I spent the first 20 years of my life on our family farm in the south of Cote d'Ivoire-West Africa. While attending local schools, my seven siblings and I worked alongside our parents farming cocoa, coffee and many produces. Smallholder farming is thus in my genes. In 1990, I left those farming communities and migrated in the US to pursue my education. In 10 years in the US, I turned my life around from a farming boy to a University of Chicago MBA graduate then embarked on an investment banking career on Wall Street. In 2008, I revisited the farming communities of my childhood and the rampant malnutrition (3/4 of school age children and 2/3 child bearing age women have iron deficiency) and poverty (62% in rural areas) that I saw made me wonder: how could a country that produces so much food have its children and women suffer from nutrient deficiency? As I researched more the topic, I realized that the whole Sub Saharan African region has 28% of the world's malnourished children population. These startling statistics prompted me to devise a sustainable private enterprise - Gatom Foods, not only to address malnutrition and poverty in sub Saharan Africa by leveraging the rich superfood products of the region but also to provide healthy meal choices to world consumers, particularly the food-allergy (vegans, celiacs and diabetics-just to name a few) constrained ones.
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