Across the African continent, particularly in rural areas, promoting good community health and wellness to local people remains a challenge. Life-saving products and services don’t do any good unless they get into the hands of the people that need them and know how to use them. Social entrepreneurship venture, Living Goods, is helping to solve the “last mile” problem by recruiting, training, and managing the performance of Community Health Promoters. Monica Masiga in Kenya, and Justine Kiwanuka in Uganda, are two such Living Goods micro-entrepreneurs who are making a difference.
These women micro-preneurs go door-to-door throughout their communities, educating customers and selling affordable life-saving and life-improving products and services, such as simple treatments for malaria and diarrhea, safe delivery kits, fortified foods, clean cook stoves, water filters, and solar lights.
"I like what we do, treating people in their homes, helping the communities. That makes me happy.”
Monica Masiga is a mother, grandmother, and now a health provider to her community - she is also a micro-entrepreneur.
A widow since 1995, Monica has been the sole provider for her 12 children over the past two decades, and amazingly has managed to put them all through secondary school , some even through university. She says: “I would take out loans to pay for school fees, then pay them off, and take another one,” said Monica. “I managed, but it has been difficult.” Monica has farmed on a small scale to meet her daily household food needs, but has never had a formal job or a steady income in the past. However, all that has changed as this bubbly, energetic mother of 12, grandmother of 12, and great grandmother of 2, now at the age of 59 is taking her future well and truly into her own hands as a micro-entrepreneur. She is one of the first class members of the Living Goods Community of Health Promoters to graduate and is now earning a proper income. She says: “I heard about Living Goods, and decided to join because it seemed like something good, something that can get me somewhere. I like what we do, treating people in their homes, helping the communities. That makes me happy.” Today, Monica is a pioneer in Kenya as the country empowers local counties to take charge of their own health systems. As part of this movement, Living Goods recently cut the ribbon on its newest branch in Busia County, Kenya in a novel partnership with the Busia Governor and Minister of Health. Over the next four years it plans to open 18 more branches across Kenya reaching over 1,500 villages. Monica says: “The community will be happy. No more standing in long lines to see a doctor, spending money on transport and, sometimes even going back home without treatment because the lines were too long. Imagine, people will come to me for help, they will be happy to know this old woman who is now a care provider in her home. I am so very happy and excited about starting my work.”
"I feel really good and happy knowing that my products are helping people. I feel that I have had an impact, that I’m doing something for my community.”
Justine Kiwanuka, a Ugandan micro-entrepreneur, delivers fortified foods and other products to the doorsteps of the poor
Justine Kiwanuka is another micro-entrepreneur and a veteran Community Health Promoter in Uganda as part of the Living Goods network. She joined the Ttula branch when the organisation launched there five years ago, and is the branch’s overall best performer. When new products are introduced, such as the recently launched Healthy Start porridge, the Living Goods own label fortified porridge, Justine takes samples to her clients to show them the benefits. Her efforts are already making a difference, not only to her community where ensuring healthy nutrition is a challenge, but also to her own life and her financial independence.
Living Goods supports networks of ‘Avon-like’ health entrepreneurs who go door to door to teach families how to improve their health and wealth and sell life-changing products such as simple treatments for malaria and diarrhea, safe delivery kits, fortified foods, clean cook stoves, water filters, and solar lights. By combining the best practices from business and public health, we are dramatically lowering child mortality AND creating livelihoods for thousands of enterprising women.
Members of the community are also benefitting from her work and the nutrition products she introduces. Local resident, Edward Sempaka, is a father to five children and his youngest child, Anna, has sickle cell disease. He says: “Justine brought me a sample of Healthy Start back in September. The children tried it and told me to buy a new pack from her. Since then, Justine has been bringing me four or five packs every two weeks.” Both Edward and his wife, Betty, say that Anna’s health has improved in the last six months. Justine has known Edward for 20 years. She says: “I have seen Anna grow up, and watched her becoming sicker, she had no appetite. But now there is a good change in her, if you don’t know you could never tell she has sickle cell disease by looking at her today. I feel really good and happy knowing that my products are helping people. I feel that I have had an impact, that I’m doing something for my community.”
Living Goods has a goal to serve 50 million people in the next 10 years by engaging government, NGOs, and funding partners to scale and replicate its model.
To find out more, visit www.livinggoods.org
Why LoA loves it….
Justine Kiwanuka and Monica Masiga are great examples of African women micro-entrepreneurs who are using their understanding of the needs of their communities as the basis of their sales enterprises. Their efforts are making a huge difference - they are not only providing a lifeline to the residents of the communities they live and work in, but they are also educating people to live healthier lives. Their membership of the Living Goods social enterprise network is providing them with a solid and trusted business model that provides them with a life-changing steady income and empowers them as entrepreneurs. This is great social enterprise in action! --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa