Top 10 achievements in 2011

2009’s top 10 | 2010’s top 10

1. Co-design of the ColaLife Trial

ColaLife Trial Plan EXEC and Key Diagrams CoverWe first visited Zambia in October 2010 to gauge interest in a trial there of the ColaLife idea. We got an overwhelmingly positive response and so started working with key local partners on a plan. We visited again in January and May to meet with local partners and in June we completed the co-designed trial plan. This was to be the document we’d pitch to funders for support.
>> more on the plan
>> the Zambia audio diary on audioBoo

2. Funding the ColaLife Trial and more

Once we had the plan we had to make it fit into the funding opportunities available to us. It’s at this point that we realised that ‘money talks’. Those with the money call the tune. Although many funders had expressed an interest in what we were doing – and are still interested – many did not have a current programme with criteria that fitted our needs.

Having said this, there is so much interest in what we are doing and we had such a strong plan, raising the funding was fairly straight forward. The whole process was made easier by Johnson & Johnson/Janssen who were the first to commit funding and they did it unconditionally and ‘up front’. This provided us with a huge lever to bring other funders on board. When I told my Mum that Johnson & Johnson were going to support us, she said “Oh, the baby people”. Johnson & Johnson seem an excellent fit for the programme. Honda, through my involvement with them as ‘Cultural Engineer’ pledged a vehicle early on and SABMiller – an implementation partner – will not be charging for their input into the trial so that was $60,000 we did not have to raise.

We applied for funding from Comic Relief and the DfID Global Poverty Action Fund (London) and were shortlisted for both. But then, DfID Zambia came up with the remaining funding we needed. They are the majority funder of the trial. So by October 2011 we had the trial fully funded. But that’s not all . . .

Our plan, once the trial was underway, was to fund-raise to enable us to follow-up on the interest there is in ColaLife in other African countries. We also needed an accountable body to handle the funding from DfID on our behalf. COMESA offered to provide accountable body services at no cost to the trial and COMESA’s TMSA Programme agreed to provide funding to cover the development work and provide Jane and I with office space and office service support.

The amounts raised are as follows:

Trial (DfID, J&JCCT, Honda and SABMiller): £840,000
Development work (TMSA): £101,000
Accountable body services (TMSA): £ no charge
Office space and office services (TMSA): £ no charge

3. Winning a global health innovation award

MMHEALTH Winners' BadgeIn December the three winners of the Boehringer Ingelheim/Ashoka Changemakers ‘Making More Health’ award were announced and ColaLife was one of them. We were chosen through public vote from the 13 finalists announced in November 2011.

There were more than 470 entries for the award which were received from 82 countries. These were said to represent the most innovative and promising solutions from around the globe that are transforming the field of health. Finalists were selected by the competition’s panel of expert judges, which included Aman Bhandari of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Carol A. Dahl, executive director of The Lemelson Foundation, and Andreas Barner, Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors for Boehringer Ingelheim.

The award comes with a prize of $10,000 (US). This represents unrestricted funding for us which means we can spend it how we like to strengthen ColaLife the organisation.

Of course the other thing that comes with an award like this is credibility. In the award process ColaLife has been scrutinised by a small army of experts and then voted for by the general public. What better endorsement can there be for what we are doing than that?
>> more on the award

4. Charity set-up and registration

ColaLife Charity Number
ColaLife’s Charity Number
Having consulted widely and agonised on whether to seek charitable status for ColaLife we decided this was the best option and our registration with the Charity Commission for England and Wales was approved on 22/6/11. The main driver for this move was the reassurance that charitable status would give to funders. Indeed, many of the funder in this space will only funded registered charities.

Preparing from this was a huge undertaking and required the commitment of a lot of people. We are particularly grateful to Allen & Overy’s CSR Team for helping us through this process and to our trustees for their commitment. Our trustees are:

  • Andy Chapman (Chair)
  • Joanna Knowles (Hon Treasurer)
  • Rob Ellis
  • Simon Burne

5. Moving to Zambia

With funding falling into place and excitement mounting at the prospect of actually being able to run an independently evaluated trial in Zambia it was decision time for Jane and I. We had to move to Zambia where the implementation partners had asked us to follow through our lead on the co-design, and manage the trial. We decided to do this in three phases: packing up and moving out of our home of 20 years; spending time as guests of family and friends; moving to Zambia.

Moving out

We would never have completed step one if it hadn’t been for the small army of friends who rallied around to help us pack up our home. The picture shows those who were there at the bitter end of the move-out, 1 hour before handing over to tenants.

6. D2D bike ride

D2D Cyclists Banner

While we were involved in the turmoil of the move, two ColaLife supporters – Nigel and Bill – were cycling along the north coast of France from Dinard to Deauville (D2D) to raise funding for ColaLife. Nigel, who is the MD of The World’s Best Hotels, is ColaLife’s biggest fund-raiser. Between them Nigel and Bill raised £4,000 on the ride. Thank you Nigel and Bill. Look out for 2012’s E2E ride!
>> more on the D2D ride

7. Re-selection as one of Honda’s Cultural Engineers

I was very pleased to be re-selected as one of Honda’s Cultural Engineers. As well as being fun it’s also inspiring to engage with the other Cultural Engineers and has helped ColaLife reach new audiences. Honda have run articles in Hello! Magazine and The Sunday Observer on each of the Cultural Engineers. Honda have also pledged to provide a vehicle for the ColaLife Trial in Zambia.
>> more on Honda’s Dream Factory and the Cultural Engineers

8. Presentations World Tour!

We may not have earnt any money this year but Jane and I have travelled presenting the ColaLife story to everyone who has invited us and offered to pay our fare.

  • Feb – Medical innovations presentation, Royal Society of Medicine. UK
  • Feb – Innovation presentation, Central Saint Martins Innovation MA, UK
  • Mar – Bristol University International Development Conference, UK
  • Mar – NESTA workshop, UK
  • Mar – Can coca-Cola Save Lives? Ravensbourne Late presentation, UK
  • Mar – Southampton University International Development Conference, UK
  • May – Various presentations/events around the World economic Forum, Cape Town
  • May – Responsible Business Conference, London Business School, UK
  • Jun – New African Connections, Public Private Partnerships Presentation, Oslo (NORAD)
  • Nov – Presentation to the Sangonet ICT4D conference, Johannesburg

9. Global stakeholder engagement

ARK logo GAVI LogoCHAI logoUnicef_logoEAWAG Logo

In the process of developing the ColaLife concept online and blogging about our experience putting the trial plan together we have got noticed by some very powerful and influential organisations. I am pleased to say that we now have strong links with many key global organisations including the GAVI Alliance, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), UNICEF in New York and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG). These links and others will be very important when it comes to the roll-out of the bits of the ColaLife idea that work.

10. Publications

The Lancet Logo BW
Hello Magazine logo

We have spotted 182 independent online articles that have mentioned ColaLife this year – that’s more than 3 per week. In addition, we have broken into the mainstream paper-based media. Thanks to Honda, we’ve had a full page article in Hello! Magazine and we’ve been featured in The Sunday Observer Magazine.

In September a thematic report – Innovating for Every Woman, Every Child – was published by the UN’s Every Woman, Every Child initiative (EWEC) looking at innovation in the areas of child and maternal health. The report was published, as a peer reviewed report, and distributed through The Lancet.

What I’m really looking forward to though, is the publication of the results of the ColaLife trial in The Lancet in a couple of years time!

>> Download a more detailed Supporters’ Summary Report (PDF, 250 KB)

A big thank you to everyone who has supported ColaLife throughout 2011. We are making great progress. We couldn’t do it without our supporters. You are the foundation of everything!

Onwards and upwards.


  1. Congratulations #colalife Top 10 achievements in 2011 via @51m0n

  2. Fab success story. When ideas turn into reality: @51m0n & @colalife Top 10 achievements in 2011 via @sounddelivery