The Sustainable Development Goal of Solving Hunger
The successful implementation of the concept of social consumption working well in the mass market, says Sebastian Stricker
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"Sharing is caring" – A proverb that has been passed from one generation to the other possibly since the dawn of time, couldn't be implemented by most of us in our lives. A name that strikes us in this regard is Sebastian Stricker, who has not only aimed to fill hungry stomachs with food but has also guaranteed that it reaches millions around the globe. "It's actually 30 million daily food rations!" he specifies. "For every meal shared by a donor, we are able to provide a full daily food ration through the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP). The milestone of 30 million was attained a few weeks prior to Christmas. We had a big party," says the founder of UNWFP's ShareTheMeal, who is currently the CEO of Share, an organization that is working to cater the daily basic necessities to the needy.
In a discussion, Stricker elaborates more about his expedition to wipe out world hunger with two of his projects – ShareTheMeal and the latest social start-up Share.
Striving to wipe out global hunger by 2030, the aim of ShareTheMeal and Share is to attain the Sustainable Development Goal of solving hunger. However, as Stricker points out, the world still lacks far behind. The global access to nutrition is still more unequally distributed and today, one out of nine persons doesn't have access to enough food in order to lead a normal and healthy life. He says, "In our eyes, this is an unbelievable tragedy because actually, global hunger is entirely solvable. There is enough food on the planet to feed all of us. However, achieving this is a different topic. But we at share and ShareTheMeal strongly believe in it – and we prove it."
Power of Community
Share demonstrates the power of community. Since its start in 2018, they have distributed over 1.7 million meals, built 41 wells, and distributed over 450.000 soaps. These achievements have been made possible as several people supported the idea of Share and helped them to fulfill the goals.
With the consumer goods start-up Share, Stricker distributes one meal to a person in need for each nutrition product the startup sells. And with ShareTheMeal it costs only US$ 0.50 to feed one child for a day.
"This might appear as a small step, but if you consider that with ShareTheMeal, we financed more than 31 million meals to children suffering from malnutrition up until today – as well as 1.7 million meals with share in just nine months on the German market, you see what the power of a community, willing to make change happen can do. This immensely strengthens our belief that ending hunger by 2030 is truly possible," Stricker elucidates.
The Social Consumption of Share
Can consumption be social at all? Stricker says that it is "absolutely" possible. "We think that sharing makes the world a better place. With Share, we gave this simple idea a platform. In a world in which many people are still denied the most basic needs, we would like to take responsibility as a social enterprise. We want to give everyone access to food, drink, and hygiene. And everyone can help us with their daily consumption - we call this social consumption. With every purchase, we distribute an equivalent product to a person in need. We call it the 1+1 principle," he says.
Explaining further, he says, "According to the 1+1 principle, for every purchased share product, we provide a similar product to a person in need. For instance, a bottle of share water equals to a day of drinking water. Our products are not more expensive than equivalent products in the supermarket, and consumers can transparently track where the help is going via a tracking code on every product. We also cooperate with a lot of international and national NGOs such as the United Nations World Food Programme."
So far, social consumption is a niche topic applied by Stricker since the launch of Share last year and he is of the opinion that the concept also works well in the mass market. He believes that the social initiative could become the first nationwide enterprise for social entrepreneurship in Germany and Europe. "It would be great to trigger a trend that also motivates the large player to establish a similar concept. Imagine Nestlé, Unilever or Procter & Gamble would donate two cents for every bottle of water they sell! The potential for the idea of share is enormous. In Germany alone, more than 33 million litres of mineral water are drunk every day. With a market share of 0.15 per cent alone (around 50,000 bottles) we could build a well in a crisis region – every day," he explicates.
The Asia Ventures
Stricker has undertaken a few causes in Asia and aims to be the answer to those issues.
ShareTheMeal is funding a WFP project and provides meals in Rohingya refugee camps. More than half a million Rohingya people were forced to flee from Myanmar due to an outbreak of violence in their home state. They took shelter and safety in the Bangladeshi border district of Cox's Bazar, where the biggest refugee camp worldwide has developed. The WFP is on the ground, distributing emergency nutrition – nutrient-rich, high-energy biscuits – to new arrivals. ShareTheMeal funds these nutrition bars with their share nutbars – for each nutbar sold, they provide one high-energy.
"With Share alone, we were able to provide more than 440,000 meals in nine months. So, by buying share nutbars here in Germany or using the ShareTheMeal App you can help the WFP to continue providing urgently needed assistance to Rohingya refugees," he says.
Sebastian's latest startup, Share project in Jharkland, India is also currently working. Besides food and water, they are also distributing soaps to enhance hygiene for the deprived. "So far, we have distributed a total of 375,000 soaps (in Senegal, Myanmar and India), reaching about 42,000 people. In India, the largest project, we reach a total of 50,000 school children who receive soaps and hygiene training for six months (September to January). Improved hygiene practices such as proper hand washing could avoid about half of the deaths caused by diarrheal diseases. In the long run, our partner organization WFP works together with other organizations and the local government to facilitate access to the health system. So, for every soap sold in Germany, we provide soap for a person in need in India."
Paving the Road Ahead
Stricker aims to widen our product range with Share, and he believes that it will help them to provide even more funding for water, hygiene and food projects all over the world.
Taking care of food and hygiene, Stricker mentions that he is endeavoring to dive into a new topic – clothing. "For each piece of "sharewear' we will give its exact component to a homeless person or a refugee here in Berlin," he concludes.