Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Product Design in Supply Chain: Kit Yamoyo - Innovative Way to Distribute Medicine in Sub-Saharan Africa

Introduction & Relevance

Access to "Essential Medicines" (e.g., antimalarial, diarrheal, HIV/AIDS) in developing nations for the general population remains one of the largest hurdles to improving health status. Even if the non-profit/ private sector funding exists and there is enough impetus to do something, the operational and logistical aspects of the initiative turn away many potential government, NGOs and corporate supporters.


  • A modern road system: non-existent for many countries
  • A network of clinics or stores to provide these medicines: there are no CVS's or Walgreen's
  • How do medicine get transported to the patients in scattered rural villages: trucks, cargo planes?
  • What is the business incentive for all the players involved?
  • Even if the medicines get to the people, how do you make sure that consumers are knowledgable about the medical products?
  • The harsh physical/environmental conditions of these developing countries: tropical, desert
  • Fradulent medical products
Why It's Interesting and Significant

ColaLife and its Kit Yamoyo product attempts to address this issue through innovative design of product packaging. Diarrhea is one of the top killers of children in developing nations. This condition can be easily treated with different therapies like salt rehydration. The way ColaLife is solving the supply chain challenge is by piggy-packing off Coca-Cola. Kit Yamoyo is designed specifically in a way that conveniently fits in the open space of Coca-Cola transport cartons. More African consumers have access to Coca-Cola beverages than life-saving medicine. ColaLife uses the supply chain strategy and the brand of Coca-Cola to quickly gain access to rural populations. Coca-Cola is successful in its product distribution by creating a business incentive for the players involved. This area is quite extensive and beyond the scope of this post but in a quick gist, local entrepreneurs in rural villages make money by establishing a shop/stand that sell Coca-Cola beverages.

The kit is designed to be durable for the environmental conditions. The kit can be reused as a portable cup and functions as a supporting tool for the salt rehydration therapy. There are anti-infective products inside the kit as well, which are important in preventing contamination that leads to diarrhea. There is a ID code to check for fraud.


ColaLife introduced this idea in 2008 and its success is dependent on Coca-Cola saying "yes." So far, Coca-Cola has allowed a pilot to start in 2010 and is still very hesitant. Companies like Coca-Cola are there to make $ for their investors and initiatives like these don't really add onto their bottom line (even the potential, social capital gained from doing a good deed isn't worth it when considering the risks). Given this context, how do groups like ColaLife leverage an established supply chain system of a consumer goods company to be more receptive to projects that have a good social impact but not necessarily a profit incentive? 

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