How to partner with the private sector: Lessons from CARE International

Robson, one of the Live Well Community Health Entrepreneurs, visits some customers. Photo by: Jason Mulikita / CARE

LONDON — When world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, they were clear in Goal 17 —  “Revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development” — that success required civil society to partner with the private sector and governments. Before the SDGs were agreed, banking firm Barclays and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) had already formed a business-to-business partnership in 2013, which aimed to enable people in rural Africa to access affordable health care, to promote economic development, and to explore ways of bringing products and services to new customers. To do this, the companies realised they needed the help of an NGO.

The journey taken by the Barclays GSK Partnership is explained in a report published earlier this year by independent assessor Accenture Strategy. The companies committed 3 million pounds each to the three-year partnership. It began with several experimental projects that resulted in the Live Well program in Zambia. The partners then chose NGO CARE International to help set-up and run its Live Well Social Business Ltd.

Live Well recruits and trains community health entrepreneurs, who sell health care products as part of a basket of goods (half of which are GSK branded) in rural and semi-rural regions. To date, Live Well has sold more than 120,000 health care products and has trained more than 400 entrepreneurs in employment or business skills with the support of Barclays’ Ready to Work initiative. And the project has reached an average 45,000 people each month. Live Well’s former Managing Director Charles Kalonga said that as a result, “there are fewer people being treated in public health facilities for things like diarrhea, coughs and headaches. It is providing health care products that people in communities simply could not get before.”

For its part, CARE International provided essential on-the-ground knowledge and capacity. In return, it received market-based help to achieve a sustainable program that delivered the charity’s pre-existing objectives of helping communities access health products and boosting livelihoods.

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About the author

  • Gabriella jozwiak profile

    Gabriella Jóźwiak

    Gabriella Jóźwiak is an award-winning journalist based in London. Her work on issues and policies affecting children and young people in developing countries and the U.K. has been published in national newspapers and magazines. Having worked in-house for domestic and international development charities, Jóźwiak has a keen interest in organizational development, and has worked as a journalist in several countries across West Africa and South America.