Alumni award Africa - IMD Business School
News Stories · Leadership - Start-up

IMD alum honored for work to reduce malnutrition in East Africa 

February 2023

Darshana Joshi (MBA 2014) has been recognized with an Influential Leaders award for her work with SME’s and startups to increase access to nutritious foods in underserved communities in East Africa.

Darshana Joshi’s time at IMD honed her business, strategic, and entrepreneurial skills in a way that allowed her to create social impact and reduce food inequity for some of the most vulnerable populations in East Africa. 

Nominated by IMD for her commitment to driving positive change, Joshi is one of two-dozen business school graduates honored in the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) 2023 Class of Influential Leaders. 

Having worked with consumer goods companies across Asia, Europe, and Africa, Joshi decided to move to Rwanda to help establish Africa Improved Foods (AIF), a private-public partnership between the government of Rwanda and private and public-sector partners. AIF produces nutritious relief foods for refugee camps while supporting private-sector development and capacity-building in the region in East Africa and is located in Rwanda. 

The East Africa countries of Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi have some of the highest malnutrition and stunting rates in the world. Research has shown that stunting has long-term effects on individuals and societies, including poor cognition and educational performance, low adult wages, lost productivity, and an increased risk of nutrition-related chronic disease.  

In her recent roles, Joshi has worked to address the inequities compounded by a lack of access to nutritious food by improving food systems and increasing access to nutritional products for undernourished people. 

She is Director of Food Systems for the Future Institute focused on providing growth capital to businesses operating within the food system with a view to improving access to affordable and nutritious foods. She is also Rwanda lead for the Rockefeller Foundation’s PP4N (Power of Procurement for Nutirtion) initiative, which aims to increase access to healthy diets by maximizing the nutritional value of meals served in schools and other institutional settings through the fortified wholegrain initiative.  

In the past she has supported the setting up of Lentera Ltd, an East Africa agricultural technology startup that uses satellite imaging and precision agriculture to increase the efficiency of the East Africa agricultural value chain, and is a board member and investor at Benefactors, which connects impact funds with small to medium-sized enterprises. 

Her next project is to create Rwanda’s first insect protein factory in a joint initiative between the FSF Institute and the Rwandan government. At the early stages of development, the project promises to be an innovative local solution to the gaps in international food systems and underserved communities getting access to affordable animal source protein. 

Joshi strongly believes that it is incumbent upon business leaders to use their relevant expertise, knowledge, and resources to identify projects that bring about broader societal change in their communities. For her dynamism and resourceful approach to everything she does, IMD recognized Joshi with an IMD-elea Social Impact Recognition Award in 2020. 

Read more about Darshana here.