The Micronutrient Initiative (renamed Nutrient International) is an Ottawa-based foundation whose purpose is “to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable – especially women and children – in developing countries get the vitamins and minerals they need to survive and thrive.” Micronutrient International (MI) supports programs that reach over 500 million people globally in over 70 countries. MI supports over 80% of the world’s vitamin A supply. In addition, in 2015, MI contributed to 328 million people gaining access to adequately iodized salt, 2.4 million pregnant women receiving iron-folic acid supplements, 21 million children receiving recommended oral rehydration solution plus zinc, and 235,000 community health workers being trained on nutrition-related issues.


Under new WHA and SDG goals and increasing focus on multi-approaches to nutrition, MI must make critical choices on where it wishes to position itself on the global nutrition stage. Traditionally, MI has been best recognized for its work on addressing key micronutrient deficiencies and is well regarded for partnering with local governments. Looking forward, MI must decide how it wishes to focus its resources and how it can make the greatest impact in scaling up nutritional interventions for the world’s most vulnerable populations.


Pharos conducted a formative evaluation to support MI in its upcoming strategic planning cycle. Pharos employed “Choice Structuring,” a specialized technique originally developed by Procter & Gamble, to carefully evaluate the main set of strategic options, and arrive at objective recommendations for optimizing the strategic choices. Pharos combined Choice Structuring with our expertise working in nutrition to generate informed and sound recommendations for MI’s next 5 years.

The Pharos team employed a three phase methodology for this project.

Phase 1 (September 2016-October 2016): Through semi-structured key informant interviews, review of internal documents, and leading a choice structuring workshop with MI executive leadership, Pharos guided MI in establishing a comprehensive set of strategic options. With the help of MI executive leadership, Pharos also identified key conditions that would allow MI to decide which options to pursue based on feasibility, impact, and risks.

Phase 2 (October 2016-December 2016): Pharos developed a research agenda that would guide the generation of evidence for these key conditions. This research agenda relied on qualitative interviews, including over 80 internal and external stakeholders in total. In addition, supplemental quantitative analysis was used when possible, including RFP market assessment, basic impact modeling, review of best practices and case studies, and technical expertise mapping. Using this evidence-base to rule out certain options and determine the appropriate blend of the remaining options, recommendations on a strategic direction have been submitted to MI.

Phase 3 (January 2017-February 2017): With the support of MI operational departments and leadership, Pharos developed a high-level implementation roadmap for implementing the final recommendations.


MI can significantly contribute to improving the nutritional status of children and mothers around the world. This project has supported MI to critically evaluate its strategic options, and maximize its resources to achieve the greatest impact possible.

Status: Complete

Team Members Involved: Robert Hecht, Marc Herant, Shan Soe-Lin, Lindsey Hiebert, Rachel Wilkinson, Jim Levinson, and Jessica Blankenship.

For more information, contact us at [email protected].

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