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Navyn Salem, founder of the non-profit organization Edesia, has a very clear message for the world: if we don’t intervene to provide the right nutrient-rich food for children under the age of two when the brain is developing, the damage caused by malnutrition is irreversible. Salem launched Edesia in Tanzania in 2007 to create jobs and solve global health problems. I recently talked with her from Edesia’s U.S.-based headquarters in Rhode Island, where the organization has just opened a new 83,000 square foot facility that’s slated to not only double the amount of ready-to-use foods it manufactures, but also explore innovations.

“We have a highly sophisticated manufacturing operation to create nutrient-rich food that adheres to the strictest quality standards and traceability mandates of our customers,” said Salem. “Now that we have this extra capacity, we intend to go beyond emergencies to address additional gaps in other parts of the world like Latin America and the United States. We also plan to have R&D programs for new products that will directly assist women at critical parts of their life such as if they are pregnant, malnourished or HIV-positive.”

Edesia has helped treat and prevent malnutrition for over four million children in more than 47 countries worldwide working with customers like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP). Salem expects to reach 10 million children by 2020.

Technology scales services for greater impact

Edesia purchased SAP Business One with a donation from SAP. It was implemented by SoftEngine, an SAP partner. Consolidating three paper-based systems into one provides every department with real-time data transparency.

“We’re able to track raw materials from procurement, testing, production and quality control to finance, sales, and shipping and delivery making us more efficient and nimble,” said Brian Dugas, Senior IT Manager for Edesia. “People can bring up the data they need on a tablet while they’re walking the warehouse floor to do inventory analysis. We can roll out the system to any device we want. The software is incredibly usable, and we can customize it as we grow.”

Future plans will integrate SAP Business One with Edesia’s computerized process control system, automating recipe production. “This will free up people to do high-value tasks, and help us produce more while running lean,” said Dugas. “We’ll have the data to monitor processes and address inefficiencies whether it means fixing machines, providing education or innovating production approaches.”

Overall, Edesia is able to quickly act with responsive and preventative food products as emergencies arise. These situations include the refugee crisis in Syria, widespread drought in Ethiopia and the ongoing impact of Ebola in West Africa. Salem sees the issue as more than just survival.

“Every box we send out is equivalent to the life of a child. By providing life-saving nutrients early in life, we are helping to not only extend their lives but also their cognitive abilities. This has a life-long impact,” said Salem. “A corporate donation like SAP Business One allows us to reach as many children as we can for the least cost. It gives us the opportunity to do big things that we couldn’t have done before.”

This year SAP will continue to evaluate NGOs and social enterprises for technology donations, helping people gain the skills they need to tackle society’s problem in the digital economy.

Follow me @smgaler