Project Everest

Customer Segment

[CUSTOMER SEGMENT]: Hidden Hunger Malawi - Rural Malawian Mothers and Business to Business - February 2019

Customer Segment A: Rural Malawian Mothers


Hidden Hunger teams throughout December 2018 to February 2019 have been surveying and analysing information collected from Rural Malawian Mothers regarding their stresses and concerns with malnutrition. These teams have achieved an extensive understanding of their thoughts, actions and desires relating to this problem. Through surveying and feedback collection, Hidden Hunger have been able to develop a foundation of the key characteristics of this customer segment and how our solution can be adapted in order to best serve them.  


Food has a large and important role within households in Blantyre, Malawi. Not only in a way that provides sustenance, but also as a cultural experience. Mothers in Malawi are usually entrusted with the role of collecting and supplying meals for the family, and so have a massive influence on what the family eats. This is where the stress of finding good quality and healthy food starts for these mothers. Not only are these foods fairly difficult to get a hold of, but the Hidden Hunger teams have found that a large majority also lack the knowledge, and the means to access knowledge, in order to provide a nutritionally dense meal. The key purpose of the December to February Hidden Hunger teams is to understand the interrelation of external factors facing Rural Malawian Mothers and their internal choices that contextualise and impact how and why food gets from the farm to their tables.

Understanding of Nutrition:

Through empathising with local communities while working in the field and surveying, the Hidden Hunger teams were able to capture how nutrition is understood and implemented by rural mothers. Analysing the information collected during the currency and utility test surveys, the team came to the conclusion that Rural Malawian Mothers have a lower understanding of nutrition than previously thought. The utility test survey included a question, posed to these mothers, asking how much they felt they understood nutrition. Of the 33 people surveyed, 58% recognized that they had either no or very limited understanding of nutrition, 15% recognized an intermediate understanding and 27% recognized a good to strong understanding. During currency testing, although no data was gathered, the team constantly shared stories of mothers they had talked to who expressed they did not know what nutrition was and were very eager to learn through the reports. However, despite this lack of knowledge, the greatest threat to combating malnutrition still lies within accessing nutritionally dense foods.

 External Factors Facing Rural Malawian Mothers:

Price is one of the key factors that is affecting Rural Malawian Mothers from being able to access good quality nutritional food. Some mothers the team have encountered, who are actively looking for a solution to combat malnutrition, often complain not only of the high price of food, but also the general fluctuation of food prices in Malawi.

The high price of foods has forced these mothers to seek out multiple income streams. Those household that were able to expand their budgets were able to purchase a greater variety of foods. It has been witnessed that these mothers place a high priority on access money in multiple ways in order to free up spending on essentials like a nutritional diet.

Accessibility also plays a role in driving up the price of good quality foods. Many foods in the area are affected by the extreme seasons that face Malawi and make growing different types of crops difficult. This is also affected by the lack of arable land in Malawi, again making it difficult to grow a range of foods, thus making them more expensive.

It should also be noted that some of the foods that are seen as nutritionally lacking are cultural staples in the Malawian diet and will always be eaten regardless of nutrition.

 Food Preparation Behaviours of Rural Malawian Mothers:

Mothers usually have a choice in how they access and collect food for their families. Most are able to access markets or independent sellers, and some are even able to grow their own foods. In all instances, the choice of which foods to buy or grow usually comes down to price and accessibility. During currency testing and using the application with some of the Rural Malawian Mothers, it was found that many were eating a varied range of vegetables. However, it has been expressed that the price of food was the biggest distinguisher in what the family would be eating.

Another factor contributing to what foods mothers decide to obtain is education. The lack of education in nutrition disabled these women from being able to make informed and secure choices when it comes to nutritionally dense foods. Again, currency testing highlighted that this knowledge was very limited. However, when the teams delivered the nutritional reports back to these women, one of the most common questions asked was how they were supposed to afford these types of foods.


Mothers experience a high level of pressure and anxiety in trying to meet household demand of securing a sufficient amount of food. This usually leads to mothers sacrificing a nutritionally dense diet with food that is cheap and is able to bulk feed the family. These choices are ones that induce a lot of stress, and often require these women to make very hard decisions about what to feed their families and how to keep them healthy.

While these mothers lacked a good understanding of nutrition and what foods need to be eaten, the Hidden Hunger teams often experienced a very strong desire to learn more about how to keep their families healthy. When the team returned with the reports, they would spend up to an hour with these mothers, reading and explaining the report to them and answering all the questions they had. This was also experienced when the teams returned to collect feedback about the service and how the women found the reports. Many kept their reports in plastic sleeves in order to protect them and had even more questions and feedback about the report and the knowledge they had received.

Frustration was also a strong emotion expressed by Rural Malawian Mothers. This was an emotion that encompassed all of the blocks these women were facing. They expressed frustration at not being able to afford or access these foods, about having little to no knowledge about nutrition, and at the bigger systematic blocks, such as lack of support from government and non-government organisations.


Rural Malawian Mothers are a strong customer segment that are actively trying to overcome blocks and find a solution in combating malnutrition in their children. The drive these women have to learn more and be able to access a healthier diet is unparalleled. The currency test highlighted this as 77% of women (and some men) who were surveyed exchanged their hard-earned money upfront for a nutritional report. This was an outstanding result, which becomes even more cemented when considering that the only objection was a lack of money, and the teams were asked to return another day. Not only is this a strong and passionate customer segment, but it further clarifies the extent of the problem and how much pain it is causing. The Hidden Hunger project is thankful to the women who agreed to contribute and are humbled by their selfless conviction in such adversity to improve both their and their family’s nutrition.


CUSTOMER SEGMENT B: Business to Business


This customer segment includes all of the businesses and key partners with whom Hidden Hunger interact with. All of these influencers have different roles and opinions in the project and thus are able to help align the solution to the Malawian context. Hidden Hunger have interacted with this customer segment through emailing, calling and through various meetings. There has been a lot of interest garnered from these stakeholders and lots of different feedback collected in order to pass onto Western Sydney University.

 Project Reception:

Both stakeholders have expressed serious interest in the Hidden Hunger project. In every meeting, these businesses have made it clear that they would like to be kept in the loop of the project and be updated on developments and changes in direction. The team have received positive feedback from these meetings, discovering that the USTAWI app solution is able to fill some of the holes that are found in the NGO nutrition sphere. The app has the potential to be able to provide education and accessibility on a faster and more personal level and is an effective way of providing fast and reliable support to people who are affected by the problem of malnutrition.

 Common Feedback:

Throughout December, January and February, the Hidden Hunger teams have conducted two out of five interviews with parties who have expressed interest in the app solution. These stakeholders have given the team very valuable feedback in which we have been able to pass onto Western Sydney University.

 Contact Department of Nutrition:

Both stakeholders the February team were able to conduct meetings with expressed the need for the Hidden Hunger project to get in contact with the Department of Nutrition. The reasoning behind this urgency relates to these stakeholders being able to use the USTAWI application in their own procedures. Hidden Hunger were told that this relationship needs to be established as quick as possible as it is a lot easier to get the Department on board in the early stages to ensure the application will be approved. Both stakeholders also expressed that the Department of Nutrition will be a valuable source to rely on for content that should make up the nutrition reports.

 Reaching Further Rural Communities:

One of the stakeholders expressed the need for Hidden Hunger to penetrate more rural communities than Limbe. This stakeholder considered Limbe to still be quite urban and expressed that reaching communities further out from city centers will likely generate different results than what Hidden Hunger have been receiving. This may be a problem that the project runs into further down the track, specifically when trying to release the app to a larger population in Malawi, and it doesn’t work for them.

 Stakeholder Use of the Application:

Both stakeholders were interested in how they would use the USTAWI application in their own projects within the nutrition space. One stakeholder specifically requested an admin function in the application that would allow them to track the eating behaviours of communities in which they have worked. These stakeholders are interested in how the app can track and analyse data which they use to strengthen their projects. This app will also encourage accountability in communities and be a tool that can support healthy eating habits.


edited on 26th February 2019, 21:02 by Charlotte Crofts

Lucy Noble Feb 25, 2019

Status label added: Customer Segment

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