Everly works with a Zambia-based nonprofit, ColaLife, and for every box the consumer buys, the company takes part of the proceeds to subsidize the production of the rehydration salts. ColaLife uses the same networks as Coca-Cola, which allows the nonprofit to distribute salts to rural areas. So far, Everly has helped provide 128,000 oral rehydration packets.
Bringing grassroots entrepreneurialism to healthcare is a feature of ColaLife Zambia, which won $370,000. Using the same distribution networks as fast moving consumer goods, such as soft drinks, retailers are able to buy kits containing treatments for diarrhoea – among the biggest childhood killers in Zambia – and roll them out in remote communities. ColaLife now plans to expand the programme into other countries which have expressed an interest in its approach.
So how about a cure for diarrhea – the leading killer of children in Africa under the age of five? Although the cure already exists, there are significant obstacles in getting that medicine to hundreds of rural African villages. And yet what is delivered to these villages almost without fail? Coca Cola! So if you could simply place the small medicine packs in cases of Coke, it would get there, right? And it did. This remarkable video captures that journey.
The partners announced today the winners of the Healthcare Innovation Award’s second edition. The University of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa and ColaLife Zambia each took home $370,000, the former for a mobile app that can help ensure the quality of breastmilk donated to human milk banks, and the latter for a low-cost diarrhea treatment kit.
Suddenly, your world just explodes! Is there someone out there with distribution, audience, or resources you could utilize? In 2008, for example, ColaLife had the idea to bring life-saving medicines to parts of Africa. It just lacked the distribution. So, the company identified Coca-Cola as a partner with all the distribution it could ever hope for; and went after them.
One venture, ColaLife, decided to take this idea one stage further and developed ‘aid pods’- anti-diarrhea kits – that would fit into the crates used to deliver coke. Piloting began with community involvement in Zambia and moved to trial whether distributing the pods via Coca Cola crates would work. The idea of using an existing trade network to distribute vital medical aid is excellent.
At the heart of ColaLife has been powerful storytelling using a wide range of media and social media to take supporters – like me – on the journey of the project that I first discovered through Facebook. This has included regular blogs, video and audio content and powerful frontline photography. It is this photography that really stands out for me: first-hand, authentic and not pictures of people living in poverty but people living with hope.
ColaLife is no ordinary charity. The small UK entity has created a successful business plan and distribution model for its pioneering anti-diarrhoea kit in Zambia by learning from Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson. It has just distributed its 50,000th kit and has ambitions to replicate the model in at least three other countries.