The ‘Avon Ladies’ of Africa

From Fixes at the New York Times:

What if every time people came up with a new product, they also had to devise a completely new way to sell it?   Imagine that we had no Amazons, eBays, Targets or Walmarts — no distribution chain at all, and no stores near potential buyers.  Nor is there a way for potential customers to learn about the product. Oh, and they can’t afford it anyway — they can’t afford much of anything.

Many of the world’s poor occupy this alternate universe.  Every week someone comes up with an ingenious new water filter, vitamin packet, solar lamp, efficient cookstove, fortified food, new medicine. But these great ideas often fail, or simply don’t reach many people — for want of a business model.

While we like new technologies at Fixes, what we love are new ways to get these technologies to people who need them.  Living Goods, which operates in Uganda, has a very promising model.  It brings goods the poor need to their doorsteps, at below-market prices.  Most important, Living Goods is building a business with the potential to sustain itself — it has already hit some important milestones.  That’s the key to a long life and wide growth — to helping vast numbers of people.

Read the complete story here.

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