The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) facilitates a Soy Food Entrepreneur Network, a virtual network of entrepreneurs around the world who innovate to address challenges to operating sustainable, profitable soy food businesses. Entrepreneurs share their problems and innovations with SIL, which distributes this information for adoption or discussion through webinars and other communication outlets. Participation in the Network helps entrepreneurs improve their businesses as they benefit from collective resources from peers around the world.
The Network began in 2015 with the installation of 5 SoyCows in Ghana and Mozambique, with the purpose of recording detailed metrics about the inputs and outputs of a soy dairy business. SIL uses this data to develop sustainable business plans for entrepreneurs and advise donors who want to support soy food entrepreneurship in developing communities. Since 2015, the Network has expanded to over 30 members, with 5 more SoyCows in Malawi regularly contributing metrics to SIL’s analysis project.
The metrics on production and product distribution are quantifiable results that help managers know the progress of their soy food enterprise. Follow-up support from SIL helps operators ensure that their enterprises meet their business goals and consumer demand.
Through its Network programming, SIL educates entrepreneurs about the importance of benchmarking their businesses, specifically addressing cost of production analyses, equipment utilization, economic performance, income generation, volume of product produced, safety considerations, quality specifications and number of people served. SIL’s team continues to strengthen the growing Network by providing data-driven results, evidence-based knowledge and new technologies. Establishing a sound foundation for soy food entrepreneurs will stimulate economic development, improve nutrition and reduce poverty in Africa and other developing regions.
To become a part of the soy food entrepreneur network, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or a member of SIL’s Human Nutrition Research Team.
Food Science & Human Nutrition
University of Illinois