Prioritizing nutrition in impact investing themes to increase the availability and affordability of healthy, safe and nutritious food.


Impact investing is a practice that combines financial returns with positive social and environmental outcomes, has gained traction in emerging markets in recent years. Agri-food small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are estimated to grow and process more than half of the food consumed worldwide. They have the potential to drive positive change and transform current food systems.

However, SMEs are frequently too small for formal finance and too large for micro finance, and often fall in the ‘missing middle’.  They find it difficult accessing and mobilizing financing and often face the challenge of tailoring their practices to meet the different investment theses of finance providers. Similarly, investors and financial institutes struggle to identify investment-ready SMEs in full alignment with their mission and investment themes. Further, nutrition as a specific theme is often missing in investment theses.  ATNI recently screened 120 impact funds, 31 of which are active in Tanzania, 36 actives in Uganda, and 22 which had no country or region specified in the African continent.

In addition, over the reporting period, ATNI served as an advisor to the Transformational Investing in Food Systems (TIFS) project which screened 23 impact funds investing in the agri-food sector.


Looking at the impact funds screened, health and nutrition emerged as the main gap among the impact themes. While further research is needed, underinvestment in health appears to be linked to at least three overarching issues:

  • the externalities of malnutrition are still not properly costed;
  • nutrition metrics are not fully developed for impact investing and those that do exist are not harmonized nor specific to emerging markets; and
  • knowledge and awareness of nutrition and its importance is systematically lacking by investors and SMEs.
  • The investment theses for agriculture and food rarely look at nutrition.

Redirecting finance toward Agri-SMEs working in nutrition sensitive value chains would address the financing gap and have positive impact on public health and food security challenges faced in emerging markets.

Thus, it is essential to incorporate nutrition and nutritious food systems into the impact investing framework.


The project objective is to identify ways to ensure nutrition is seen by funders as a core element in impact investing strategies, emphasizing its significance in achieving positive social (health) outcomes.


Goal 1: Define process to standardize Nutrition Metrics for Impact Investors for ESG Reporting in emerging markets:

  • Collaborate with existing organizations working on this topic and make use of existing frameworks to create a standardized set of nutrition metrics tailored for impact investors, facilitating the measurement and reporting of nutrition-related impact.

Goal 2: Ensure Common Understanding of Nutrition Terminology:

  • Promote alignment on terminology related to nutrition and nutritious foods within the impact investing community to establish a shared language and avoid confusion.


Goal 3: Present the Business Case for Nutrition investments for donors/funders:

  • Provide a comprehensive rationale for investing in nutrition, highlighting the current challenges in emerging markets.


Integrating nutrition into impact investing and ESG reporting and allocation of finance for nutrition is crucial for driving meaningful change and addressing global nutrition challenges. This concept note serves as a roadmap to achieve our goals and objectives in this endeavour. By fostering collaboration among key stakeholders to standardise nutrition metrics and advance investments for nutritious food production, we seek to redirect financial resources towards nutrition-sensitive Agri-SMEs and, in turn, enhance health outcomes.

On December 7th, ATNI hosted a multi-stakeholder hybrid event focused on “Allocating Impact Investment for Nutrition in Emerging Markets” convened in partnership with iGravity.

During the event ATNI brought together diverse voices from stakeholders with expertise on the topic such as donors/ funders, impact investors, Agri-SMEs, NGOs, health professionals and more.

To watch the recording from the event click the button below:


Watch the event recording

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