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.
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
Nov 26, 2013

Into the future

Mothers get vouchers in rural Kalomo
Mothers get vouchers in rural Kalomo

In 4 days, our first trial in Zambia comes to an end - and it's the time of year to say 'Thanks' to everyone who has helped us, see what we have achieved and look ahead to what we can do next year.

Two years ago, as non-health professionals, Simon and I set out to see whether we could design an attractive, affordable, anti-diarrhoea kit, containing ORS and Zinc, to save children's lives. Those 2 years have transported our designs from our kitchen table to the United Nations, taken 25,000 'Kit Yamoyo' to some of the remotest communities in Zambia, and have now taken Simon to Uganda, India and South Africa to guage future interest (while I'm here writing the end of project reports!).

We could hardly have guessed when we began that in our first trial areas, we would:

  • increase use of the 'gold standard' diarrhoea treatment from close to 0% to 45% of children
  • shorten the distance mothers have to travel to get medicine by more than two thirds
  • help nearly all of our customers (94%) to mix ORS correctly, using the kit's package

There is still more work to do, and on December 1, we will be ready to start Phase 2. Two of our major funders have now confirmed support, and we will have the final piece in place in a week or so.  Our ambition is to cover the whole of Zambia in 3 years - including communities in towns and the city of Lusaka.  

ColaLife - Simon and I - plan to stay in Zambia for another year, helping our local frontline NGO partners to develop the market in their area, and our Zambian manufacturing partner, Pharmanova, to scale up production to serve the emerging market for Kit Yamoyo. And when Simon gets back from his travels, will we have another country to take on the challenge?  Meanwhile, our brand new product now has its very own barcode: we hope that the big supermarket chains here will also buy Kit Yamoyo - creating the economies of scale we need to drive down the price. We now know that more that 2/3 of mothers and carers in our trial areas are willing to pay K5.00 (about a dollar) for the kit at their local shop, rather than carrying their sick child many kilometres to the health centre. And for those who can't afford it, we know that giving vouchers out will create demand and encourage shop-keepers to bring the kit to remote communities.

That's where YOU come in: as we start the holiday season, why not buy a pack of ten Kit Yamoyo AidPods on behalf of your friends and colleagues? Just $10 will buy ten vouchers for mothers in rural villages, and each voucher will put money into the hands of a local shop keeper and life-saving medicine into a mother's hands.

Send your greeting by email or print your gift card here.

Happy Holidays!

Jane and Simon


A note on the data in this post

Cited data are interim results from the ColaLife Operational Trial in Zambia (COTZ) and do not reflect the final report which will be published as Ramchandani et al. Final calculations may vary.

Dads get vouchers too!
Dads get vouchers too!

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