Chuck Slaughter is an American business man making a difference in the lives of many in Uganda. By using the business model developed by Avon, Slaughter has helped transform the lives of thousands of women across the east African republic.
Avon, meaning the make-up business. Not Barksdale from The Wire.
It struck Slaughter, 50, as remarkable that Avon had grown into a $10 billion business by selling things that aren’t vital for day-to-day living. He began to wonder what might happen if he used the same model to deliver products that people desperately need.
So using the direct-selling methods developed by Avon, he set up a not-for-profit medical company called Living Goods.
“Avon is very much a direct inspiration. Much to my surprise, I found out it started in the 19th century in rural America and of course, when we think about the developing world today, it’s a lot like that,” Slaughter said. “You had women who needed a source of income, but there was no employment economy and you had these very tight social connections.”
Living Goods is also combating the counterfeit drug market in the area.
“The street price of some life-saving drugs can be 300 percent to 400 percent of the manufacturing cost,” he explained. By aggregating the buying power, the company can ensure quality drugs at a fair price.
But not only that, he’s offering people a sense of worth and accomplishment. One example is Sauda Baubidia, a 28 year old Ugandan that works with Living Goods.
“People know me as a hero because I have saved them,” she said. “I saved lives for their kids.”
Similar to Avon, the people working for Living Goods purchase the products at a discount and then make a profit by selling it. Baubidia explained that during the rainy season, malaria drugs are much needed. “I have a promotion of malaria and diarrhea and when I brought my medicine it was really working and it was really cheap,” Baubidia said. She is able to sell the drugs for a seventh of the market price.
From microfinance to “micro-pharmaceuticals”, Living Goods is on its way to becoming a game changer.