The Cola Road

What if one of the most distributed products in the world could be turned into a distribution network of essential medicines?

You can buy Coca-Cola virtually anywhere in developing countries, but in these same places 1 in 9 children die before their 5th birthday from simple, preventable causes like dehydration from diarrhea. This is a massive distribution network that is perhaps unparalleled by any other brand. It’s interesting though that in some countries Coca-Cola has a bad stigma. When I was in Sri Lanka working with the organization Future in Our Hands, we spent a full day in the sun interviewing local farmers. Late in the afternoon, all I could think of was of a cold drink. We stopped at a small grocery shop, and I asked for a cold Coke. The men who were with me immediately inquired why I was going to drink that. Unaware of the implications, I said I liked it. Then, they asked me how I could drink an alcoholic drink in the middle of the day (their religion did not approve alcoholic drinks). Not understanding the question, I tried to explain that I was only going to drink Coke, not a mixed drink. Then, they said that Coke was an alcoholic drink. I could drink any other soda; except Coke. I ended up settling for a warm bottle of water.

We were in the middle of Sri Lanka, in a small rural village of perhaps no more than 500, and even though Coke was available, several others were lacking.

That’s exactly the premise behind ColaLife, an organization which has the same principles and uses networks that Coca-Cola and other commodity producers use, to open up private sector supply chains for ‘social products’ such as oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements. Whilst ColaLife seeks to work with corporates to bring about social change, the organization is not affiliated with any other company and their work does not imply an endorsement of any product or brand.

Seems like something Amazon could help out as well…