Lieff Cabraser adds associate

Former Sixth Circuit, D.C. appeals clerk to focus on fraud, mass tort, whistleblowers
Oct 19, 2015 7:06 AM

Q&A: Ted Fischer of Vanderbilt

Ted Fischer is professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University. Over a five-year period, he teamed with Steve Moore (head of Middle Tennessee-based Shalom Foundation)  and  multiple VU students on a malnutrition-oriented and social enterprise effort called NutriPlus, which produces the supplement, Mani+.

The supplement (a fortified nut paste that provides calories, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals essential to brain development in babies and toddlers) is used to specifically address the nutritional deficiencies seen in Central American children. It is the first ready-to-use supplementary Food (RUSF)  to be both locally produced and locally sourced in Guatemala City, Guatemala, creating local jobs and supporting local farmers.
The new facility (read more here) opened on Sept. 23 and will eventually mass produce Mani+. Eventually, Fischer and Moore hope to produce 25 tons of Mani+ a month, reaching about 25,000 children.

Post Managing Editor William Williams recently chatted with Fischer regarding the effort.

Who is your market for the product?

My partner Steve Moore and I started this as a social enterprise, and so we are trying to make it an economically viable business whose mission is to alleviate malnutrition in Guatemala and Central America. With our first product, Mani+, we are selling it to clinics and non-governmental organizations, which then give it away in their nutrition programs. But our goal is to gradually move into a B2B model to sell retail to the consumers.

The consumers of Mani+ are desperately poor. How can they be viable customers?

It is true that the people we are helping mostly live in conditions that we would describe as abject poverty. They often do not have indoor plumbing or bathrooms; electricity is a luxury. And their poverty is obviously one of the causes of malnutrition. At the same time, we sometimes forget, in our shock, that even such poor families do have some disposable income. They buy treats for the kids when they can, and a growing number have cheap prepaid cell phones. This does not mean that they are not poor; they are. But they are also a market.

Some years back, the business professor C.K. Prahalad wrote a piece on “the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.” He found that while margins are thinner and portion sizes and prices have to be smaller, there is a huge market among the world’s poor. We are trying to tap into that, but with a product that can help build up a family’s human capital.

How do you make a social enterprise like this sustainable?

Yes, we talk a lot about sustainability these days, but the term is used so much that its meaning is not always clear. We see sustainability in a couple of ways. First, our social enterprise needs to produce enough revenue to cover the costs of production and fund research and development for future products. At the same time, by linking our production to local supply chains, we are trying to strengthen markets for farmers and open doors for new opportunities that they can take in any number of directions. Steve and I have been putting a lot of money into this, but we can’t do that forever. We cannot, and do not want to, count on charity. We want this to be a viable economic enterprise whose end is not profit but rather maximizing a public good.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced trying to do business in international contexts and with a food-production business?

Steve always says that when doing business in Guatemala, everything costs twice as much and takes three times longer than projected. And that has proven to be true with this. First, we had no idea how complicated making the product would be. We thought we could just mix peanut paste, powdered milk, vegetable oil, sugar and the vitamins and minerals and package it. But the food science turned out to be complicated, the packaging turned out to be complicated. And the regulatory regime is extremely difficult, and even more so for an organization such as ours that resolved not to grease the wheels with off-the-book payments.  Doing things properly and legally added enormous expense and time. But we want to hold ourselves to the highest international standards.

How have Vanderbilt students, particularly those at Owen, contributed to the business?

We were very fortunate to work with Professor Bart Victor at the Owen School of Management and his students in the Project Pyramid program. We had these MBA students working alongside medical students, nursing students and anthropologists to help us plan this entire project. The business students took the lead in creating an accounting system and product tracking process for us; the Peabody students worked on our education program; and the medical and nursing students provided nutrition expertise. Earlier this year, a group of Owen students wrote up Mani+ as a case study and held a competition for business schools around the country to see who could offer us the best advice. And we are acting on several of the great ideas we got, including building up our own production capacity.

How challenging is it to meld academia with business?

It is true that sometime we academics are more comfortable critiquing programs and ideas than offering viable alternatives. At the same time, as human beings, there are times when we see a clearly unjust situation and have to act. Innocent children being stunted for life because of malnutrition is one of those cases. Half of all children in Guatemala are malnourished. And this is one of those projects where we are able to effectively combine research and teaching with service to humanity. That is the ideal.

Oct 19, 2015 6:45 AM

Haslam names 205 people to state boards, commissions

More than 200 people have been named to 88 Tennessee boards and commissions, according to the governor's office.

Among them are nearly 40 Nashvillians to serve on advisory or rule-making bodies, such as those regulating boilers or water use, advising on education issue or overseeing various branches of the medical profession or natural resources. Some appointees were tapped for the first time while others were reappointed to their existing seats.

“I want to thank these men and women for their commitment to serving our state on these boards and commissions,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a media release Friday. “They will represent the people of Tennessee well in this capacity.”

Here is the full list. 

Tennessee Athletic Commission

Steve Hannah, Brentwood

Donald Wynn, Nashville

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

Scott Lillard, Nashville

Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation Board of Directors

Cordia Harrington, Nashville

Advisory Council for the Education of Students with Disabilities

Shannon Streett, Woodbury

Patricia Valladares, Nashville

Advisory Council on Workers' Compensation

Jason Denton, Lebanon

Lynn Lawyer, Nashville

Jerry Mayo, Brentwood

Air Pollution Control Board

Tricia Metts, Johnson City

Applied Behavior Analyst Licensing Committee

Melissa Switzer, Knoxville

Archaeological Advisory Council

David Dye, Memphis

Rex Weeks, Nashville

Lauren Ridenour, Nashville

Architects and Engineers Board of Examiners

Richard Bursi, Germantown

Robert Campbell, Jr., Knoxville

Frank Wagster, Jackson

Aviation Funding Task Force

John Black, Smyrna

Scott Brockman, Germantown

Jo Ann Speer, Union City

Patrick Wilson, Gray

Beech River Watershed Development Authority

Scott Barber, Parsons

Bryan Bunch, Lexington

Board for Licensing Contractors

Mark Brodd, Knoxville

Keith Whittington, Johnson City

Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities

Sherry Robbins, Knoxville

Board for Professional Counselors, Marital and Family Therapists and Clinical Pastoral Therapists

Howard Nelson, Arlington

Board of Athletic Trainers

Monroe Abram, Antioch

Helen Binkley, Murfreesboro

Walter Fitzpatrick, III, Cookeville

Craig Moorhouse, Jonesborough

Board of Boiler Rules

Gene Robinson, Mt. Juliet

Board of Chiropractic Examiners

Joseph Amato, Kingsport

Board of Communication Disorders and Sciences

Carrie Crittendon, Union City

Deborah Starr, Memphis

Richard Morton, Memphis

Board of Dentistry

Randall Prince, Dyersburg

Mary Warner, Chapmansboro

Board of Dietitian and Nutritionist Examiners

Patrick Parham, Franklin

Board of Examiners in Psychology

Rebecca Joslin, Franklin

Board of Judicial Conduct

Chris Hodges, Nashville

Ward Phillips, Knoxville

Board of Medical Examiners

Melanie Blake, Signal Mountain

Board of Respiratory Care

Gail Braddock, Germantown

Building Finance Committee

Randy Gibson, Knoxville

Lonnie Haley, Memphis

Debbie Small, Pleasant View

Child Fatality Prevention Team

The Honorable Donna Scott Davenport, Lascassas

Commission on Aging and Disability

Mike Callahan, Monterey

Cele Curtis, Cleveland

Jerry Lukach, Kingsport

Douglas Henry State Museum Commission

Harbert Alexander, Sr., Jackson

Pete Claussen, Knoxville

Walter Knestrick, Nashville

Deanie Parker, Memphis

Thomas Smith, Brentwood

Elevator and Amusement Device Safety Board

Robbie Fox, Sevierville

Lewis Moorer, Jr., Franklin

Energy Efficient Schools Council

Bob Turner, Somerville

Jason Vance, Madisonville

Governor's Council for Armed Forces, Veterans and Their Families

Anthony Holt, Gallatin

John Krenson, Brentwood

Shawn Wilson, Antioch

Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission

Warren Gooch, Oak Ridge

Great War Commission

Deborah York, Pall Mall

Health Services and Development Agency

Thom Mills, Knoxville

Corey Ridgway, Brentwood

Humanities Tennessee Board of Directors

Karen Williams, Franklin         

Information Systems Council

Donald Enfinger, Fairview

Jason Gunnoe, Nashville

Jeffrey Kriseman, Nashville

Keep Tennessee Beautiful Advisory Council

Trey Bruce, Nashville

Maggi Burns, Chattanooga

Land Between the Lakes Advisory Board

Dwight Van de Vate, Knoxville

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Statewide Planning and Policy Council

Joe Page, Bristol

Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission

Nathan James, Nashville

Tamara Mason, Arlington

Ladonna McFall, Manchester

B.J. Worthington, Clarksville

Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Committee

Iva Michelle Russell, Monteagle

Alan Schwendimann, Nashville

Purnima Unni, Nashville          

Polysomnography Professional Standards Committee

Adam Clark, Knoxville

Post-Conviction Defender Oversight Commission

Niesha Wolfe, Clarksville

Mary Wagner, Memphis

Southern Regional Education Board

Anthony Wise, Knoxville

State Board of Accountancy

Janet Booker-Davis, Franklin

Stephen Eldridge, Jackson

Larry Elmore, Knoxville

Gabe Roberts, Nashville

State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners

Anita Charlton, Spring Hill

Brenda Graham, Clarksville

Patricia Richmond, Franklin

State Board of Equalization

Bill Bennett, Ooltewah

State Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors

Tim Lingerfelt, Kingsport

State Rehabilitation Council

Samantha Moreno, Knoxville

State Soil Conservation Board

Tommy Surber, McKenzie

Dwight King, Piney Flats

Kenneth Sneed, Drummonds

State Workforce Development Board

Martha Axford, Knoxville

Rogers Anderson, Franklin

Timothy Burchfield, Piney Flats

Trudy Carson, Nashville

Andre Fowlkes, Memphis

Ann Hatcher, Nashville

Warren Logan, Chattanooga

Chris Mason, Harrman

Greg Persinger, Murfreesboro

Stuart Price, Nashville

Bob Ravener, Brentwood

Yolanda Shields, Spring Hill

Jimmy Williamson, Dyersburg

Sandra Woods, Humboldt

Mayra Zimmer, Nolensville

Statewide Independent Living Council

Nicole Craig, Knoxville

Bob Leonard, Henry

Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations

Tom Bickers, Louisville

Charlie Cardwell, Nashville

Brent Greer, Paris

Iliff McMahan, Parrottsville

Tennessee Advisory Committee for Acupuncture

Charmaine Jamieson, Brentwood

Tennessee Agricultural Hall of Fame Board

Brent Carter, Fayetteville

Rose Ann Donnell, Jackson

Johnny Templin, Cumberland Gap

Tennessee Arts Commission

Cindy Cameron Ogle, Gatlinburg        

Mary Donnett Johnson, Nashville

Hank Dye, Townsend

Tennessee Athletic Commission

Steve Hannah, Brentwood

Donald Wynn, Nashville

Tennessee Auctioneer Commission

Howard Phillips, Knoxville

Tennessee Board of Regents

Tricia Farwell, Murfreesboro

Nick Russell, Chattanooga

Tennessee Career and Technical Education Council

Carlos Hammonds, Johnson City

Verna Ruffin, Jackson

Tennessee Collection Services Board

Steve Harb, Knoxville

Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth

Brenda Davis, Franklin

Jennie Harlan, Columbia

Gary Houston, Union City

Tennessee Community Services Agency Statewide Board of Directors

Shirley Borren, Woodbury

Annette Pulley, Erin

Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustees

Tony Crisp, Maryville

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

Amy Allen, Milan

Rick Davis, Hixson

Tatum Fowler, Knoxville         

Douglass Hall, Memphis

Lisa Johnson, Greeneville

Scott Lillard, Nashville

Karen West, Gallatin

Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation Board of Directors

Cordia Harrington, Nashville

Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission

Martha Ivester, Nashville

Ben Nearn, Memphis

Allison Page, Knoxville

David Porter, Memphis

Tennessee Foreign Language Institute

Francis Canedo, Johnson City

Jason Hernandez, Germantown

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Siri Kadire, Memphis

David Kustoff, Germantown

Tennessee Historical Commission

Sam Elliott, Signal Mountain

Tennessee Medical Laboratory Board

Michael Johnson, White House

Kathleen Kenwright, Cordova

Mick Wright, Bartlett

Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration Review Commission

Ken Gross, Knoxville

Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission

Rita Brockman Baker, Thompson's Station

Mike Hannon, Newport

Carl Jenkins, Knoxville

Bobby Williamson, Dyersburg

Tennessee Real Estate Appraiser Commission

Rosie Johnson, Paris

Mark Johnstone, Jackson

Tennessee Real Estate Commission

Fontaine Taylor, Memphis

Bobby Woods, Mt. Juliet

Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction Board

Christine Bradley, Nashville

Raul Regalado, Nashville

Tennessee Second Look Commission

Patty Tipton, Knoxville

Tennessee State Veterans' Homes Board

Rogers Anderson, Franklin

Andy Black, Knoxville

Robert Caudill, Jackson

Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation

Garrett Wilson, Jackson

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Advisory Council

John Averitt, Cookeville

Ursula Bailey, Knoxville

Patsy Crockett, Huntingdon

Rita McNabb, Newport

Ann Stamps, Crossville

Jack Stewart, Greeneville

Tabi Upton, Chattanooga

Eve Nite, Chattanooga

Timothy Tatum, Ocoee

Anne Young, Knoxville

Tennessee Technology Development Corporation (LaunchTN)

Jack Bailey, Nashville

Dan Eldridge, Jonesborough

Laura Whitsett, Memphis

Thomas Zacharia, Oak Ridge

TPAC Management Corporation Board of Directors

Dale Allen, Nashville

Claire Tucker, Brentwood

TVA Regional Energy Resource Council

Susan Williams, Knoxville

Underground Utility Damage Enforcement Board

Bob Lambert, Etowah

University of Tennessee Board of Trustees

James Murphy III, Nashville

Miranda Rutan, Spring Hill

John Tickle, Bristol

Utility Management Review Board

Tim Pelham, McMinnville

Viticulture Advisory Board

Ned Belt, Blaine

David Lockwood, Knoxville

Rob Ramsey, Smithville

Volunteer Tennessee Commission

Stan Joyner, Jr., Collierville

Lee Moten, Memphis

Water and Wastewater Financing Board

Drexel Heidel, Knoxville

Kenny Wiggins, Alcoa

Water and Wastewater Operators Certification Board

Alan Cranford, Smyrna

Gregg Morgan, Knoxville

West Tennessee River Basin Authority

Harris Armour, Somerville

Oct 16, 2015 1:01 PM

LFM adds biz dev exec

Former BofA Merrill Lynch portfolio manager joins manufacturing investors
Oct 16, 2015 7:07 AM

Neal & Harwell adds associate

VU grad to focus on plaintiff’s rights, medical malpractice
Oct 16, 2015 7:00 AM

Hylant office leader headed to Ohio

Former First Horizon exec joined firm in '11
Oct 15, 2015 2:16 PM

On the Move: 15 October 2015

Gene Ford Music, LifeLinks, Thomas Foundation for Obesity announce updates
Oct 15, 2015 7:00 AM

MPO adds ex-Metro councilman

Westerholm to oversee downtown parking, mobility strategy
Oct 14, 2015 1:18 PM

Airport Authority names VP of communications, external affairs

Former Metro ECD director arrives from Tennessee Lottery
Oct 13, 2015 11:03 AM

Nine apply for Supreme Court seat

Three appeals judges, Gallatin real estate specialist among those looking to fill Wade seat
Oct 12, 2015 2:59 PM