EAST AFRICA– Food and beverage company Nestlé has partnered Tembo Educationto deliver customised, nutrition-based curriculums to families across Kenya, through SMS and WhatsApp messages.
The aim of the initiative is to help families provide their children with the best possible nutritional start in life by delivering information, tools and tips that could tackle malnutrition and potentially save lives.
Tembo Educationis a social enterprise that educates young children around the worldthrough mobile phones to educate parents with low levels of nutritional awareness and limited access to information sources.
The initiative, launched through Nestlé’s open innovation platform, HENRi@Nestlé, forms part of Nestlé’s ambition to improve nutritional levels across the East and Southern Africa region (ESAR).
The programme will start with a pilot in Kenya, expanding to a further six countries in the East Africa region.
Parents enrolled in the Nestlé programme will receive frequent customised lesson plans and health tips directly to their phones.
The initiative will take advantage of rapid mobile connectivity growth across sub-Saharan Africa, with technological advancements pushing mobile phone penetration to as high as 80% in parts of the region, with more than 672 million people across the continent benefiting from 2G services according to Intelsat.
Nearly 73,000 children are severely malnourished in Kenya alone, according to joint assessments conducted by Kenya’s County Departments and UNICEF in 2017.
The initiative aims to leverage feature phone connectivity to spread nutritional knowledge in the ESAR region.
Nestlé says that the programme forms part of its ambition to make 50 million kids healthier by 2030 and will deliver its Nestlé for Healthy Kids initiative to over 200 families in the region, targeting parents in particular.
This focus stems from research suggesting the importance of parental involvement in the education of young children.
“We believe this project is a real step forward in realising our joint goal of making 50 million healthier kids by 2030. With the Kenyan Ministry of Education’s support, the partnership is only likely to grow and we would love Tembo Education to one day become a staple part of a national curriculum. The future is exciting and we can’t wait to see how the project progresses,” said James Ojiambo, Project lead at Nestlé.
Parents enrolled in the programme will receive frequent customised lesson plans and health tips directly to their phones.
Those who successfully disseminate the lessons to their children will be rewarded with various incentives, including free data for their mobile phones.
After the pilot in Kenya, the programme aims to expand to a further six countries in the region.
Gerardo Mazzeo, Global Innovation Director at Nestlé, said: “We’re continuously on the lookout for innovative and creative partners to help us tackle some of the world’s biggest health, wellness and sustainability issues. By opening our objective up to external partners, we were able to draw on the fantastic talent and knowledge of the outside world.
Together with Tembo Education, we’ve identified a potential solution to a challenge of real magnitude and we’re excited about what the initiative could achieve for the region. Combining Tembo’s educational capabilities with our scale and reach, we’re confident that we’re going to improve health – and ultimately lives – across the region.”
The company says that it continues to utilize cellular connectivity to help solve some of the world’s sustainability and wellness challenges.
In 2017, its HENRi@Nestléand Nespresso launched ‘Connected farms’ with US-based startup, Kakaxi, a project that uses online portals and live video streams to connect consumers directly with farmers in Colombia – increasing transparency of supply chains and raising the profile of sustainability initiatives.
Earlier this year, the company launched Nestlé for Healthier Kids, a global initiative to help 50 million children live healthier lives by 2030 that includes a commitment to accelerate the transformation of its food and beverage portfolio worldwide, including adding more fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains and micronutrients, as well as continuing to reduce sugars, salt and saturated fats.