A new venture that leverages advances in basic science and R&D to prevent and reduce malnutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa. Grant Gordon has worked in humanitarian response for a decade and a half and was most recently the Senior Director of Innovation Strategy at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he managed a broad portfolio of humanitarian innovation projects. Grant successfully supported a 50-person team and oversaw the development of new capabilities for IRC including innovative finance, design, and behavioral science.
Grant believes that malnutrition is the most important problem facing the world. Undernutrition contributes to 50% of under 5 deaths globally and leads to decreased learning, wages, and overall GDP (estimates suggest that malnutrition costs the world $3.5 trillion each year). More broadly, malnutrition is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. While successful interventions for severe acute malnutrition have been developed, such as Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, there is still massive unmet global need, exacerbated by challenges around uptake and adoption.
Grant is now launching a new non-profit, Essential, that leverages advances in basic science and R&D to prevent and reduce malnutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa. Essential's goal is to create the next generation of cost-effective, lifesaving malnutrition interventions while building a sustainable business model and generating the evidence-base required to create broader systems change.
UP is supporting Grant’s full-time shift to pursue this entrepreneurial endeavor, enabling him to test out the R&D, product development, and distribution approach for an initial product set.
We named Grant Gordon as an inaugural awardee of our extraordinary leader search and made a seed investment in his new venture Essential in March 2022. Essential leverages advances in the biosciences to create breakthrough solutions to tackle malnutrition, starting with using fermentation to create affordable, accessible, and climate-resilient proteins. Since launching, Essential created the first bio-manufactured protein in Sub-Saharan Africa, designed new low-cost bioreactors to scale their production processes, established an operational footprint in Ethiopia and Kenya, generated interest from commercial and institutional buyers, and built a great team, now also led by Essential's Co-Founder and CTO, Fre Tachea. The next phase will focus on scaling their scientific process and production capabilities, and building key partnerships across the value chain. UP has committed to fund a third of Essential’s current raise and they have already secured a $1m commitment toward this goal. Learn more about Grant Gordon and Essential here.