José Ignacio Avalos Hernández

Organization: 
Un Kilo de Ayuda
Year founded: 
1984
Country: 
Mexico

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Un Kilo de Ayuda fights malnutrition among children under the age of five, in hundreds of communities throughout Mexico.

Focus: Nutrition, Rural Supply, Social Development, Microfinance, Impact Investing
Geographic Area of Impact: Latin America
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 225,000 (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 25 million (2011)
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

Background
Mexico is firmly established as a middle-income country, albeit with huge gaps between rich and poor, and urban and rural populations. Deep poverty persists among the indigenous population in many states of the country, mainly in the south-eastern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero. However, even in villages near Mexico City it is not uncommon to find the majority of villagers subsisting on less than US$ 2 per day. After the 1994-95 peso crisis, access to credit became difficult for most small and medium enterprises and impossible for the rural poor. In 1995, although Mexico had the highest GNP per capita in Latin America, the prevalence of malnutrition in children less than five years of age was significantly higher than in Brazil, Venezuela or even Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in the region. Un Kilo de Ayuda plays an important role in lowering the rate of malnutrition in many communities throughout the country.

Innovation and Activities
Un Kilo de Ayuda (One Kilo of Help) was set up to fight malnutrition among children under five years of age as well as pregnant mothers. The organization methodology consists of six main components: nutritional surveillance; anaemia detection; nutrition education; nutritional package distribution; neurodevelopment and early stimulation evaluation; and safe water. It applies these actions to 55,000 children in rural Mexico every two weeks.

Un Kilo de Ayuda gathers information on each child they serve with an online epidemiological system called INFOKILO, to track progress and make intervention recommendations. Children served by the programme have shown an annual weight increase of 5-8%, and a decrease of 1.5-3% for those suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition.

Un Kilo de Ayuda has successfully enrolled governments in funding the programme and implementing the holistic and integrated approach in their specific programmes. It has confirmed the relevance early stimulation has on the neurodevelopment of the brain in comparison to food. This refocuses the health agenda on the importance of nutrition, in that intelligence is more critical than height, for example.

Eradicating child under-nourishment in Mexico is Un Kilo de Ayuda’s goal. In addition to a strong nutrition programme, it enjoys impressive community support and participation; the majority of its personnel are volunteers.

The Entrepreneur
At age 22, José Ignacio Avalos Hernández started a youth movement for human values called Gente Nueva, at a time when civil society organizations were regarded as highly suspicious in Mexico. Since then he has founded or inspired the establishment of many organizations based upon improving individual capacities, opportunity access for the poor and infrastructure building. Some of those organizations include: COFAS, a self-sustaining healthcare system providing high-quality healthcare to Mexico’s rural poor; Compartamos Banco, the fastest growing and largest microfinance institution in Latin America serving 2.5 million people; and Mi Tienda (social business), which supplies 6,000 small, rural shops with products at lower prices and quantities than traditional wholesalers.