BFP: What do you do?
JC: Living Goods operates networks of community health entrepreneurs in Uganda and Kenya. These are primarily women who earn income by selling low cost, high quality products to meet the needs of the household and improve the health of mothers and their children. Our model has proven to be a highly cost effective market based alternative to government and donor-run voluntary community health worker networks. These networks typically suffer from funding fluctuations, unreliable incomes and frequent product stock outs. In Uganda, our model has led to over a 20% reduction in under 5 mortality, and a 50% decrease in the prevalence of fake malaria drugs in the areas where our entrepreneurs work.
Given this huge impact, we are looking to scale our model in Uganda, Kenya and other countries in Africa and Asia. However, we cannot do this alone. Our partnerships team is looking to scale the Living Goods model by providing advisory services to partners to develop replications of our last mile distribution platform. My role on the Strategic Partnerships Team is focused on identifying the best partners and managing some of our advisory projects, including one in Myanmar right now.
BFP: What is the best part about your job/project?
JC: Living Goods’ Strategic Partnerships team is a relatively new concept for our organization. It is really exciting to build this business channel with a brilliant and energetic team, where we continue to learn about the incredibly impactful work our partners are doing across the globe. We are fortunate to build our advisory services off of the strong foundation set by our founder, Chuck Slaughter, and our teams in Uganda and Kenya.
BFP: What has been your greatest challenge?
JC: One of the greatest challenges is also one of the most exciting bits of the role. We have to dig deep to understand our client’s current model and build an adaptation of the Living Goods model that can be poised for impact, scale and sustainability. Each client has a unique operating environment and their impact goals often vary from our core model.
How have you overcome these challenges? / What has been the secret of your success? / What advice can you give others?
JC: We aim to really understand the context and motivators for our clients. This starts with in depth country analysis to identify areas that are best suited for a replication of the Living Goods model, followed by detailed discussions with partners and funders. One of the most important elements for success of our projects comes down to finding the right team and leadership that is interested in failing fast to drive innovation of their models. I find that building these relationships and mutual understanding with clients is really imperative.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do – where do they start?
JC: Since I started working in development, I have been motivated and challenged by colleagues, peers and mentors with a diverse array of experience. My degree in international development helped build my knowledge of the sector, while my private sector background in the finance industry helped build practical analytical skills and confidence to work with senior management of clients. From there I have been fortunate through luck and networking to find organisations that prioritize hiring young, talented people that are empowered to take initiative to drive change.
BFP: Finally, What do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
JC: BFP provides a fantastic opportunity for mutual learning. I am impressed by the contributions of the community and the relevance of the content to my job. Through BFP, I hope to continue growing my knowledge on effective partnerships, new products for the BoP and unique last mile distribution strategies through active discussions and sharing of Living Goods’ innovations and experiences.
Thank you to Jack Castle for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.