Mamaby: Eat for change

Oxford, United KingdomMumbai, India
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mamaby helps women in Indian slums deliver healthy and well nourished babies. We have a range of natural Indian snacks, scientifically proven to elevate a newborn's health. We will provide these at very low cost, via a cross-subsidy, by also selling them in the UK and to the middle class in India.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if you could buy a snack and save a child's life in India?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Indian slums, 40% of pregnant women are malnourished and malnutrition is the underlying cause in 45% of deaths in children under the age of five. The government supplies basic foods (e.g. flour & rice) to stop deaths from hunger; however, these do not provide the micronutrients (e.g. vitamins & minerals) essential for foetal and early-child development, resulting in stunting, mental under-development and long-term health conditions.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Mamaby helps women in Indian slums deliver healthy and well nourished babies. With our partners we have developed a range of traditional Indian snacks which are nutritionally fortified, but 100% natural. Behind the products, there are a series of clinical studies which validate their effect on pregnant women and their babies. We provide these snacks to pregnant women in Indian slums to fight malnutrition and its detrimental effects on foetal and newborn development. We will provide this nutrition at very low cost to the poorest women, by running a cross-subsidy model and selling our snacks in the UK, as well as the Indian middle class.


European Finalist (top 100 of 10,000) at the Hult Prize 2014; Finalist (top 4 of 100) at McKinsey Venture Academy 2015; Finalist (top 5 of 50) at Wolfson Innovate 2015; Semi-finals (top 40 of 400) of the Children's Prize 2015
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Meera lives in the Bandra slums of Mumbai and just gave birth to her third child. At the start of pregnancy, the local health worker informed her about Mamaby’s nutritional scheme and advised her to enrol. She attended weekly community groups with other pregnant women, where she received Mamaby nutritional snacks. Her baby, Noora, was born healthy and strong. Compared to the average newborn whose mother had not benefited from Mamaby's snacks, Noora's weight was higher, her organs (heart, liver and brain) were better developed and her bones were stronger. At the community groups, Meera also received practical advice on how to help her family be healthier through better diet and lifestyle. Noora received the start in life she deserves!

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The effects of these snacks, in terms of health and compliance, was documented during a large scale, clinical, randomised, control trial, involving 5000 women from Indian slums. The key outcomes of this study included increased birthweight by a mean of 48g and reduced low birthweight by 20%; the children born to the intervention have been followed up 5 years from birth, and demonstrate a stronger immune system and better neurological development. We are now building a sustainable business framework behind this great nutritional intervention, which will ensure that more pregnant women and their children can enjoy the health benefits, independent of the ephemeral financial support from research studies/humanitarian aid. Starting with the 21 slums that our Mumbai-based NGO partner operates in, we hope to reach 8,000 women and their newborn children over the next 5 years.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Over the next 5 to 10 years we aim to spread across India first in urban slum settings, replicating our Mumbai model, and later in rural settings also. By partnering with existing NGO's and other community-centred organisations across India, we hope to franchise our nutritional programme across the country. Commercially, we aim to build a trusted social brand that allows the mass market to support an important social cause through every-day purchases. We will first expand in the UK market, then India, before expanding into mainland Europe and the US.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Financial sustainability will be achieved via cross-subsidy model with snacks sold commercially in India and the UK. This ensures that we can provide the snacks at low cost to the slum communities with decreasing dependence on grants/donor funding with time. Strong commercial sales are expected due to: (1) market gap for ready-to-eat healthy Indian snacks; (2) 100% natural; (3) customer able to support a social cause without paying a premium.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The majority of solutions to malnutrition focus on providing staple foods to reduce deaths due to hunger. However, these micronutrient-poor foods do very little to address the health conditions affecting current and future generations. Furthermore, micronutrient-rich solutions based on artificial supplements are less bio-available and demonstrate poor uptake amongst poorly educated and highly traditional communities. Of these malnutrition solutions there are even fewer that operate a cross-subsidy model for long term sustainability, most relying on governmental grants and donations.

Founding Story

During a global health study, Mamaby's team undertook assessment of access to healthcare and exposure to various health risk factors in the slums of Mumbai. Talking to pregnant women, we witnessed the poor levels of compliance with artificial nutritional supplements provided by the government (iron and folate tablets), mainly due to a lack of understanding. Simultaneously, levels of stunting amongst children were staggering, causing child mortality and morbidity. It is this experience that opened our eyes to the undeniable bond between food and health. This also taught us the importance of natural, culturally appropriate foods, absolutely essential for long-term uptake by the communities.


Adam Bacon (Chief Executive Officer, full time): MSc Mathematics & Physics, experience in Strategy Consulting and Project Management & Business Operations. Arvind Raghu (Chief Technology Officer, full time): MSc Biomedical Engineering, experience in Large Scale Health Interventions and Affordable Health Technology. Elina Naydenova (Chief Impact Officer, part-time): MSc Biomedical Engineering, experience in Global Health and Social Innovation. Jacob McKnight: CEO of Altitude Medical, strategy advisor. The Centre for the Study of Social Change (CSSC): Mumbai-based NGO, implementation partner. Growing UK commercial operations, and following financing, we will look to recruit an Operations Manager (with experience in food production) to optimise our processes and reduce cost. We will also look to recruit a Branding/Marketing Manager to optimise sales and scale nationally. As the project grows, we will look to expand sales into India, attracting an India Programme Manager to launch and scale commercial operations.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Email from a friend

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder, Chief Impact Officer

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Zero Hunger.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Before starting Mamaby Adam was a management consultant, advising organisations on growth strategy and innovation within the fast moving consumer goods industry, focused on snacks and drinks. He has previously worked in project management and manufacturing operations in engineering as well as in investment banking for emerging markets.

Arvind is a biomedical engineer specialising in affordable health technology for resource-constrained settings. His expertise includes the use of data-driven approaches for chronic disease management. Arvind was a Wellcome Trust/Oxford Centre for Excellence scholar, leading a large-scale trial (70,000 patients) that focused on improving access to cardiovascular disease prevention and management in rural India. He is a two time recipient of the Indian Academy of Sciences research fellowship and previously worked at the Indian Institute of Science & the National Centre for Biological Science in Bangalore.

Elina is a scientist passionate about disruptive innovation, currently a doctorate candidate at Oxford's Healthcare Innovation Programme. She is part of the core team behind the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI), led by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and the WHO. Previously, Elina has worked in: Medical Devices at the WHO, emerging markets within investment banking as well as several philanthropic organisations dedicated to health and development. In 2014 Elina was the Oxford University Campus Director for the Hult Prize - the world’s largest crowd-sourcing platform for social change, co-created by the Clinton Global Initiative.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

CSSC is a Mumbai-based NGO which implements large scale research projects with national and international partners. The organisation operates in more than 20 slums in Mumbai, where it has trained and employs local community workers. Furthermore, CSSC implemented the Mumbai Nutrition Project (SARAS), which investigated the short- and long-term effects of natural fortified snacks on pregnant women and their newborn children. During this large randomised trial on 5000 women from Mumbai slums, CSSC collected multi-dimensional medical data throughout pregnancy and also provided the nutrition, including procurement, production and distribution.

Mamaby was recently included in the Women of Impact Programme that Prime Advocates runs for pro-bono clients; this provides us with access to key legal and market strategy mentorship and services.

Leon Houseman is the head of Marketing at White Space Analysis, a leading market analysis consultancy. He is providing mentorship to Mamaby's team regarding customer development, branding and marketing strategy.

Jacob McKnight: As the CEO of Altitude Medical, a medical technology company, Jacob developed a successful business framework for a novel sanitising technology. He led his product from concept design to market, raising and managing a multi-million dollar budget.