Centralizing business operations can improve efficiency, but it can also hinder a company's ability to innovate and tailor products for local markets. Mahesh Yagnaraman at Acumen shares how two companies used their decentralized models to quickly address COVID-19's challenges and adjust their offerings accordingly. He explores how these agile models can better identify the needs of their communities, no matter how remote, and reach them effectively.
Creating Sustainable Last-Mile Distribution for Beneficial Products: Two Network Archetypes (and How They Can Scale Up)
Last-mile distributors (LMDs) are critical to getting beneficial goods to underserved populations in hard-to-reach areas. Lucie Klarsfeld McGrath of Hystra and the Global Distributors Collective shares the results of a detailed analysis of these crucial distributors, which fall into two archetypes: local livelihood LMDs and dedicated salesforce LMDs. She explains the characteristics of each group and discusses what they bring to manufacturers, service providers, funders and other organizations looking to work at the last mile.
The Big Impact of Small Improvements: How Last-Mile Distributors Have Responded to COVID-19 with ‘Incremental Innovation’
Distributing beneficial products in last-mile communities has always been difficult, but COVID-19 has made it much harder, exacerbating many of the challenges that last-mile distributors were already facing. Emma Colenbrander and Gerwin Jansen at the Global Distributors Collective explore innovative solutions to some of these challenges, many of which have tended to be incremental rather than radical.
Social enterprises at the last mile are working relentlessly to close the gap in achieving the SDGs. But since their customers are generally underprivileged, they're also very sensitive to a product’s price, which means boosting efficiency is key to increasing these businesses' profitability. Thibault Lesueur and Simon Schaffner at Solaris Offgrid explore how process digitalization and interoperable software systems can streamline last-mile distribution and help these enterprises scale.
COVID-19 is creating major challenges for last-mile distributors around the world. And though these businesses are both nimble and resilient, they urgently need financial and technical support. Emma Colenbrander at the Global Distributors Collective explores how investors, NGOs and other stakeholders can help the sector to survive this crisis, and to continue to deliver impact as the pandemic subsides.
Beyond the Bottom Line: How Changing the Supplier-Distributor Dynamic Creates Better Products for People Living in Poverty
A good relationship between suppliers and distributors is crucial when doing business in challenging markets. But in too many cases, these relationships are purely transactional, one-way and unresponsive, say Sahil Khanna at Greenlight Planet and Murli Padmanabhan at Pollinate Group. They explore how their organizations have avoided this pitfall in creating a true partnership that allows them to distribute solar products more effectively to their customers.