Live Well Social Enterprise: Bringing health and opportunity to the doorsteps of Zambians

Elesia Mshanga demonstrating toothbrushing practices, Bwanunkha community, Chadiza District

In 2015, CARE, Barclays and GSK created a partnership to set up a social enterprise in Zambia called Live Well, that specialises in health services for under-served communities by investing in the livelihoods and performance of community health workers and building their capacity as community health entrepreneurs (CHEs).The enterprise also receives valued support from health-focused NGO Living Goods through a seconded role within the enterprise.   

Currently, two billion people globally lack access to medicines and by 2035, the world will face an estimated shortfall of 13 million frontline health workers. The challenges are especially pervasive in Africa. Zambia is no stranger to these challenges. With a physician ratio of 0.2 per 1,000 people, and the country’s size and infrastructure, many people are simply out of reach of health facilities. The Zambian health system relies on tens of thousands of community health volunteers who lack sustainable sources of income themselves but are the foot-soldiers in community health.

Alice Lungu selling tooth products
Alice Lungu from Chipata Compound, Lusaka District, selling in her community

Live Well addresses a real need at household level by providing training and support to a network of CHEs who serve as the frontline health workers in their communities. Each successful candidate who applies to become a Live Well CHE receives training on business skills, financial management, basic healthcare and product knowledge so they can sell health products and provide information to their communities. Through this CHEs have the opportunity to generate a supplementary income by earning a small profit margin on sales.

Live Well has trained over 400 CHEs. Through this network the enterprise currently serves a total of 20 communities and is reaching on average 45,000 people each month with health products and information.  

Live Well is strengthening the national health system by offering a sustainable way of generating income and motivating incentives for these otherwise unpaid workers who play a critical role in community health promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

Live Well sales officer delivering products
A Live Well sales officer delivering products to CHEs

Barclays and GSK have donated £1.7m in total as a grant fund to set up the social enterprise and have provided valuable skills and expertise, including seconding a team on the ground in Zambia. GSK have committed to supporting the business until May 2018.   

This is an innovative partnership that brings together skills from the private, not-for-profit and social enterprise sectors. Each partner brings valuable expertise, combining CARE’s ability to work with remote communities living in poverty and Barclays and GSK’s understanding of consumer health markets, supply chains and establishing new businesses; and Living Goods’ social enterprise expertise. In 2017 the partnership was recognised publicly after being selected as a finalist for the 2016 Business in the Community Responsible Business Awards.

Live Well continues to develop and is seeking additional partnerships/investors to help achieve sustainability, increase impact in Zambia and ultimately scale. For more information on how companies can get involved, please contact the Live Well Managing Director, Chikwe Mbweeda or visit the website www.livewellzambia.com

Live Well entrepreneur delivering products
A Live Well CHE delivering vital products directly to communities

The model we have set up with Barclays and GSK is a much more sustainable way of working between corporates and NGOs. We are creating a business, which will ultimately have a greater long-term impact than if it was just a donor model. – Laurie Lee, CEO CARE International UK

GSK and Barclays both believe that the long-term success of our business is linked to the wellbeing of the communities in which we operate, which is why we jointly committed to explore new businesses models to deliver societal and commercial value to rural Africa. We always knew that we would need to include the expertise and insight of an NGO. CARE was an obvious choice for us due to their experience of working in hard-to-reach communities, knowledge of Zambia and expertise in setting up social enterprises. – Sarah Pasternak, Director, Market Access Programmes, GSK

We set ourselves big goals in a very complex market. I think the key lesson is that we need to start small, build some momentum, learn and then have the confidence that we can scale. – Aisling Quirke, Head of Global Development Organisations, Barclays Africa and Board member of Live Well

Live Well has inspired me to look at my future. I recently inherited land so I’d like to use my profits from being a Community Health Entrepreneur to build an orphanage. People have helped me so I want to help others and being a CHE can help me to do this. – Theresa Mulenda (pictured below)

Live Well CHE Theresa Mulenda + logo