I arrive at Miami International Airport before dawn, accompanied by Tim Maupin, my director of photography. We’re headed to Cap-Haitian Haiti for the week to document an extraordinary group of Haitian and American social entrepreneurs.
I’ve had the good fortune to document the group since its inception. Dr. Patricia Wolff, a St. Louis-based pediatrician, founded Meds andFood for Kids (MFK) to slow the staggering rate of malnutrition in that country. Pat–a truly driven woman–brought Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food or RUTF to Haiti in 2003. (RUTF is a sort of super-strength peanut butter; it’s ideal for underdeveloped settings because it can’t spoil, because there’s no water in it.) Since then, the Haitian government has adopted RUTF into its national protocols on treating malnutrition, using MFK’s work as inspiration. This is a tremendous accomplishment.
But what draws me to the story of MFK is its unique business model. The group made the decision early on to buy its peanuts locally. But quality was an issue. They began working with local farmers to increase yields and decrease contamination (by aflatoxin). They set up a small factory for production and packaging, which enabled them to hire local staff. The factory added an economic development dimension to their work. Now they are creating new alliances with Nutriset (a French commercial concern) and others, allowing them to break ground on a new 2000 square foot factory, hire a second shift of employees, and work with more farmers–all to keep up with the demand.