Moldovan apples’ dilemma solved through innovation

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Kids in Moldova consume only 2/3 of the minimum recommended by WHO quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, Moldova is one of the largest apples producers in the region.

Past experiences show that kids prefer easy to consume sliced produce, like the snacks and fruit salads, in an attractive packaging. Such products are lacking on the market, but have great potential to be explored, as this is a fast-growing market niche. On the other hand, local producers face difficulties in selling and exporting their products both on domestic and foreign markets. This is particularly the case in years of overproduction and poor quality of harvesting due to unsatisfactory weather or other conditions. Developing a new market niche with support of UNDP, namely the fresh fruit snacks, is an interesting alternative for producers to get new profits. The challenge is therefore how to increase fresh fruits intake by kids via connecting private sector to innovative solutions to schools and kids.  

Against such challenge UNDP Moldova launched a project to increase consumption benefiting kids and private sector. Key components of the project are:

- Support to producers of fruits to develop the new product – i.e. fresh fruit snacks, starting with apple snacks

- Support interested public schools and kindergartens to benefit from such project

- Engage with the community and private sector to mobilize funds

As part of this project, we launched a crowdfunding initiative to mobilize funds to cover about 2,000 kids and deliver, free-of-charge, fresh fruit snacks, attractive and convenient solution for kids.

The key lessons learned during our crowdfunding intervention:

- Engagement with private sector is challenging because companies often need and extra hand for vision, knowledge, access to technology or funds, trust or a mix of those. For this UNDP tested the Moldova Innovation Challenge Fund (MICS) and the results of engagement and promotion of innovative projects are very encouraging. MICS is the proved very practical and functional mechanism to engage with fresh fruit producers and processors whereby the innovative solution to our challenge is sourced directly from private sector. Contact us if you want to test it for other similar challenges.

- UNDP has an interesting position for conducting crowd-funding and –sourcing. It is recognized as a trustworthy partner for its capabilities, expertise, transparency, and brand. So trust and impeccable reputation are key.

-  Crowdfunding is more than just a tool to engage and gather funds. It is in fact a validation mechanism. If a crowdfunding campaign is successful it means that people validate and share their validation sentiment with other peers.

-  Solving a challenge of the kind is an endeavor that requires a strong, skilled and highly motivated team. No team, no results!

First results are promising. In 5 weeks of the campaign, through online and offline channels, UNDP Moldova and its key partners managed to raise 90% of the required funds to launch the project in the five selected public schools. And this is just the start.

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