Over the last 2 weeks, I both worked on 2 main axes: Building a procurement process and foster good work practices with my colleagues on one side and developing Market research as well as testing Marketing actions to push up sales with the team on the other side.
Regarding procurement, I created a tier meeting dashboard (inspiration from GSK Belgium lean processes!) in order to make our week agenda more visible but also to create conversation exchanges with the Store officer and Procurement officer: indeed, it will help better anticipating the need in terms of restocking, liaising with the sales team, highlighting the key priorities on products, measuring products profit evolution and identifying easily some actions with key suppliers as well as escalating major issues. For example, we were out of stock of GSK Medlemon product. This is really bad as we are missing major sales opportunities: indeed, this is the peak of flu and colds here due to winter season. Children are sick and our Community Health Entrepreneurs absolutely need to restock such medicine. The same happens to our cough syrup. We took immediate action by calling the GSK Distributor in order to speed up the restocking and also we contacted GSK South Africa directly to get other distributors ‘names: we finally found an alternative to our current distributor that has the product in stock! Perfect, we will be able to help the communities and mainly children in getting the product soon to recover from the flu! We also started reviewing the suppliers list in order to simplify it and make sure that keep some competition for product category. Then, we will plan to renegotiate prices and maybe set up some frame agreements…
On the sales side, I joined the sales team on the field in the compounds and proposed 2 simple marketing actions: take a tray and a basket with us and display a sample of each product to all our Healthcare agents. Therefore, it will create more visibility on our products and remind our agents how large is our products baskets. And it worked: some agents look at all products, touch them and finally purchased more items than they initially intended to! The second action was to focus the sales on a specific product (called “Product of the week”) by giving a kind of refresher on the product benefits and highlights and distributing some brochures to the communities: as a consequence, it should increase product awareness! I think it fostered some interest… Let’s see and measure sales impact in the coming weeks!
I also traveled by bus to Live Well other office (it was the worst experience in my life with such a crowded stinky bus stopping all times with people getting on off with millions of bags, all this with a duration of more than 12 hours!). I shared the sales practices we developed in Lusaka capital with the sales team. Then, I joined them on the field to pursue my market survey with the Healthcare agents in order to compare statistics between Zambia Eastern Province and Lusaka capital. In the morning, there was a drama play in the remote areas! People in the villages love it as there are very few entertainments in these rural areas. See below the first video with music: this is the only way to call people for the drama, coming from the surrounding bush! The second video is an extract from the play showing the importance of taking care of your health by introducing medicines and making people aware of them.
Last but not least, apart from the toughest bus experience, I stepped out to Malawi for the long weekend (national day in Zambia) in order to discover one of the biggest lakes of Africa… I can confirm this is like the sea. I slept in an amazing lodge with great staff (I was alone then a second American client came in) who took care of me for every single request. Indeed, Malawi is known for being the most friendly country of Africa: I can only over confirm such kindness and huge smiles on their faces! But it is unfortunately also one of the poorest country in the world and also with one of the highest HIV infection rate. My lodge was gorgeous with all the African ethnic decoration with a balcony overlooking the lake: what a view! And every morning, I was awake by the nice sound of the waves from the Lake (like a sea!). I was so happy to see some water and being able to practice some water activities like snorkeling (amazing electric blue fishes), kayaking and swimming all day long. I also had some fish for lunch and dinner (which I miss a lot… because in Lusaka, I do not dare the meat and fish and only eat eggs). I refilled energy before going back to Lusaka, a city with no water view, dusty and noisy!
And on the way back, I got stopped several times by the police for passport control and started to get stressed as one of them kept my passport and wanted some money in exchange. This is also another side of being the poorest country: corruption is everywhere in Malawi… After insisting a lot that I do not accept corruption, they finally gave my papers back.