ColaLife

Our vision is a world where people collaborate from business, public and NGO sectors so children no longer die from preventable causes through lack of access to simple medicines and the knowledge of how to use them. Our Mission is to build novel partnerships to alleviate poverty and improve health in the developing world through innovation.
Sep 11, 2014

What a milestone - 50,000 Lifesaving Kit Yamoyos sold!

Shopkeeper Christine with new stock
Shopkeeper Christine with new stock

During a busy summer break back in UK, Simon and I were delighted to hear from Rakesh, who is managing Kit Yamoyo manufacture in Zambia, that 50,000 Kit Yamoyos have been sold since we began the project, just 2 years ago, in September 2012. Just under half of these kits (21,823 to be precise!) were sold with the help of vouchers - and a BIG thank you to all our supporters for helping us to achieve this. As we move forward, towards a sustainable market, we are also delighted that over half of all sales have been for cash. And, as production is now all undertaken in Zambia by our local manufacturing partner, Pharmanova - where Rakesh is Marketing Director - all the profits are going into local pockets: from the factory to the shop.

Shortly afterwards, our fieldworker in remote Katete district, Elias Lungu, confirmed that 30 cartons had arrived at the local wholesaler. These contain just over 1,000 kits - and we know that will save at least 3 children's lives. As we come into the end of the dry season, good fresh water sources can become scarce and diarrhoea becomes a real issue.  Elias told us that, in just 2 days, 7 of these cartons were sold to local shop-keepers like Christine, pictured, who can improve their livehood, as well as the health of their community, by bringing Kit Yamoyo to sell to local mothers.

Now that Kit Yamoyo is available for anyone to buy, in a free market situation, it's amazing to see what happens. Six of our newly trained retailers in remote Eastern Province are from villages that border Malawi: Muchenjeza and Sindamisale. And with Africa's porous borders, Malawians are coming across into Zambia to buy Kit Yamoyo, and taking it back into Malawi - where access to good, simple medicines is, if anything, worse than in Zambia. So, market forces are helping distribution to expand - all by itself. Our big hope for the end of this year, is to get another fully-funded project, so that we can boost this process - and get Kit Yamoyo established in two more countries.

Meanwhile, the same market expansion is happening on Zambia's border with Mozambique. At Mr Phiri's shop, in Mtandaza, he adeptly shows our fieldworkers, Albert and Elias, how he teaches Mozambican customers to use Kit Yamoyo. Donations from Global Giving are helping us to continue this simple but vital training of local retailers - often miles away from any clinic - so they can show customers how to treat potentially deadly dehydration from diarrhoea using Kit Yamoyo in the home; as well as the importance of using the soap provided for hand-washing; and how to make water safe to use. He tells us he now has equal numbers of customers from Mozambique and Zambia: "Those that are Zambian, and those who come from outside, they are same-same. They like this Kit Yamoyo."  Even in this far flung remote rural area, Mr Phiri has successfully transitioned from sales using just vouchers distributed by the project, to cash sales.

We know though, that not every mother can afford the full retail price needed to make the product sustainable for every one in this 'value chain' (about $1), so we were also delighted, last month, to recieve our 350th donation via Global Giving! We are now working on a simplified voucher system to help the poorest in rural areas.

Please keep the support coming - and we hope to reporting more exciting news at the end of the year! Watch this space!

Mr Phiri demonstrates Kit Yamoyo to new customers
Mr Phiri demonstrates Kit Yamoyo to new customers
Albert (left) and Elias (right) visit Mr Phiri
Albert (left) and Elias (right) visit Mr Phiri
Jun 6, 2014

New retailers join - as we move from trial to scale-up!

Jane chats to a shopkeeper
Jane chats to a shopkeeper

Well - it's been a really busy few months since our trial phase ended at the end of 2013! The ColaLife team in Zambia (well, mainly Jane) has been juggling report writing, with making new funding bids, audits and evaluations - and the launch of Kit Yamoyo as a product made in Zambia!  Simon completed a mini-tour of the USA and Canada that included two film showings of The Cola Road and took in visits to PATH, The Gates Foundation, the Dupont Awards (as guest speaker and winner of last year's event), our great mentor Dr Prashant Yadav at the University of Michigan. 

Meanwhile, our Zambian partners have been forging forward with the 'proper work': training new retailers as we expand out from our trial areas into new rural districts of Zambia and for the first time, into urban areas: the townships around the capital, Lusaka.

These reports are direct from Ezra and Elias - who work with our partner Keepers Zambia Foundation in Katete district, in Eastern Zambia. Katete district has a population of about 190,000 people, and in the rural areas beyond the town, there are about 60 people per square km. There are two tarmac roads – one goes down to the border with Mozambique, and the other stretches from the provincial capital, Chipata, on the Malawian border, to the national capital, Lusaka, 7-9 hours and over 500km away, to the west. Otherwise, dirt roads and footpaths provide the only transport links – and many become impassible in the wet season.

"First, we would like to introduce you to Sarah, from Chimosuko, on the road into Katete town. She has been running a grocery shop for the past 8 years now together with her husband. Apart from owning a small shop, she is also one of the trusted Health Community Workers attached to Chibolya Health Centre, which serves around 9,000 people. She came to know about Kit Yamoyo through the local radio programmes that are broadcast on Wednesdays of each week.

Sarah got the courage and came to the project office in Katete Town, to inquire how she could be one of the retailers to be included on the programme. It did not take long before Wave 4 training for the retailers was organized in the month of March 2014. Being among the 6 women that were trained, from a total of 26, Sarah has proved to the men that she is not ‘just a woman’! From the training, she bought a bag of 5 Kit Yamoyo and started selling right away. And within 4 days after training, she was already at the wholesaler ordering more Kit Yamoyo.  As on the 3-Jun-14 she has sold 48 Kit Yamoyo in under 2 months and she is the highest in the group, selling around 20-24 kits a month.

When asked how she has managed to have good sales when most of her colleagues have sold between 10 to 18, here are some of the strategies she mentioned:

  • She has taken advantage of her experience at the clinic during under five clinic activities to advertise the product, as well as during meeting mothers in the field
  • She has been informing which ever customer that she has a new product in the shop called Kit Yamoyo: an anti diarrhoea kit and telling them about its benefits
  • She has also made announcements at church and all village meetings about Kit Yamoyo

Sarah says she will expand her business by opening another retail shop in the nearby villages since the demand is good. Comparing with other groceries, which she is selling, she said she is happy with Kit Yamoyo as it fetches a good profit, more than sugar, soap, toothpaste and biscuits.

Secondly, meet Cosmas: a farmer and retailer who lives in Chundamila village, nearby Kafunkha Health Post - which is far from town.  The area around Kafunkha Health Post is mainly supported by agriculture, and the population served by the health facility is around 7,600 people – who may live up to 10km walk away.  Cosmas has been into trading for more than 20 years. He was trained by the project to sell Kit Yamoyo and be able to give basic advice on diarrhoea, in October 2014, in our third wave of training.  Since last year, Cosmas has sold more than 175 Kit Yamoyo to the community around. That amounts to 30 to 35 a month – which in a low-population rural area represents good sales. His shop is well known and the most popular in the area. 

Asked how he has managed to sell this quantity comparing to what his colleagues have done, he told us that his shop is well located and he is trusted by most of the customers. He is well stocked with nearly everything and takes advantage of high number of customers who frequent his shop to buy other groceries to inform them about Kit Yamoyo.

  • He has conducted 3 community demonstrations at the clinic during the special check-ups for children under 5, and this has helped in marketing his product.
  • He also plays the radio louder when the Kit Yamoyo program is running so that the customers can get first hand information.
  • He has made it a point that there is always Kit Yamoyo stocked in the shop for customers to buy any time.

He also has been making follow-ups to his customers to find out how their patients have been recovering from diarrhoea, and uses what he learns to help advertise more. Cosmas is very happy with the performance of Kit Yamoyo both as a business as well as treatment for diarrhoea. He said all his customers have recommended Kit Yamoyo, once they have used it.

Introducing a new health product to people who are unfamiliar with it - especially in rural areas - is a tricky task, and we are delighted to have on board advocates like Sarah and Cosmas, who take their new role so seriously, and are also turning it into an opportunity to improve their business!

Sarah in her shop
Sarah in her shop
Cosmas
Cosmas
Feb 25, 2014

Mr Banda tells us how it's done!

Mr Banda is quick to grasp an opportunity!
Mr Banda is quick to grasp an opportunity!

This month's report is straight from our field worker in Katete District - Elias Lungu - who is very impressed with one of our newly recruited retailers....

Mr Banda runs a tiny shop in Chipopela village, about 50 km north west of Katete town in eastern Zambia – and more than 8 hours from the capital, Lusaka. Born in 1967, he only went up to Grade 7 at primary school due to financial constraints. He is married with 6 children.

Mr Banda started his business in 2000 and has been in his current shop since 2010. Once or twice a month, he sets off to Katete town to buy the groceries that people in his remote village rely on: soap, sugar, exerices books, pens, biscuits and pain-killers. He heard about Kit Yamoyo on the radio last year and travelled the whole distance into town, just to inquire from our field office what Kit Yamoyo was all about and how he could be involved.

The team responded with plans to include his community in our scale-up phase. In September 2013, the district stakeholder meeting recommended seven new communities to work in – including his. He quickly got the good news through the radio, and again came to the office for confirmation: this one is keen, we thought!

Donations through Global Giving can help us support retailer training - and, together with 16 other retailers, Mr Banda came in October to learn about the Kit Yamoyo AidPod and how to avoid the dangers of dehydration. Immediately, he bought a whole boxful to take back to his shop. Within 3 weeks, he had sold over 20, and by early February he had sold 80. His nearby friend, had sold over 60. As the project has yet to launch the second phase of vouchers, these have all been cash sales, at 5 Kwacha (~$1). But Mr Banda says people appreciate having access to modern medicine so far from town, and many will buy when they need it, rather than make a long trip with a sick child.

He tells us: ‘When I just came from training, I started informing people at church, community and village meetings. I took advantage of those gatherings to advertise – even at funerals where many people gather. Secondary, I have been getting involved in clinic meetings for children in our village and I have also been informing the clinic staff to help refer all the diarrhoea patients to my shop, especially when the clinic is out of stock.  I tell my customers to inform as many people as possible about this new product and how much they like it. And I make sure I have not less than 10 Kit Yamoyos in stock all the time.

Mr Banda assures us that Chipopela villagers are delighted someone has taken the trouble to understand their needs and the challenges in their lives, and has designed a medicine for the everyday problem of diarrhoea that is easy to understand and use, affordable, and now available within their own community.  Mr Banda clearly knows a good business opportunity when he sees one!

Elias (right) supporting trainees
Elias (right) supporting trainees
A happy customer on his way home with his AidPod
A happy customer on his way home with his AidPod
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