Project Last Mile believes life-saving medicines and health services should be in reach of every person in Africa. Our pioneering cross-sector partnership has been developed over years between organizations that share this belief, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation. Together, our goal is to improve the availability of life-saving medicines and the uptake of health services in Africa.
One of the questions we often get asked is “Why The Coca-Cola Company?”
The answer goes back to 2009, when The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Global Fund initially approached The Coca-Cola Company to help protect their investment in medicines and vaccines in Africa. They had audited their investments and discovered substantial bottlenecks in the supply chain and distribution of life-saving medicines. They asked The Coca-Cola Company to consider sharing its system and network and applying its knowledge and expertise with the public health sector in Tanzania. That marked the start of what would grow to become Project Last Mile.
The role of The Coca-Cola Company within Project Last Mile
The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company. Coca-Cola is the most popular and biggest-selling soft drink in history, as well as the best-known brand in the world. It achieves its reach and demand through proven supply chain and strategic marketing practices.
Project Last Mile leverages these strengths to support capacity building in public health systems in Africa.
The Coca-Cola Company’s pervasive footprint across Sub-Saharan Africa is made possible by the commitment, passion and hard work of The Coca-Cola Company’s system of bottling partners who manufacture, sell and distribute their products. It is to their credit that Coca-Cola products are available ‘within an arm’s reach of desire’ to consumers everywhere, including in the most remote parts of the continent.
There are more than 55 bottling partners in sub-Saharan Africa alone, and The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners (the Coca-Cola system) in Africa have more than 70,000 employees, making the Coca-Cola system one of the largest private sector employers of labor on the continent.
Project Last Mile has developed unique Intellectual Property (IP) built on the foundation of The Coca-Cola Company’s business success in Africa, donor leadership and collaboration, the insight and experience of strong local talent and public health experience to support African governments to build supply chain and strategic marketing capability.
Unparalleled access to The Coca-Cola system networks, bottlers and intellectual property allow Project Last Mile to:
- Benchmark public health systems against proven Coca-Cola Company solutions, networks and subject matter experts to their local market
- Apply customized solutions to improve availability and demand for life-saving medicines in public health systems based on proven models
- Leverage private sector knowledge, insight and relationships to negotiate better supplier deals for Ministries of Health
- Provide leadership and technical oversight from experienced insiders in the Coca-Cola system with expertise in areas of supply chain logistics, route-to-market, cold chain maintenance, marketing and talent management launched throughout Africa
The financial and in-kind investment of The Coca-Cola Company in response to development funding models – together with the success of the project – has enabled significant leverage of contributions from donor partners and Ministries of Health.
Examples of in-kind knowledge, time, and technology provided by the Coca-Cola System
- Technical expertise in route optimization and cold chain maintenance
- Access to Coca-Cola bottler’s supplier lists, benchmark negotiated rates, contract language, and performance management frameworks for both third-party logistics (transport/distribution) and cold-chain maintenance
- Access to innovative route-to-market models from the Coca-Cola system for adaptation to medical supply chains and public health programs
- Site visits at local bottlers for Ministries of Health and partners for training purposes and knowledge exchange
- Access to The Coca-Cola Company’s marketing talent and a global network of best-in-class market research firms and creative agencies for demand generation
- Insights regarding current strategic marketing research and communication strategies from Coca-Cola Marketing Africa
- Contributions of office space and use of vehicles
Project Last Mile is built on the core belief that collaborative cross-sector partnerships can solve development challenges that single actors alone cannot. Although we recognize the risk inherent in any partnership, we believe that these relationships and collaborations are key to accomplishing global good and making progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We remain positive about the power of cross-sector partnerships, and thankful for the contributions of all our partners, including The Coca-Cola Company and its far-reaching network of bottlers.