Friday, July 13, 2007

"My Little Pharmacies" in Mexico

This post is from NextBillion:

"I'm very happy to announce the release of the WRI business case study, What Works: Mi Farmacita Nacional, authored by Enrique Coronado ('08), Christina Krettecos ('07), and Yvonne Lu ('07) of Columbia Business School.

Mi Farmacita Nacional, a fully for-profit pharmacy franchise, is among the first retailers of generic medications to serve low-income communities in Mexico. Mi Farmacita was launched in 2003 and has since more than doubled its number of outlets every year to reach 57 outlets as of March 2007. Outlets in operation for a minimum of 22 months are now processing an average of 2,400 transactions/month in sales of affordable medications, doctor consultations, filtered water, telephone access, and other essential products and services.

What Works: Mi Farmacita Nacional analyzes the business strategies that have enabled Mi Farmacita's rapid growth and success in serving low-income communities.

This case study was made possible through the generous support of the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School."

A couple thoughts as I read through the Case Study:

I find it interesting that the business is purely for-profit and is the joint effort of two large companies in an effort to tap a new market and not necessarily a social enterprise that started off with the goal of helping the poor. I would place it under the philosophy of the "Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" folks. I think they have great potential to bring essential goods and services to the poor but I would also like to see a system of checks or audits to ensure that they will stay socially responsible as they deal with the poor.

I like their goal to be "accessible by foot" as they choose store locations.
I like the inclusion of phone and internet health services which they cite as significantly increasing store traffic.
I found it interesting that 70% of franchisee recruits reported the company website as their source of discovery of the business opportunity.
I looks like helping potential franchisees finance their startup costs is the major barrier to accelerated growth at the present time.

I'll be interested in following their progress in the near future.

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