1970 - B.Tech - Chemical Engineering President @ Micronutrient Initiative, Ottawa
Shri M. G. Venkatesh Mannar, President, Micronutrient Initiative (MI), Ottawa, Canada graduated from IIT Madras in 1970 with a B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering, and later completed a Master’s degree from Northwestern University. In 1972, he returned to India to join his father and establish a large solar salt operation near Mamallapuram. While running the salt works, he became actively involved in developing technology for fortification of salt with essential nutrients such as calcium, iron and iodine. He was invited by various UN agencies to assist with a global program to correct dietary deficiencies through fortification of salt and other staple foods. During this period, he conducted situation assessments and advised governments to plan micronutrient fortification programs in over 40 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Finding his work in micronutrients more challenging and life enriching, Venkatesh decided to devote his time entirely to this area. In 1990, he sold his salt company and relocated to Canada. He then worked as a consultant to UNICEF in planning their salt iodization programs, and led the global thrust to address Iodine Deficiency Disorders through mandatory iodization of salt. Nearly 4 billion people now have access to iodized salt. He extended his work to include fortification of a wide range of staple foods and condiments with vitamins and minerals, and targeted provision of vitamins and minerals to severely-malnourished children and women.
Venkatesh is now recognized as a leader in global health with 35 years of experience in pioneering effective nutrition and development initiatives focusing on the world’s most vulnerable citizens. He has been the Head of MI, an international non-profit nutrition organization since its inception in 1994 – working to enable access to essential micronutrients for the common man through the regular diet, and ensuring the impact of these interventions in more than 75 countries. MI, starting with 4 employees, has now become the global leader in nutrition development programs with more than 100 full-time staff, 120 full-time consultants, 2 regional offices, 11 country offices and a budget of USD 38 million per year. In his role as President of MI, Venkatesh regularly interacts with and advises national leaders and policy makers to develop policies, strategies and plans for their countries. His efforts through the MI to provide essential vitamin and mineral supplements to children and women, iodize salt and fortify staple foods are saving children’s lives and improving livelihoods of over 500 million people in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
He has been invited to join the Boards of several global organizations, including the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders and Flour Fortification Initiative. In addition, he serves as a member on the scientific advisory boards of some of the largest food companies in the world, such as Nestle and Pepsico. In 2010, Venkatesh was awarded the Tech Award in Health by Nokia for the contributions he has made to develop technology for the double-fortification of salt with iron and iodine. Earlier, he was recognized as the third most influential citizen in Ottawa by Ottawa Life Magazine in the year 2009.
In recognition of Shri Venkatesh Mannar’s outstanding contributions to the global effort to stem micronutrient deficiency, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer on him this award.