Coca-Cola and partners now working together to improve the distribution and marketing of critical medicines in multiple countries

The innovative Project Last Mile initiative, that helps African governments get vital medicines and supplies the “last mile” to hard-to-reach communities, is expanding its support into additional countries, including new early stage work in Nigeria. This builds on the previously announced countries of Tanzania, Mozambique and Ghana.

Project Last Mile, launched in 2010, is a collaboration among The Coca-Cola Company, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, The Global Fund, USAID and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This initiative applies the Coca-Cola system’s logistic, supply chain and marketing expertise to help strengthen health systems across Africa. Through Project Last Mile efforts, government agencies learn about Coca-Cola’s business model, and through these learnings, are able to more efficiently deliver critical vaccines, medicines and medical supplies; market the availability of these supplies thus creating demand; and maintain coolers to ensure the medicines and vaccines are stored at the correct temperatures.

“Project Last Mile is a powerful, solutions-driven partnership that is addressing global health challenges,” said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “It’s a great example of collaborative success, and we are identifying more solutions like this through the Global Fund’s new Innovation Hub.”

Being strongly driven by local needs, Project Last Mile is at various stages of development in each of the countries where it is being implemented. A significant new project is also being launched in Mozambique, building on previous success, which will support the Ministry of Health in the implementation of a new Supply Chain strategy across the country. 

“We’re committed to doing our part to help strengthen communities across Africa, combining our efforts with the expertise of partners like the Global Fund, USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that focus on innovation and solutions for public health challenges,” said Bea Perez, Coca-Cola’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “It’s critical that business, civil society and government come together to share unique expertise and drive powerful change in communities. We’re honored to share our experience from doing business in Africa for more than 85 years.”

In 2014 the partners committed to investing more than $21 million USD and significant in-kind resources to implement Project Last Mile to reach a total of 10 African countries by 2020. Examples of early results from Tanzania, Ghana and Mozambique include:

  • In Tanzania, forecasting accuracy has increased and stock outages of medicine and medical supplies have decreased. In some areas where the initiative has been implemented, the availability of critical medicine has increased by 30 percent.
  • Tanzania, geocoded software has helped identify the most efficient delivery schedules and routes from warehouses to clinics, generating significant savings in delivery costs.
  • In Tanzania, stronger human resources models have been implemented, including using clear job descriptions and a performance management system.
  • In Ghana, Coca-Cola’s refrigeration repair and purchasing programs have modeled improved maintenance systems and routines.
  • In Mozambique, previous work between the local bottler, Coca-Cola Sabco, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative increased efficiency and reliability for the delivery of medicines from provincial warehouses to health facilities and districts, especially antiretrovirals. This laid the foundation for a significant new supply chain project launching in 2016 with Project Last Mile.

In addition to the four founding partners, Project Last Mile leverages the complementary expertise and resources of the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute, and the Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF). PLM also taps into the Coca-Cola ecosystem of suppliers and service providers to leverage their input and specialized skills, just as they support Coca-Cola’s business in Africa.