Country of Operation
Target income level
- Bottom 20%
SummaryLiving goods is an “Avon-like” network of franchised community health promoters who provide health education and earn a living selling essential health products door-to-door at prices affordable to the poor.
The Living Goods model combines the latest and best practices from the worlds of microfinance, franchising, and public health to create a sustainable system for defeating diseases of poverty. Living Goods reduces illness and death by significantly improving access to and adoption of simple, proven health interventions in the many places these are scarce or non-existent.
Key program components
Community health promoters are trained to provide basic health counseling on a variety of topics to their communities and make a modest living by selling health products such as mosquito nets, water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts, vitamin A, antimalarial drugs, dewormers, condoms, and the like at below-market prices. To boost sales and ensure long-term sustainability, community health promoters also sell personal care products such as soap, feminine pads, and toothpaste as well as products that support household income or savings, such as solar lanterns, efficient stoves, and high-yield seeds.
Key program components include:
- Local partnerships: LivingGoods has initiated a joint venture in Uganda with BRAC Uganda where BRAC recruits community health promoters from its base of 50,000 borrower group members (its very selective process chooses only 1 in 90 members). Existing BRAC microfinance branches double as depots and field offices. Community health providers live within 6 kilometers of a supply point.
- Public health training: All franchisees are trained to give basic public health counseling on the use of products and to facilitate referrals to acutely ill patients.
- Financial sustainability: The sustainability plan relies on each franchisee generating $2,400 in annual sales with a 25% margin, yielding $500 in annual net income—quite comfortable by Ugandan standards for individuals with no professional training.
- Below market pricing: LivingGoods’ buying power and ability to cut out intermediates allow it to set prices 10%–30% below market.
- Distribution and monitoring: Field agents meet community health promoters at least once a month to resupply, collect payments, communicate current promotions, and provide ongoing health education and business coaching. Agents are required to keep detailed and accurate records of all patient contacts and transactions. Field agents collect these data and enter them in a central database. LivingGoods is conducting an independent randomized trial to accurately measure the model’s impact on mortality and morbidity.
- Mobile Technology: Living Goods also uses mobile technology for quality control and patient monitoring. In order to increase adherence, Living Goods sends automated SMS reminders to parents of sick children and pregnant mothers.
Living Goods also plans to increase nutritional impact by launching Living Goods' nutrition product development; build a comprehensive data warehouse to aggregate health metrics, sales by agent, mobile data, and agent/customer profiles; expand mobile tools to analyze and manage performance, drive learning, and increase the health impact of the model; and increase micro-targeting to better reach persons with low service utilization.
As of 2012, Living Goods had 534,820 client visits. In October 2013, Living Goods launched its operations in Kenya - in Kariobangi, northeast of Nairobi. Their network is over 80 agents.