Food Security

Social Enterprise Challenge
Food Security in Urban Slums by 2018

2013 Winners


Aspire team winning

Source: Innovation Excellence

Last Monday, September 23, 2013, President Bill Clinton hosted the Hult Prize Global Finals and Awards Dinner as the opening event of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York. Six finalist teams pitched their ideas aimed at solving Food Security in urban slums front of a world-class audience of political leaders, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, and media luminaries.

The teams prepared for the pitch by attending the IXLerator for six weeks from July 2nd to August 15th hosted in IXL headquarters here in Boston. The IXLerator helped the teams build a real business out of their ideas and hone their pitches to present to President Clinton.

This is Aspire's winning solution in their own words:

"Our disruptive social enterprise, Aspire, aims to improve access to edible insects worldwide. We develop and distribute affordable and sustainable insect farming technologies for countries with established histories of entomophagy, or insect-consumption. Our farming solutions stabilize the supply of edible insects year-round, drastically improving and expanding the economic ecosystem surrounding insect consumption in the regions serviced. Not only do our durable farming units create income stability for rural farmers, they have a wider social impact by lowering the price of edible insects. This is central to our mission of increasing access to highly nutritious edible insects amongst the poorest, and therefore neediest, members of society."


See an interview with the team and Hult Prize Founder Ahmad Ashkar by Fox News here.

Case Abstract

Social Enterprise Challenge: Food Security in Urban Slums by 2018
With Special Call to Action from President Bill Clinton

Almost a billion people worldwide need food security. This is unacceptable. Food security should be a basic right for all human beings. By improving food security, we can increase productivity and provide opportunities for individuals around the globe. In urban slums, almost 200 million people lack food security. Because of urbanization, this problem will continue to get worse if nothing is done.

Poor slum dwellers struggle to get safe, sufficient, affordable and easily accessible food. These consumers often lack knowledge to make the right food choices. They struggle to find food that is affordable and nearby, especially over time. Finally, the food that is available does not have critical calories and nutrients.

Global trends suggest a worsening scenario in the future. Climate change and volatility will create uncertainty in food production. Growing populations (particularly urban ones) will place an ever-increasing demand on food production. Land degradation and demand for cash crops will reduce arable land for food production. Food price fluctuations will amplify all of these problems for poor people living in poor areas. Finally, the benefits seen in the last century from industrial farming are reaching their limits.

Unfortunately, food security in slums is not a priority. Governments tend to see slums as illegal habitats and actively try to limit incentives for people to relocate to these areas. The private sector does not traditionally see in slums a lucrative market full of attractive customers. Finally, NGOs have not made enough progress in upgrading and improving slums.

Social enterprises may be the best option to addressing this issue. They focus on earning a profit as well as improving social welfare. Social enterprises are also designed to be scalable, meaning large numbers of people can be served in a short amount of time.

However, building a successful social enterprise will be difficult. Consumers who have limited and fluctuating incomes are difficult to serve. Partners across the food value chain are difficult to work with dependably. Food producers may not provide enough nutritious food. Food processors may not provide safe food that is easy to eat. Throughout the chain, food distributors may not move food efficiently. Operations within a social enterprise are difficult to manage. Razor-thin margins mean that finances must be efficient. Changing circumstances mean that assets must be able to bear risk. Inadequate education means that employee training must be flexible. Finally, limited infrastructure is difficult to manage. Sanitary facilities are necessary for food processing and preparation, electricity is needed for refrigeration and preservation, and physical logistics must be efficient for distribution and storage.

Can we build sustainable, scalable, and fast-growing social enterprises to increase food security in slums by 2018?

Case Sources

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Case Solving Tools

The Management Consulting Institute (MCI) is offering free access to an online course for Hult Prize teams. This course could help you structure your thinking and approach to solving the challenge. To gain access, please register here. Once you register, you will receive an email detailing how to access the online course here.


Food Security Case Infographic

created by Yavneeka and Karishma Patel

Food Security Case Infographic