Leverage. Yes, it is a word associated with things that are not particularly well thought of: leveraged-buyouts, over-leveraged, conniving personalities. But in our non-profit world, it is a beautiful word. It is something that we strive to achieve day-in and day-out in advancing our mission to provide critically needed access to healthcare in rural, poverty-stricken communities. I’ve just returned from field visits of the pilot Boticas Similares (BOSI) micro-pharmacies in the state of Puebla, Mexico, and I’m delighted to report that leverage is alive and well in this initiative.
With over 70 micro-pharmacies opened through our Tiendas de la Salud (TISA) initiative (in partnership with Farmacias de la Comunidad and Mercy Corps), we’ve leveraged the knowledge learned in Guatemala to roll-out a similar program in Mexico. A serendipitous meeting at an Impact Investing Conference in Mexico has matured into a partnership between Farmacias Similares (FS – the leader in sales and distribution of generic medicines and health products in Mexico and Latin America) and Linked Foundation (LF). The vibrant energy of Yessica Gonzalez, associate vice president at Farmacias de Similares and Stanford Business School graduate, has made for a well-managed roll-out.
By leveraging FS’s ability to distribute medicines to rural areas, as well as their seasoned franchising expertise, we have eased the process of adapting the model in another country context. Equally, by leveraging the knowledge learned by our experiences from Guatemala, the technical assistance and materials (operations manual, training materials, and business models) provided by Mercy Corps Country Director Peter Loach and his talented team are refined, informed, and on point. Additionally, the shared learning opportunity between the two teams has generated ideas for strengthening the TISA model in Guatemala.
As we continue to support and learn from the BOSI initiative, we are able to refine the model and aim to create a rural pharmacy toolkit that we can take to other parts of the world. In addition, we will be reporting on the experience of partnering with a for-profit entity. Partnerships are critical to scaling-up social impact and our collaboration with Farmacias Similares and Mercy Corps, although early stage, holds much promise. We know that success in our efforts is all about sustainability and scalability, and that by leveraging the tools that we collectively bring to the table, we can have greater impact.
Stay tuned, and in the meantime, please join me in applauding the three courageous women who have stepped forward to own and manage the first BOSI micro-pharmacies!
– Nancy Swanson, Executive Director of Linked Foundation