The Most-Viewed, Most-Shared NextBillion Posts for July
Kopernik is a nonprofit in Indonesia intent on helping shopkeepers sell merchandise. But not just any merchandise; the organization is interested in the life-sustaining/life-improving variety: water filters, solar lamps, cook stoves, bednets and clean birth kits – to name a few. It’s also working to train store owners on how to use them, with the goal of improving customer confidence in their purchase, and ultimately, improving sales output. Kopernik says it has helped distribute these types of products via shopkeepers to nearly 200,000 people.
Tomohiro Hamakawa is the project manager at Kopernik, where he manages consulting projects within the organization’s advisory service arm. So much of what he writes about feels like common sense. But in penning our most-viewed post of July, his straightforward 5 Success Factors for Technology Distribution and Adoption in the Last Mile demonstrates how challenging that is, especially when it comes to comprehending how people adopt new and unfamiliar technology. There the “innovators, the early adopters, the early majority, late majority and laggards”; but these profiles are common to all consumers, be they the top of the income scale or the bottom. Low-income consumers need to feel assured they can fix a broken product (or return it to the store) before they sink much of their hard-earned money into a life-improving device, he writes. Key quote:
“Many of the simple, life-changing technologies available in the market bring multiple benefits to users. Solar lanterns, for example, not only leapfrog one of the key needs that comes with a lack of electricity, but are also cheaper in the long run and are safer than kerosene lamps. This is what makes these products truly innovative. In marketing these innovations, however, Kopernik has learned that the most tangible benefits need to be most strongly communicated. Tangible benefits usually mean monetary benefits for people living in poverty in the last mile. Oftentimes, a single, simple message is more powerful than trying to communicate multiple, abstract messages at once.”
In our second-most-viewed post for July, Two Sides of the Same Coin: How India’s microfinance and health sectors can collaborate for greater impact, Sabina Rogers and Fred Stuart make the case for why the two sectors are a natural fit for development. Whether it’s spreading important health information, providing loans for toilets and other devices to improve sanitation, or building health insurance pools, the authors explore several trends in the low-income health market, which are just the tip of the iceberg:
“There are over 93 million microfinance clients and SHG (self-help group) members in India, so cross-sector collaboration will be instrumental in expanding health care access to tens of millions – if not hundreds of millions – of Indians. Furthermore, this intervention is affordable; a global study by Freedom from Hunger with five MFIs found the average cost of integrated health and microfinance programs was USD $1.59 per client per year, and costs have remained consistently low.”
The authors, who are both employed with Microcredit Summit Campaign (disclosure: NextBillion is serving as a media partner for the summit), have released the second part of the report, “Integrated Health and Microfinance in India, Volume II: The Way Forward.”
In July, we also published a couple of posts in response to Monitor Deloitte’s recently released Beyond the Pioneer report, and its clarion call for organizations to step up as “industry facilitators” to help overcome key challenges in building a social enterprise ecosystem. Geeta Goel, who leads the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s Global Mission Investing function, offered one such response, Facilitating New Markets: Philanthropies are uniquely suited to fostering market-based solutions to poverty, our third most viewed post for July. Goel explains that philanthropic foundations, such as her organization, are in a good position to be the honest brokers of this space. Endowed philanthropic organizations tend to have more flexible capital and are less likely to be myopically focused on a success or failure of a single investment. Goel also notes that philanthropic groups have a pretty big web of influence and deep ties to communities that companies are trying to penetrate. (I would add that today’s big philanthropic players are increasingly attracting more in-house talent with finance, NGO, entrepreneurial and technical backgrounds, to executive on their missions). Key quote:
“Philanthropies that make investments in commercial enterprises must, by definition, prioritize the needs of businesses and clients in equal measure. They are thus ideally situated to help shape responsible industrywide behavioral norms. By investing in India’s urban microfinance sector at its earliest stages, for example, the foundation was able to directly influence standards of behavior and client interactions. In practice, this meant long hours spent in board meetings, advising investees as they managed operational details such as procedures for conducting accurate credit checks of clients who lack documentation of income (in order to guard against over-indebtedness), along with developing internal training sessions and guidelines to govern client interactions, and the like. Building these practices into the industry’s DNA during seed funding has helped to ensure the development of a sector that appropriately balances profit and client well being.”
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The lineup of posts from our series on “Market Dynamics” – that is, how big players in the NGO and business world among others are harnessing markets to improve health care access – has truly been impressive. And last month was no exception. If you haven’t already, please check out How to Be an International Dealmaker: Market nudges are building global vaccine markets by Angela Rastegar Campbell, the founder of Agora Fund, and Ya’ir Aizenman, project leader at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where he focuses on improving the design and delivery and global health interventions.
“Often, the dialogue on how to increase innovation and reduce costs of expensive pharmaceuticals for low-income countries focuses on how much donors should directly subsidize product development. In the past, donors focused on the price and negotiation process rather than considering a broader suite of risk mitigation strategies that can encourage pharmaceutical company interest. A new approach – reducing risk for manufacturers by using donors’ balance sheets and the promise of future purchases – may more effectively entice pharmaceutical companies to enter and compete in the market.”
Thank you to these and all of our contributors in July.
Scott Anderson is the managing editor of NextBillion.