Yogurt Mamas: Probiotics in Tanzania
Oana Branzei, David J. Sharp, Jessica Kelly , Osama Siddiqui
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Sustainable Development; Entrepreneurial Business Growth; Entrepreneurial Marketing; Emerging Markets, Entrepreneurship, General Management/Strategy, International, Marketing, Manufacturing, Administrative, Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services, Health Care Services
The case illustrates a grassroots enterprise path to self-sufficiency in a subsistence market context. It explores the gradual evolution of a business model with strong pro-social mandates (pro-health, pro-women) and asks which growth options may best marry profitability and positive social change. The Mwanza-based Yogurt Mamas emerge as entrepreneurial role models in their communities; with funds from Western donors, and an exciting new technology, they seem set on their way to success. Yet close-up analyses reveal several outstanding concerns, including funding sufficiency, clarity of roles and responsibilities, patent restrictions, kitchen ownership, food safety and quality concerns and liability concerns among others. Despite positive health impact assessments, the venture is struggling to grow - and growth is the key to its future. Focused on a mix non-profit and retail model, the Yogurt Mamas produce and locally distribute a probiotic yogurt to their small community; they are interconnected in a local value chain, and benefit from annual inflows of disciplinary expertise from western partners, including free access to patented technology and free culturing of probiotic bacteria in a local lab. However, as the project funding winds down, business issues come to the fore. The case asks students to critically analyze the hurdles to profitability and suggest working solutions to scaling up the venture. Options include technology/model licensing and franchising, organic growth and expansion along value chain links to gain higher margins and greater control over the milk supply and to extend their distribution reach to neighboring communities. If the Yogurt Mamas cannot find an attractive and feasible growth option, the partners will have to contemplate venture termination once the grant funding comes to an end, or consider alternative exit options, including partnerships or adjacent business models.