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Health-care Vending Machines

The social business is around distributing basic, sometimes life saving, medication to the people in remote areas. What if we think of a model to deliver basic health-care items such as vitamins, oral rehydration salts, birth kits, condoms, zinc tablets, emergency kits, etc. via a vending machine?

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova
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Supply: A group of distributors, with at least 5 years of education, on bikes and backpacks, will supply the healthcare vending machines. They will travel to the pharmacy in the city or a wholesaler, purchase basic medication, which can be delivered to the remote rural areas without the need of a prescription from a physician, in bulk and resell it via the vending machines. Alternatively, as Anjelika mentions in her inspiration, another source of supply could be Medshare. They recover surplus of medical supplies and equipment from hospitals to individuals, and then redistribute them to those most in need, particularly in developing countries.

Demand: the buyers are low income community members in need for some basic medication. A plastic flipbook could hang on the vending machine with pictorial instructions i.e. how to use a condom, how to use oral rehydration salts in case of diarrhea for a child, for adult, etc. Additional plastic flipbook could be distributed to the families on request.

Training: The distributors will receive a basic training around the basic medical equipment and supplies to understand what they are buying/selling.

Initial costs: the vending machines and appropriate bikes, which are safe to ride in difficult terrain. Vending machines that not require refrigerator cost 100-200 USD. It is worth to investigate if cheaper/smaller vending machines could be built.

Spreading the word: a good time to spread the word amongst the local women is at the time before they gather to watch the telenovelas or after that. Additionally, places of worship are a good place to spread the word.

Challenge: this business can become profitable if it could scale and if the vending machines are not damaged and the medication stolen

How do you envision this idea making money?

Pricing: the items in the vending machine could be priced at the same as in the local pharmacy. The distributors could make money by buying in bulk with discount and selling at prices as in a regular pharmacy. An alternative could be to get paid in air time, instead of cash, if this is a preferred option. According to the statistics most people own a cell phone.

How does this idea create social impact, particularly around improving health?

Providing basic medical care to the remote areas and the impoverished. No more waiting long time to be seen by a doctor for basic medication.

How does this idea add social value at every step of the process?

- Engage a community of enterpreneurs - Provide basic healthcare - The flipbooks will have exact visual instrictions what to do

What are the short term steps we could take to implement this idea tomorrow?

- Install a vending machine - Get a group of distributors - Search for possible sources of supply


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Photo of marco mihambo

Hello Krassimira! Congratulation for being an innovative specifically your capacity to offer an innovative ideas to various challenges in our community. On my side I have a personal concern regarding your expertise on business. I have 10 million and I want to do a business but i don't any ideal idea yet. So, is there any social business you know I can introduce in Tanzania because most of our social problems are more like the same.
Also, we can communicate more through email:

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