09 October 2010

According to the International Medical Corps, there are almost 40,000 children under the age of five who are in danger of dying due to severe acute malnutrition in Burundi at any given moment. We hope that MANA’s production in Rwanda will help to serve these children with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), part of the globally-accepted protocol for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition.

This week I continued to work on locating potential factory locations in/around Kigali through the networks of people who know people. I thought we were going to have the opportunity to look at a particular existing food production factory after the Board of that company expressed interest in having us lease the facility. However, a few days later, the Board decided that they would prefer to use the facility as a distribution facility. Nonetheless, we have a number of options, including leasing from a businessman or group of business people who would build a factory according to our specifications. I also have two existing facilities to look at in the coming week.

Periodically, I have coffee with someone who might be a potential future employee of MANA. This week I met a young lady who majored in Accounting and Finance and has a few years of work experience. She comes highly recommended from some friends here in town. I’m encouraged by the talent pool in Kigali and fully expect that the eventual MANA team in Rwanda will be tremendous.

I had lunch this week with a friend of mine who works in the government as a policy advisor in social services. We had a very engaging discussion about the allocation of scarce resources and its application when battling malnutrition. Particularly, we talked about investing in the brains of young children (from conception to age 3), when brain development is occurring rapidly, as a long-term investment strategy in the development of a nation.

Next weekend I’ll be traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark for an RUTF meeting with the UNICEF Supply Division. Two of my colleagues from the States will be joining me there. UNICEF is preparing to issue an RFP for RUTF for 2011-2011, and we are planning to submit a compelling response!

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