Business Network launched to Scale Up Private Sector Engagement in Nutrition Sector

ADDIS ABABA- The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Swiss-based  foundation, has launched the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network or SBN to support small and medium-sized entrepreneurs involved in Ethiopia’s food sector increase the availability and affordability of safe, nutritious food. 

The SBN is one of four global networks within the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement which supports 61 Countries, including Ethiopia, to develop a multi-stakeholder approach to scale up and invest in nutrition.

“There are so many business opportunities for the private sector to engage in the nutrition agenda of Ethiopia. GAIN facilitates the Sun Business Network in Ethiopia to bring businesses together, to facilitate partnerships, build capacity, identify challenges, and support solutions,” said Ton Haverkort, Country Director GAIN Ethiopia.

The East African Nation has registered significant strides in addressing malnutrition in the last decade. Stunting declined from 58.0% to 38.4%, underweight from 41% to 23.6%, and wasting from 12.0% to 9.9% from 2000 to 2016.

Despite such progresses, Ethiopia is still one of the highest contributors to the global burden of malnutrition after India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria. Micronutrient deficiencies such as iron deficiency, anaemia, vitamin A and D, iodine and calcium are still posing significant threat to the economy and loss of lives.

This makes the launch of the SBN timely in driving private sector engagement in Ethiopia’s food systems, according to the Network’s Officials.

SBN’s approach in Ethiopia includes convening businesses around national nutrition priorities, building national and global partnerships to scale up investments in nutrition and advocating for an enabling environment to promote business involvement in nutrition.

“Despite being one of the key players in the food system, private sector’s massive contribution for improving malnutrition in Ethiopia was side-lined for far too long. SBN Ethiopia shall bring this agenda forward on all platforms to make sure that the private sector becomes part of the solution,” said Abinet Tekle, National SBN Coordinator.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry as well as Ministry of Health acknowledges the SBN platform as a vital networking platform that can influence business practices around nutrition, leading to the increased access to available and affordable nutritious foods.

Health officials believe this will support sustainable and profitable business as well as improved health and nutrition status of the population through increased consumption of nutritious foods and help in the alleviation of malnutrition.

“The SBN Ethiopia will enable us facilitate the transformation of the Ethiopian food system and nutrition by ensuring availability, accessibility and affordability of safe, diverse and nutritious food and diets for all,” says Dr. Frew Lemma, senior adviser to the office of the state minster of Health.

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) co-convene the SBN at global level.