Theory in action
In 2021, with support from The United States Agency for International Development, Project Last Mile launched a new initiative to identify and assist social enterprises in developing market-based approaches to improve the availability of family planning products across Africa. Two social enterprises, Healthy Entrepreneurs and Total Family Health Organization, are receiving technical advisory, coaching, and mentoring support to design tailored solutions to expand the reach of contraceptives and other essential health products based on global best practices adopted by The Coca-Cola Company and its bottler partners in Africa.
Healthy Entrepreneurs provide basic healthcare where no one else will go through training men and women as community health entrepreneurs. Each entrepreneur is taught about health and business, the products available, and how to educate and advise their customers. More than 8,000 entrepreneurs reach more than 10 million people through this model every year. Healthy Entrepreneurs currently has operations in several markets, including Uganda and Kenya.
As part of its support for Healthy Entrepreneurs, Project Last Mile organized a field visit led by a team from Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda. The field visit aimed to demonstrate real-world applications of some recommendations and solutions shared during the partnership. As part of the field visit, the Healthy Entrepreneurs team had the opportunity to learn about route settlement and product promotion best practices – two critical aspects of the enterprise’s current operating model.
Much of Healthy Entrepreneurs’ work focuses on last mile medicine and healthcare access. By observing Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda’s approach to distribution, the Healthy Entrepreneurs team was able to gain knowledge, experience, and planning insights to support its work in last mile distribution of healthcare commodities, training, and services.
Insights from multiple distribution points
The field visit began with a session at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda, presenting the Company’s approaches to last mile distribution, operations, and sales. This was followed by visits to distribution partner outlets in Kampala, where the Healthy Entrepreneurs team had the opportunity to see how Coca-Cola Beverages Africa distributors in Uganda navigate stock management and planning and performance monitoring. The participants also visited several retailers to understand their experience of receiving stock through the distribution model before selling it to consumers.
“The Project Last Mile health innovator program offers great value for Healthy Entrepreneurs because we’d like to further improve the way we are operating as a professional organization using knowledge and experience from Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda’s years and years of distributing,” says Joost van Engen, Founder and Country Director from Healthy Entrepreneurs.
One of the stand-out learnings for Healthy Entrepreneurs was the division of roles and responsibilities between the distribution management and the sales teams. The experience also provided an opportunity for the visitors to gain increased insight into the different benefits and challenges in centralized and decentralized distribution models. This, along with the automated visibility across the entire process, provided valuable tools and learnings for the Health Entrepreneurs team to build on its work in the healthcare supply chain.
Charles Kazooba, National Route to Market Manager from Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda says, “This opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise allowed us to showcase the ‘real magic’ behind our work and the reach into the communities. We believe the ‘real magic’ happens when we come together and find connections with people. That’s what we did; we spent a day looking at our systems, processes, and people. We hope that their visit helped bring some life to the recommendations and solutions that Project Last Mile has developed with Healthy Entrepreneurs.”
Future focus areas for the project with Healthy Entrepreneurs will build on the insights and experiences from the field visit to put the lessons they have learned from the Coca-Cola system into practice within their operating processes and systems.
This initiative is funded and supported by USAID. Technical support for this initiative was provided by Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.
About Project Last Mile
Project Last Mile is pioneering a scalable model for health systems strengthening through transferring the business and technical expertise of the Coca-Cola system to ministries of health. This multi-sector partnership represents a global alliance between PEPFAR, USAID, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, and The Coca-Cola Foundation. Project Last Mile has delivered 31 projects in 12 African countries.
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