFranchisees will be added this Fall. Over 20,000 V’ice cones and V’bars (protein bars made from locally sourced corn flakes and peanuts) have been sold with additional projected sales of over 75,000 V’ice cones and V’bars this Fall. Both products are sold at affordable prices for the poor –10 gourds (10 cents) for V’ice and 5 Gourds (5 cents) for V’bars. Revenues reflect these prices.
What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?
V’ice is addressing vitamin and protein deficiency of the general Haitian population due to food insecurity and the lack of jobs for youth. According to U.S.A.I.D and the Haitian Department of Public Health, over 80% of the Haitian population lives on less than $2 a day and eats only 1.5 meals a day. Food insecurity is persistent; nearly a third of the population is food insecure and 600,000 need external food assistance to survive. Also, 1 in 5 children remain stunted, and more than half of all children and almost half of all women of reproductive age are anemic.
61% of the Haitian population resides in urban areas, with the vast majority of them earning less than $3 a day. They do not have the financial ability to obtain vitamin and protein supplements. A sustainable approach to vitamin and protein supplementation is necessary to mitigate the current problems associated with food insecurity such as amnesia, stunting, weight loss, and vitamin and protein deficiency.
According to the CIA World Factbook, 54% of the Haitian population is under the age of 24. According to the ILO, in 2017 Haiti’s youth unemployment rate was at 35.95 percent. Youth unemployment is a catalyst for civil unrest, with disruptive impact on the Haitian economy. The lack of jobs for youth in Haiti poses one of the nation’s greatest risks as evidenced by the age of stone-throwers during February’s 2019 civil unrest upheaval.
The SVF has developed two innovative food products that deliver vitamin and protein supplement to three sectors: the public at large, private and public schools and housing areas for the poor at a price affordable by the poor population. Both products have undergone extensive market research, been introduced to the market and have a commercial track record. SVF and its partners have strived to supplement the local vitamin deficiency needs as identified by the Haitian Health Ministry and USAID including Vitamin C, E, A, Iron, and zinc. Our products include:
V’ice vitaminized shaved ice cone is made with clean water ice sourced by our local business partner, Dlo Haiti, and vitaminized flavored toppings (mango, banana, lime, passion fruit, and blueberry) sourced in conjunction with our International Business partner Griffith Foods. These provide vitamins to supplement the vitamin deficiencies of the poor. V’ice cones sell for 10 Gourdes (10 cents), the same price as the traditional “fresco” shaved ice vendors sell across Haiti. However, “fresco” ice is made from unclean water and unhealthy, sugar-based homemade toppings.
V’bar vitaminized protein bar is made fresh daily with peanut butter sourced from locally grown peanuts and Haitian vitaminized cornflakes sourced from our local Haitian business partner Caribbean Food Manufacturing.
V’ice is addressing Job Creation: SVF is currently scaling V’ice in Haiti from its first Hub which is currently providing jobs for 8 Haitians in Management, MicroFranchising, and manufacturing. An additional 20 MicroFranchisees will be added this Fall and SVF will roll out two additional Hubs by the end of 2020 providing over 100 additional jobs for Haitians.
More about Social Ventures Foundation:
The Social Ventures Foundation (SVF) is a non-profit 501 c 3 organization that facilitates the identification, promotion, investment, and innovation of startups and businesses which have products, services and/or job programs to sustainably lift the livelihoods of the poor at the Bottom of the Pyramid. To meet the unmet challenges of the poverty reduction space, SVF has developed a scalable Micro=Franchise Business Model that employs the poor to sustainably deliver meaningful social impact for the poor.
To demonstrate its model SVF selected the poorest nation in the America’s and one of the world’s most challenging regions to do business – Haiti. The unmet challenge SVF undertook is a major healthcare crisis for the poor: vitamin and protein deficiency due to food insecurity. Our Micro-Franchise solution is “V’ice” a shaved ice cone with a vitaminized topping that can be customized to the vitamin deficiency needs of a developing nation.
Marc Blumenthal. Photo Credit: Social Ventures Foundation
Marc Blumenthal’s bio:
Marc Blumenthal has extensive experience in entrepreneurship, education, investment management, and technology innovation. At the age of 19, while a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, he participated in his first startup, as a principal in the American Book Club, a pre-internet predecessor to Amazon.com. He used his earnings to purchase a VW camper bus to travel throughout Europe and Asia, prior to returning to UPenn and gaining a teaching certification.
After graduation, he provided consulting services to the American Management Association and then began his second start-up, The Learning Guild, which developed a wide variety of innovative educational programs involving millions of students, teachers, and adults throughout the Northeast.
He then went on to become Managing Director of a limited investment partnership and soon thereafter, formed Novations Inc, a privately held technology innovation firm focused on startups in the Medical Devices, Quality Control, Plasma Fusion, Marine Technology, and Aerospace.
In addition to these “commercial” ventures, Mr. Blumenthal has authored the design of several sustainable “social” ventures that apply a business approach to solving public sector problems. In August of 2018, Mr. Blumenthal decided to devote 100% of his time to social enterprise work on behalf of the Social Ventures Foundation.
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