Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Ady Beitler, co-founder and CEO of Nilus. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: It’s wonderful to meet you, Ady. I’m curious about the challenges Nilus is addressing. What can you tell me?
Ady: It’s great to be here, Spiffy! There are over two billion low-income people in the world who lack reliable access to basic products, such as healthy food and hygiene products. Yet, because of inefficiencies in the food supply chain, such as excessive intermediation and informality, basic products in low-income neighborhoods are at least 25% more expensive than in middle-income areas. That's why economists call them food deserts.
Spiffy: That’s a great problem to solve! What motivates you to do it?
Ady: In 2010, I began working in Haiti after the country was hit with one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history, and I noticed that groceries in Port-au-Prince were more expensive than in my hometown, Washington, DC. I analyzed the problem in depth and discovered that there is a premium that low-income people pay for groceries all over the world when they live in areas known as food deserts—i.e., areas where large supermarkets don't operate and the offer of healthy food is very limited. Being poor is more expensive than being rich. That is unfair and I want to change it.
Spiffy: More strength to you! What is the impact of your work?
Ady: Nilus develops technology to procure food and groceries directly from producers, and distributes them among low-income people who live in food deserts through community group buying networks led by women, who consolidate individual orders to access volume discounts. The company offers products at 80% or fewer of their market price to families and community kitchens in food deserts.
Spiffy: That’s amazing! Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?
Ady: As of August 2023, Nilus had fulfilled over 165,000 orders, served over 540,000 low-income people to whom it represented 23% in average savings, and provided a valuable source of income to over 3,000 women who act or acted as our community leaders and receive a 10% commission on every sale the company makes. Nilus has also saved over 7,500 tons of carbon dioxide and prevented the wastage of 597,000 cubic meters of water, thanks to the 3.3 million tons of food that it rescued and prevented from being wasted.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Ady—it’s been an honor!
Ady Beitler is the co-founder and CEO of Nilus. Ady has a law degree from Harvard Law School and over ten years of experience at the Inter-American Development Bank designing and leading impact-driven technology projects, such as ConnectAmericas.com. Ady was awarded the Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2023 by the Schwab Foundation at the World Economic Forum. (First published on the Ladderworks website on September 26, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.