Edesia and Navyn Salem, Co-Founder and Executive Director
… whose exceptional career reflects a life of passion and devotion to the most vulnerable in any society—our children… who has transformed her professional expertise into a sacred mission of feeding the malnourished globally.
"I could not imagine losing one of my daughters to something as simple to solve as malnutrition.” This was what Navyn Salem, Founder and Executive Director of Edesia and mother of four daughters, thought as she toured her father’s homeland of Tanzania and saw other mothers struggling to feed their children. It was at that point that Salem decided to take action, unwilling to believe that nothing could be done to make an impact on the lives of these malnourished, suffering children.
Navyn Salem began doing extensive research and having discussions with leaders in global health issues, looking for the best ways to produce life-saving food and distribute it to children. It is particularly important to treat malnutrition in those children who are 6 to 24 months old, as that is the most crucial time for them not only in terms of survival, but of ensuring their ability to properly develop both physically and intellectually. Armed with this information, Salem started a business in 2007 in Tanzania called Power Foods, which produces nutritious food and provides jobs to help Tanzania’s economy. Power Foods is now able to provide for their country’s needs and is looking to export their products. With this success, Navyn Salem founded Edesia in Rhode Island three years later.
Named for the Roman goddess Edesia, who presided over banquets, her presence guaranteeing that the food would be delicious and well-prepared, Edesia manufactures nutritious food for severely malnourished children in developing countries. Its mission is to “treat and prevent malnutrition for the most vulnerable children in the developing world.” It is part of the PlumpyField Network (run by the company Nutriset), a group of partners working toward solving the issue of malnutrition by producing food products to combat the problem. Edesia currently makes four of the foods—Plumpy’Nut, Plumpy’Sup, Plumpy’Doz, and Nutributter. These products are known as ready-to-use foods, or RUFs—high-quality foods that have a long shelf life (usually up to two years), need no refrigeration, and require no mixing. These points are key as refrigeration and clean water are often not readily available in developing countries, where the most severe and widespread instances of malnutrition are found. PlumpyField products can be given to children at home, and in as little as four weeks a malnourished child’s life can be completely turned around. Edesia’s products are distributed to various humanitarian and nonprofit organizations, and they are continually researching better nutrition solutions and ways to distribute their life-saving foods, including supporting factories in developing countries that are also producing RUFs.
Since 2010, Navyn Salem and Edesia have provided food to hundreds of thousands of children in over 26 countries. They have advocated for greater awareness of this global problem in the hope of one day not just treating but eradicating the problem of malnutrition altogether.