December 2, 2010, SAN FRANCISCO—Omidyar Network announced today a grant of USD $915,000 to Living Goods, the ‘Avon of healthcare’ for the poor. Living Goods operates networks of village health entrepreneurs who go door-to-door to provide health education and sell essential health products at prices affordable to the poor.
Now supporting more than 600 Community Health Promoters, Living Goods will use the grant to strengthen its operations in Uganda, implement a mobile phone/SMS marketing platform and initiate expansion to new countries in Africa, training up to 4,000 additional health entrepreneurs over the next five years. Omidyar Network’s support will also help Living Goods test new products such as clean cook stoves, solar lights and water filters that can dramatically improve health and help the poor save money on daily essentials.
“Living Goods employs an effective and scalable model to improve health care in underserved markets,” said Amy Klement, Vice President, Investments at Omidyar Network. “We’re thrilled to support this innovative approach to health care for the poor that combines livelihood creation with dramatic health improvement — all with a rigorous eye towards financial sustainability.”
Living Goods continues to innovate in areas such as marketing, sales, distribution and use of technology, applying business discipline and economies of scale to the fragmented and inefficient landscape of rural retailers in Africa. Bringing a proven direct-selling model to the poor, Living Goods drives down costs by cutting out middlemen and creating buying power through scale, resulting in retail prices that are 30% below market.
Living Goods supports two micro-franchise networks in Uganda: one through its flagship partnership with BRAC, a pioneering microfinance NGO with over six million borrowers in nine countries, and a second directly owned and operated system. Going forward, Living Goods will continue to grow its direct operations as well as forge new partnerships to reach new communities in Africa. In addition to financial backing, Omidyar Network will support Living Goods’ growth through human capital; Klement will join the board of directors.
“Omidyar Network understands how to apply market-based approaches to social problems; they are a natural partner for us,” said Chuck Slaughter, Founder and President of Living Goods. “By providing flexible funding and relevant expertise, Omidyar Network is advancing our mission to create a sustainable system for defeating the diseases of poverty.”
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $383 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, entrepreneurship, property rights, consumer Internet, mobile technology, and government transparency. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.com.
About Living Goods
Living Goods is an Avon-like network of door-to-door Health Promoters who make a modest income selling essential health products at prices affordable to the poor. The model combines the latest and best practices from the worlds of micro enterprise and public health to create a truly sustainable system for defeating diseases of poverty. Living Goods (LG) reduces illness and death by significantly improving access to simple, proven health interventions in the many places these are scarce. It also improves livelihoods by providing women a reliable source of income as Living Goods Health Promoters, by keeping wage earners healthy and productive, and by averting costly medical treatments. For more information, visit www.livinggoods.org.