Western Heads East (WHE) is “a collaboration between Western staff, students, faculty, and African partners using probiotic food to contribute to health and sustainable development”. The primary objective of this program is to establish a sustainable grassroots social enterprise using the health benefits of probiotic yoghurt in order to improve health of Tanzanian community while empowering local women to become business owners and entrepreneurs. This report investigates the challenges, opportunities, local conditions and previous works to recommend a potential intervention that could support the sustainability and the intended value of probiotic yoghurt kitchens.
There are two main end users for the WHE programs: the yoghurt kitchen clients, and the “Yoghurt Mamas” themselves. The clients of the yoghurt kitchens come from all sections of society, including HIV+, malnourished, ill, and low-income. “Yoghurt Mamas” refer to women who operate the yoghurt kitchens in their communities and provide education on health, nutrition, HIV prevention and domestic abuse.
Two of the challenges come from the end users themselves are the misconception by clients that the yoghurt is a medication, and a negative cultural attitude toward women, resulting in decreased creativity and independence. In addition, poverty, women and children’s social hierarchy, lack of education, government restrictions poor infrastructure and technology in the local community makes the health problem even more complex. To further diagnose the health problem, previous reports on yoghurt kitchens businesses by the African Probiotic Yoghurt Network, past WHE Intern Reports and the Oyugis. Kenya Project were examined before designing an intervention.
Based on research and collaborative teamwork, a three-pronged approach was essential for mitigating the current challenges and enhancing the success of the WHE kitchens. They include creating a strategic marketing plan, improving communication among the WHE team
and the Yoghurt Mamas, and empowering women to help them discover and find value in their strengths. To deliver the intervention, some of the major actions include:
Design simple, eye-catching, visually appealing posters and using community leaders as a channel of word-of-mouth promotion.
Improve the packaging of the probiotic yoghurt sachets, including the benefits and the instructions that is easy for users to understand and follow.
Enhance the communication between the WHE organization, interns and Mamas by using the Internal Communication Matrix.
Facilitate a workshop focusing on business literacy skills for empowering the Mamas. Some metrics to evaluate the progress of the three-pronged intervention include:
Tracking the channel of promotion that the clients experienced such as word-of-mouth or posters.
Feedback on the relative success or failure of the yogurt kitchen in relation to the previous year (when ICM was not implemented) from the Mamas.
Questionnaires and feedback from the Mamas after the business literacy workshop
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