Coca-Cola Gets Everywhere. Medicines Don’t. Why?

By Sam Harvey External Relations Officer, iDE UK

Coca-Cola Gets Everywhere. Medicines Don’t. Why?

I am hugely exciting about a new partnership between ColaLife and International Development Enterprises which aims to answer this question.

Together we are investigating the best ways to take ColaLife’s award winning anti-diarrhoea kit – Kit Yamoyo, the ‘Kit of Life’ – to scale across Zambia and potentially across the world.

We have set an ambitious goal: to save 30,000 children’s lives by training local entrepreneurs to sell 10m anti-diarrhoea kits to African mothers/carers by 2017.


We do underestimate the enormity of the challenge we face. Kit Yamoyo is an exciting innovation; yet countless innovations emerge and then fail faster than Sir Alan Sugar’s all-in-one video/emailer phone. There are however, several reasons why we are optimistic about achieving impact and scale with ‘Kit Yamoyo’.

1. We are building on an innovative trial in Zambia, which looked into every aspect of product design and distribution, learning from Coca-Cola. When the trial began, less than 1% of children were getting the simple life-saving medicine. Within 12 months, 45% of children with diarrhoea had used Kit Yamoyo, and 26,000 kits had been sold, by tiny shop keepers in some of the remotest rural areas. The trial proved that there is space in the market for a desirable, affordable ‘anti-diarrhoeal’ kit in Zambia.

2. ‘It’s all about the value-chain stupid!’ Kit Yamoyo contains the WHO/UNICEF recommended – combined Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) / Zinc therapy. Yet interestingly the key driver of sales in the trial was not the original idea of fitting Kit Yamoyo between bottles in Coca-Cola crates – only 4% of retailers used this feature. Rather it was the innovative design, ensuring that mothers could measure the medicine correctly, and making sure that profit could be captured by everyone involved in getting ‘Kit Yamoyo’ into the hands of mothers, including the local company making the kits, the wholesaler and the small shops in hard-to-reach rural areas.

3. iDE has over 32 years’ experience of rural marketing (fifteen in Zambia) to get products into remote rural villages using the market. Our agriculture innovations have increased the incomes and improved the lives of over 20 million small-scale farmers; WASH innovations, such as affordable latrines (100k sold in 2 years) and water filters (350,000 sold) have achieved scale, through the private sector, making a significant difference to global poverty.

The need to address diarrhoea for children under five and provide better access to ORS and Zinc supplementation is well established but under-fulfilled in Zambia and globally.

By achieving real scale and getting millions of kits into the hands of African and Asian mothers, iDE and ColaLife can make a significant difference to decreasing high levels of stunting and mortality caused by diarrhoea in children under five.

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