By Sandy Garçon, Communications Manager, PSI
Over the past several years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of social enterprises – for-profit ventures with social objectives at their core – working to solve some of the world’s most pressing needs.
These social enterprises often work in areas where the state is not able to deliver and traditional businesses and non-governmental organizations don’t know how to provide the necessary services. Even worse, traditional actors might simply have no interest. In other words, social enterprises work where there is market failure.
Social enterprises use a market-driven business model to address key social or environmental challenges. Entrepreneurs are tackling problems that long constrained the development of healthy markets in low- and middle-income countries. They improve access, arrange financing, expand distribution and disseminate information to consumers and businesses.
Working across different sectors, the following four locally-based social ventures are innovating to produce sustainable impact for their countries’ economies and communities’ well-being.
Sectors Health, Supply Chain
Solution Spun off from CARE Zambia through its Impact Accelerator in 2015, Live Well provides rural communities with access to essential health products. Building on an existing volunteer network, Live Well has built a private-sector supply chain that delivers to previously inaccessible areas, and creates jobs for thousands of door-to-door sales agents.
Impact Live Well has cultivated a network of 300 Community Health Entrepreneurs, and operates in 10 rural and peri-urban communities. It offers consumers over 25 products, including over-the-counter medications, nutritional and hygiene products, and contraceptives. It will add solar lamps and cook stoves this year.
Markets Kenya, Myanmar, Uganda and Zambia
Solution Living Goods provides services in maternal and child health, nutrition and reproductive health. Community-based health systems tend to be under-funded, under-stocked, and under-managed. Living Goods recruits, trains, and supports networks of Community Health Promoters (CHPs) who go door-to-door to deliver health education, diagnose and treat illnesses, support pregnant mothers and newborns, and sell products. They make a living from sales and incentives, addressing one key challenges of motivating and retaining community health workers.
Impact Living Goods will grow to over 5,000 Community Health Promoters and reach over 5 million people by the end of 2016.
Sectors Logistics, Supply Chain
Markets Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Solution Sokowatch provides companies with a simple, consistent, and reliable distribution channel to meet the demands of the informal market. Employing retrained street hawkers, Sokowatch allows shopkeepers to order products – from medicines to personal care items – via SMS for guaranteed 24-hour delivery free of charge. Sokowatch sustains operations through partnerships with manufacturers including Unilever and GlaxoSmithKline.
Impact The Sokowatch network has agents across Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Sokowatch already supplies about 5,000 shops in the Nairobi area and is expanding to cover other key urban markets in East Africa in 2017.
Sectors Agribusiness, Financial Services
Solution FarmDrive is a Kenyan-based social enterprise that connects underserved smallholder farmers to lenders, while helping financial institutions expand lending. FarmDrive provides a digital record-keeping platform that enables farmers to track their activities using a mobile phone. Their information, combined with existing agricultural data, is used to develop a credit profile.
Impact Since beginning operations in May 2015, FarmDrive has registered nearly 3,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya. Over KES 13 million (USD $128.000) have been lent. Finally, FarmDrive has partnerships with satellite companies, insurers, data analysts, and development organizations to both scale and improve its impact.
Photo © Living Goods / Photo by: Esther Havens
This article is part of an ongoing conversation about #MakingMarketsWork in Impact Magazine No. 22 “Are We Thinking Big Enough” issue. Join in the conversation with @PSIImpact.