"Last-mile distribution models can contribute to women's empowerment, financial inclusion and impact behaviour change in health & hygiene. "

Bukunmi Akinseye
Global Partnerships Manager

Wider reach and deeper social impact through last-mile distribution

Last-mile distribution models represent one of Unilever’s most exciting inclusive business platforms. They can address a broad suite of social impact needs – women’s empowerment, financial inclusion, skills development and training, and even behaviour change in areas such as health and hygiene. And they can meet the critical business need of getting our products to some of the hardest places to reach.

We’ve seen the success of the model, and we’ve seen the potential to unlock even more shared value – which is why we are actively working with others to innovate, cost-share and multiply our impact by making our approach more holistic.

So, as well as expanding the Shakti business model from India to new territories, we have been collaborating with partners to further professionalise our inclusive distribution practice and develop innovative approaches to scale. At the same time, we’re exploring ways in which we can deepen our social impact.

There are several examples of this innovation around the world.

In Ethiopia, we are collaborating with the BOP Innovation Center and social enterprise Kidame Mart to design a new cost-effective, open-basket distribution model – one in which women micro-entrepreneurs sell a mixed basket of products from Unilever and other producers. The Ethiopia model currently includes 400 women.

In Guatemala in 2018, we developed a collaboration with CARE International in which our distribution model is structured to have a specific emphasis on women’s rights and address social barriers to women’s empowerment.

And in countries including Nigeria, Ethiopia and Bangladesh, we’re working on ways to widen the training and support we offer our distribution agents, broadening the impact we can have on whole communities, as well as on individuals’ livelihoods.

Hear more about our initiatives on https://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/enhancing-livelihoods/inclusive-business/empowering-small-scale-retailers-for-growth/

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