Founded in 2012, Fortify incorporated after incubation in the prestigious Social New Venture Competition at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
The impetus for starting Fortify came after the organization’s founder and CEO, Nancy K. Martin, conducted research as a graduate student at the University of Chicago’s Harris school of Public Policy. She analyzed data on the variables affecting maternal health in developing regions of the world and the existing interventions. The research revealed four important facts: 1) Iron deficiency anemia is the largest public health disorder in the world 2) More women die from causes related to iron deficiency anemia during childbirth than any other cause 3) Existing fortified foods, primarily flours and cooking oil, rarely reached the most malnourished living in rural areas, and 4) Humanitarian nutritional interventions were targeted at children, not women.
In January 2012, Ms. Martin assembled a team of business and policy graduate students to work with her and to compete in Chicago Booth’s Social New Venture Challenge. The FeMME team won seed funding and an invitation to participate in the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurships Accelerator Program. Later that year FeMME became Fortify, a 501(c)(3). In 2014, Fortify was selected as a semifinalist in the Ashoka Changemakers Nutrients for All Competition. In 2016, Ms. Martin was selected to participate in the 7th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) hosted by President Obama. In 2019, Ms. Martin was invited to participate in a high-level meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, to define joint actions between government and business to transform the landscape for food and nutrition in advance of the 2020 Global Nutrition Summit in Japan.