Nilus: A Hidden Gem

Golden Arches

Our food has an incredibly important, yet often understated, effect on our day-to-day lives. What we eat directly impacts how we think, how we feel, how productive we are, how capable we are, etc.

When driving through low-income areas, it is glaringly obvious how different the food options are as opposed to wealthier neighborhoods a few blocks over. McDonalds, Burger King, and other unhealthy fast food can be found on every corner. Nutritious food also costs a pretty penny at the grocery store. On top of that, lower income adults are more likely to work more than one job, giving them less time to cook nutritious meals. Over time, this habit becomes more expensive and has both a negative socioeconomic effect, as well as a damaging health effect. Medical bills pile up earlier, kids’ development is hurt, productivity and capability are weakened, the downsides go on and on.

It’s safe to say, there is a huge problem, and communities around the world are feeling it.


Introducing Nilus

It’s always exciting to discover startups with a triple bottom line. One such is Nilus, an Argentinian company focused on making healthy food more accessible to low-income communities. Founded in 2018 by Ady Beitler, Karina Campos, and Nicolas Manes, Nilus aims to lower the cost of living for impoverished citizens by organizing community buying networks and offering perfectly edible food that was about to be discarded. They boast a diverse and exciting founding team, with backgrounds in law, management, and social entrepreneurship.

Nilus's unique approach to addressing food insecurity involves leveraging technology, food rescue, and community group buying. By connecting community leaders who act as sales representatives, Nilus helps create prosperity for communities by lowering their cost of living and making a healthy diet accessible. This focus on community involvement and empowerment sets Nilus apart from other food distribution platforms.

Their model involves a community leader buying in bulk, and then receiving commission upon distribution. For the buyer, they receive nutritious food at a discount. This creates mini marketplaces within different neighborhoods.


The Market

The market potential for Nilus is significant, given the alarming rates of food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to a UN report, 131 million people in the region cannot access a healthy diet. Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean rose by 13.8 million people in just one year, reaching 59.7 million people, its highest point since 2000. The prevalence of hunger in the region now stands at 9.1 percent, the highest in the last 15 years. Additionally, food insecurity affects a staggering 267 million people in the region. These figures highlight the urgent need for innovative solutions like Nilus. With their focus on providing affordable and healthy food options to low-income communities, Nilus can address the pressing issue of hunger and improve access to nutritious meals.

Moreover, the market potential extends beyond Latin America and the Caribbean. Global food insecurity is a growing concern, as the prevalence of it is expected to increase in Asia and North Africa as well. This presents an opportunity for Nilus to expand its operations and make a difference in other regions facing similar challenges. Considering the alarming rates of food insecurity and the increasing demand for innovative solutions, Nilus is well-positioned to tap into a substantial market. With their unique approach and focus on community empowerment, Nilus has the potential to become a leader in the fight against food insecurity, not only in Latin America and the Caribbean but also globally.


Healthy Competition

There is a long list of competitors that provide similar services. Domestic companies like Everytable, Food Shift, and Fresh Truck also use would-be food waste to provide nutrition to impoverished communities. However, Nilus’s use of community leaders enables the company to scale its marketplace much faster without spreading too thin. Their global vision and sustainable business model exceeds the potential of its competition.


How’d we get Here?

Nilus has raised $140,000 in funding and recently secured an additional $8.6 million in a seed funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with support from Better Tomorrow Ventures, Symbol, and private investors. The company plans to use the funds to onboard and support more US customers and to further develop its platform. As the company continues to expand, it is sure to catch the eye of Venture Capitalists globally.


My Thoughts

Experts will continue to debate how to tackle food insecurity, and new ideas will continue to be shared. However, the idea of a community-led marketplace is feasible, adaptable, and has plenty of unintended benefits that come with it. Much like what happens when community gardens are instated, what Nilus is doing has the potential to lower crime rates, empower impoverished citizens, and bring neighborhoods together. The idea seems sticky and I am very optimistic about their future.