If you’re familiar with Sight and Life, you may have already heard of the OBAASIMA project, at some point – whether on our webpage, in our Nutrient Profiling Magazine, or in a short video interview. But let’s briefly set the scene for those of you still wondering, what exactly is OBAASIMA?
Let’s start with the essentials. OBAASIMA is a trusted symbol for fortified foods, aiming to increase the availability of, and access to, affordable nutritious foods in Ghana. The OBAASIMA seal guarantees nutritional quality, while easily identifying fortified food products containing locally appropriate micronutrients, and providing a source of 18 vitamins and minerals. The aim of this nutrition solution is to improve micronutrient intake in pregnant women and women of child-bearing age by increasing the number of fortified food products, and access to healthy nutritious foods for women of reproductive age, via an easy-to-identify “OBAASIMA” seal, which ensures that products have a sound nutrition profile. Another powerful aspect of the OBAASIMA seal is that it assists local food processors through training, technical advice, and business development.
Unfortunately, rates of micronutrient malnutrition in Ghana are high. If we take a look at the data, we find that 40% of Ghanian women aged 15-49 are overweight, while 20% are anemic and 54% are deficient in folate, an important vitamin to fight anemia and improve birth outcomes.
You may be wondering, how did this all start? It has taken nine years and a lot of hard work to reach a position of scale-up, all beginning in July 2013 through a partnership between Sight and Life, Royal DSM N.V., the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI), and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).
Today, the OBAASIMA trademark is administered by the Association of Ghana Industries and regulated by the Ghana Standards Authority, which helps to inspire healthy food choices by making products easily identifiable and recognizable.
OBAASIMA was uniquely designed and included the right stakeholders for success.
Market-driven cross-category fortification with local food producers is an effective and sustainable approach, as it makes nutritious family food aspirational, accessible and affordable, reaching women of reproductive age (WRA) while creating value for local food producers.
OBAASIMA is profitable: For the company involved it allows additional sales with a healthy gross profit of 40% of retail price on average, and a premix cost of just about 4% of retail price. OBAASIMA helps strengthen nutrition champions which create qualified jobs.
OBAASIMA makes a significant positive social impact: It improves the health of more than 11,000 WRA, mothers and their children, while generating 161 times more social return on investment and 770 USD social benefits per WRA (assuming sales continue).
OBAASIMA also incorporates a variety of marketing approaches with the aim of creating demand (structured demand for WFP channels also accounted for some demand for Tom Vita) for products with the OBAASIMA seal. A few of these products include Tom Vita, Dunu Tom Brown, Gari mix and Lola milk biscuits
If we reach the yearly success sales level expected by the SME CEOs, OBAASIMA could reach almost half a million women with current products, generating 172 times more social impact than the invested amount of 65k USD (384k GHC) per year.
The potential for scale-up of the OBAASIMA project and findings are bright. The benefits of the OBAASIMA seal for my home country, Ghana, are that consumers can now make quick, informed decisions about purchasing nutritious, fortified food when they enter a busy market.
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