Living Goods

Thoughout the year MAMA features a new organization that has downloaded our messages and is using mobile technology to improve maternal, newborn and child health. This Community Spotlight is on Living Goods in Uganda.
 
 
 
Background
 
Living Goods operates networks of micro-entrepreneurs who go door-to-door selling a wide range of life-changing products, including treatments for malaria and diarrhea, fortified foods, clean cook stoves, and solar lights. 
 
Simple phones are quickly becoming the single most transformative tool for our success. We built an end-to-end mobile platform designed to drive demand, increase access, and reduce costs for delivering products that save and change lives. 
 
We’re building a powerful client database across the regions we serve - to date, we have over 35,000 numbers in Uganda. We’re leveraging that database and the speed and efficiency of mobile to drive better health through services such as real-time treatment reminders, community agents on call, and pregnancy and child care messages. 
 
Use of MAMA messages 
 
We used MAMA’s maternal health messages to inspire our set of automated SMS messages for pregnant women and new mothers – our ‘Happy Baby’ service.  Once enrolled by their agents, clients receive automated weekly stage and age appropriate SMS messages to encourage a healthy pregnancy and delivery. 
 
To support our agents on the ground and increase their sales, we end several messages with a clear call to action including the name and mobile number of the client’s agent. We integrate specific product recommendations that support a healthy pregnancy, like iron and folate, clean burning cook stoves, and safe delivery kits - all available through our agents - into the messages. 
 
Example: Dizziness, headaches, tiredness are all symptoms of low iron. Take a daily iron supplement. Need iron? Call Living Goods (Nakamya Rebecca 0774862596). 
 
We also include MAMA’s educational messages on how to attain a healthy pregnancy and emotionally engaging messages to keep our clients interested and engaged in the service throughout their pregnancy and beyond. 
 
In less than one year, since our use of MAMA messages began, over 7,300 pregnant women have been registered. 
 
 
Nanyanzi Harriet, a Living Goods agent in Nsangi, Uganda, with two of her clients. Harriet registered them both to receive the ‘Happy Baby’ SMS Service.
Both appreciated the service and are proud to show off their healthy newborns. Nahura Sharon (left) said it was like “having a hospital at home”.   Photo Credit: Tine Frank
 
Challenges
 
Our system is dependent upon agents collecting and uploading client information via SMS, but when we began we found that basic texting was still foreign to many agents. To increase agent usage, we provided intensive training and an incentive scheme to drive adoption. In addition, many agents shared phones with their family members and did not always carry them in the field – making it difficult to register clients on the spot. In response, we offered our agents financing for a good-quality, low-price phone - more than 40 percent of agents bought one. 
 
Future Plans 
 
Our mobile system is a key component to reaching program sustainability. It empowers our agents to earn more, dramatically lowers our cost to market and monitor, enables real time salesforce management and improves our health impacts. 
 
No single organization can solve the problems we confront at the scale they exist today. In that spirit, we established a separate division exclusively dedicated to providing consulting support and tools to help our partner organizations learn from, optimize, and deploy Living Goods inspired micro-franchise systems.
 
Learn more at http://livinggoods.org/.
 
Inspired by their innovative program?  Download the MAMA messages for yourself by requesting access.

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