Monday, March 03, 2008

Field Update from Living Goods

Although I do not have direct contact with Living Goods I have always been interested in their work as the concept is nearly identical to the HealthKeepers of Freedom from Hunger, the market research for that business being the topic of my graduate thesis. I am anxious to see how the models mold as they are refined on the ground. This is a recent update from Chuck Slaughter, the founder and president:

Friends of Living Goods,

Living Goods, known as the “Avon of Rural Health”, is delighted to share the following milestones from this last fast-paced year on our journey to becoming the first fully sustainable system for defeating the diseases of poverty:

• Last May Living Goods and BRAC signed a joint venture agreement to collaborate on building a Living Goods network serving 20+ districts in Uganda.

• The Rockefeller Foundation, Mulago Foundation, Causal Fund and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation each awarded core funding to Living Goods.

• Extensive research, field study and customer focus groups helped LG identify its first 28 health products which are now in stock across the LG network.

• In a sizable launch, Community Health Promoters were carefully selected, trained equipped and deployed to serve 200 communities.

• Poverty Action Lab began helping Living Goods design a best-of-class randomized evaluation system to measure LG’s key objectives of dramatically reducing mortality and fertility rates.

• Harvard Business School and the Harvard School of Public Health selected Living Goods to participate in their Project Antares field study.

• Living Goods was awarded an exclusive Draper Richards Fellowship.

• Most recently Living Goods began developing plans to market low cost solar lanterns and high efficiency cook stoves to help poor households dramatically reduce fuel expenses and indoor pollution.

• Chris Elias- President of PATH, Paul Polak - Founder of IDE, and Erastus Kibugu of Technoserve Uganda joined the Living Goods Advisory Board.

We extend our sincere thanks to all who helped LG reach this important juncture. In particular we want to acknowledge the BRAC Uganda team and their exceptional director Mr. Khondokar Ariful Islam. Their commitment, experience and professionalism are unmatched and indispensable.

Of course this is just the beginning. We will add 300-500 more Health Promoters before the end of the year, and scale to 3,000+ in four years serving four million people in Uganda alone. In the coming years LG plans to replicate this model across the developing world with other world class partners and test expanded product offerings in clean water, power and small holder agriculture. In fact a half dozen multinational NGOs are already expressing keen interest in collaborating with LG to implement its innovative system in other countries.

Naturally, along with these opportunities abundant challenges lie ahead. Living Goods represents a disruptive innovation in rural health care that will require considerable trial and error. Building a truly sustainable, replicable business model will be one measure of Living Goods success; the far greater success will be counted in the many diseases prevented, the many children saved, and the many healthy productive years families will enjoy by virtue of having affordable essential medicines within reach.

Please feel free to contact me directly ( if you have any questions, or are interested in partnering with or supporting Living Goods.

To Your Health,

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