Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm started in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Since 2004, the firm has invested close to $500 million in both non-profit and for profit ventures, all of which have a stated mission to catalyze social, economic, and political change. We've written about many of the companies that Omidyar has helped start over the years - Ashoka, Mango, Kiva.org, CouchSurfing, and D.light just to name a few.
For the second time this week, I found myself presented with the "Avon model" of product distribution in Africa. This time, Living Goods' founder Chuck Slaughter did the talking. Living Goods mission is "Empowering micro-entrepreneurs to deliver life-saving and life-changing products to the doorsteps of the poor." In a nutshell, this means they're basically a wholesaler for goods that are currently hard to get a hold of in developing countries - and which also have the potential for "high impact" in terms of improving people's lives.
Items such as nutritional supplements, medicines, basic consumer goods, and so called "pro poor" products like cookstoves are among the variety of items Living Goods offers. Interestingly, by being a wholesaler, Living Goods directly creates micro businesses in the form of people who willing to go door to door selling - the so-called "Avon ladies." Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Living Goods model is almost infinitely scaleable and can be applied to almost any good - thus making life easier for any enterprising company with a live changing product looking for a market.
I sat down with Chuck for a brief interview:
Nick Aster is the founder of TriplePundit.
TriplePundit.com has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place. It was acquired in 2017 by 3BLMedia, the leading news distribution and content marketing company focused on niche topics including sustainability, health, energy, education, philanthropy, community and other social and environmental topics.
Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He also worked for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.
Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.