ColaLife shortlisted for the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards

FT/IFC Business Transformation Awards

We are delighted to announce that ColaLife has been shortlisted (1 of 3) for the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards in the Health category. Our funding partner, the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizen Trust, proposed and put in the entry.

The awards showcase ground-breaking business initiatives that create long-term, transformative solutions to environmental, social and corporate governance challenges. This year there were 237 entries from 214 institutions in 61 countries. 36 made it onto the shortlist.

So what’s transformational about ColaLife’s work and the J&J partnership?
From the outset, J&J backed ColaLife’s rather unusual strategy: to use donor funding to carry out the kind of research and development into a new health commodity (Kit Yamoyo), that local small pharmaceutical companies in developing countries often cannot afford, with the intention of passing on learning to partners – including the local private sector. J&J were interested in what we would learn – but were more than happy for us to share that learning more widely.  The Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust were the first to pledge ‘seed corn’ funding – and sponsor Janssen EMEA put us through a ‘Dragon’s Den’ type challenge in 2010/11, which helped question our early plans and knock them into shape – as well as offering expertise across the J&J ‘family’ of businesses. Their unconditional funding allowed us to support our private sector partner in Zambia, Pharmanova, with the practicalities of manufacturing and assembly of Kit Yamoyo, as well as supporting other ‘riskier’ elements of the trial, such as the voucher scheme.  The resulting wide-ranging partnership is a true ‘unlikely alliance’ – including UNICEF, the Zambian Ministry of Health, SABMiller (the local Coca-Cola bottler) and very small not-for-profit organisations like Keepers Zambia Foundation. We have managed to capitalise on the expertise of each partner, demonstrating that collective social impact can be developed by joining forces with a range of large and very small stakeholders, to rethink access to medicine at the last mile, a responsibility that transcends different sectors. The resulting model of delivering ORS/Zinc to rural areas has challenged the status quo and holds promises to make better use of the local private sector to manufacture, supply and retail medicines in rural areas across the world: a strategy we are keen to pursue, to improve child survival, local skills, expertise and employment.

Who are we up against?
There are two other initiatives shortlisted in the health category:

  1. Operation ASHA, India. This is a huge, award-winning project combatting TB in India.
  2. SIDA (with USAID, Norway, DfID, CIFF, CHAI, and The Gates Foundation) – I’m not sure which project this is but it could be this one

DfID will be pleased as they are involved in two of the three shortlisted projects: ours and the SIDA project.

We have a lot in common with Operation Asha:

  1. We are both rolling out a WHO recommended treatment/process with some innovation mixed in
  2. ColaLife and Operation ASHA are evidence-based interventions
  3. Both are using technology creatively
  4. We’ve both been featured on the BBC – here’s Peter Day’s take on ColaLife – Peter is the BBC’s Global Business Correspondent
  5. We’ve both won other awards (here are ours)
  6. Bill Gates has tweeted about ColaLife and Operation Asha!

The winners will be announced at the award ceremony on 12 June 2014.