Instead of having a vending machine selling all sorts of healthcare-related items (diapers, baby food and clothes, birth kits, cell phones, etc.), we could imagine using community mothers or mentors, or even health care workers. This way, we could reduce the literacy gap, while still keeping a “human” contact that might be reassuring, and having information spread out from within communities, via people who belong to these communities (UPDATED!).
These ladies ("
madres cuidadoras") can share with the members of their communities (esp. expecting mothers, young parents, the elderly) advice and tips on how to deliver safely / grow their children to be strong and healthy and/or take care of one's own health.
> Vending "point"
These ladies can also sell basic medical supplies, nutritional products and food, as well as basic necessities (diapers, sanitary pads, etc.).
The sales point could be either fixed and/or as a door-to-door sales model (the vendor lady would know the pregnant mothers in her community and go to their house for example).
A third channel alternative would be to offer some group health workshops by the network of madres cuidadoras under the impulse of GLC. The sessions will provide a broad minimum of health information, which can be backed up by the sales of medicines that are likely to to purchased widely e.g. deworming medicines, soap, contraceptives, etc. (Thanks
SiuSue Mark for this idea!).
These group sessions can be followed up by the personalized visits, which offer more in-depth health care advice to families, based on their individual needs.
> Village phone
The vendor ladies could complement their business by selling airtime, to ensure the sustainability of the model (in times where, for example, there are fewer women in need of healthcare items).
As far as initial costs are concerned, the Grameen Creative Lab could help buying initial stocks at bulk price and sell them to these ladies in smaller quantities. An initial setup with a microloan could be standardized in order to help creating these businesses.
This system would
foster local entrepreneurship: the vendor ladies can build local businesses around this activity; manage their own stocks and inventories (using mobile technology to communicate with their suppliers for example) and potentially use microfinance or voucher-based schemes to
help locals acquire the health care items they need.
This solution also works in a low-literacy context as the vendor ladies could communicate directly with the members of their communities sharing knowledge via word of mouth.
What role(s) will the Grameen Creative Lab play?
The Grameen Creative Lab could:
- act as an aggregator to create a solid network of these ladies;
- help the vendor ladies start their businesses, by providing initial investment micro-loans*;
- help training them as far as budgeting/managing supplies is concerned**;
- provide booklets / knowledge materials to help spreading best health practices in the community.
* GCL is doing right now is creating Grameen Caldas, a locally run micro-credit organization / Social Business Fund that also creates Joint Ventures with large companies, thanks Grameen Creative Lab for the information.
"In this case, Grameen Caldas could finance an entrepreneur who would be responsible for designing the business plan for this business, and run it like a social business (in a self-sustainable way, but with profits being reinvested into the business). Micro-loans could be provided to the women, to finance their “starting package” as well as their training."
On the longer term, las madres cuidadoras might also serve as agents/retailers to sell health insurance products on behalf of Grameen Caldas (thanks
SiuSue Mark for this one).
** "As for the training, an option is to develop a program along with some educational institutions like the SENA (national professional training institution) who offers training at very low costs. Again, this could be financed through a micro-loan to make it sustainable."
This training idea could even be taken a step further by providing a certification to the women who have proved to master the training material, this certification being a condition for their access to a micro-loan (Thanks
for this add-on).
This is a concept I have posted for the former Maternal Health challenge, but thought was still relevant for this challenge (as it's pretty much a social entrepreneurship / social business scheme). Here is the link for the original post:
I can't link these directly to this one as they're from different challenges, but would like to give them credit.