Western Heads East (WHE) aims to bring probiotic yoghurt to underserved communities in collaboration with African partners in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, and Uganda. By establishing ‘probiotic yoghurt kitchens’ in these areas, WHE hopes to improve health, provide sustainable development, empower women, and stimulate economic development. Probiotic yoghurt has several health benefits related to boosted immunity and maintaining a healthy microbiota, making it a favourable product to market in areas that are burdened with malnutrition and disease. Food insecurity and malnutrition, compounded by poverty and various sociocultural, economic, political and environmental factors, has been an area of concern for Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda, prompting the need to provide context-specific programming to address these issues appropriately.
The proposed solution addresses potential setbacks in current programming, including cultural norms that prevent women in the community from sustaining yoghurt programs without WHE’s direct assistance, profit not being prioritized in the business culture, inconsistent milk supply and quality, the lack of probiotic use in yoghurt production, lack of awareness of the probiotic benefits, and the stigma surrounding HIV that creates negative associations with yoghurt kitchens that provide subsidized probiotic yoghurt to HIV patients.
The proposed intervention leverages community participation. Community health mamas are tasked with outreach programming aimed at increasing probiotic benefit awareness and counselling local community members. Additionally, a community fund initiative was created to support local developmental programming. This will not only incentivize yoghurt kitchen purchases, but also establishes tangible and valuable goals for yoghurt mamas to strive for. The goal is to create community hubs within the yoghurt kitchens, through which, social enterprises can catalyze evolutionary change within low-resource settings.