Logistimo at the 2013 Development Dialogue in Hubli

Logistimo at the 2013 Development Dialogue in Hubli

Last month we had the privilege of participating in the 2013 Development Dialogue, generously hosted by the Deshpande Foundation (DF) in Hubli, Karnataka. DF’s “Sandbox” is one of the best kept secrets in global social enterprise, and the annual conference is the most legitimate of its kind because it caters less to investor noise, and instead focuses on practical ways to nurture and grow entrepreneurship towards ambitious social goals in the the world’s toughest settings. The early morning site visits also make for a hands-on experience for folks who attend from around the globe.

In 2009, Deshpande Foundation sponsored us to perform field research and analysis of rural supply chains, with a special focus on private-sector pharmacists retailing essential medicines in extremely remote villages. The study encompassed hundreds of rural shops across 9 districts of northern Karnataka. We analyzed stocking methods and replenishment patterns of 15 World Health Organization-designated essential medicines, and examined the technologies and management behaviors prevalent amongst village chemists. Our findings indicated a willingness to adopt inventory control methods, and a high degree of comfort among chemists using mobile phones for this purpose. The first phase of the study culminated in a report titled, “Inventory Control Problems of Rural Pharmacies in North Karnataka in 2009”. The insights encouraged us to seek a solution to empower these micro-entrepreneurs to overcome physical, economic and social constraints.

The final six months of the study dove deeper into the supply chain opportunities that could be captured using mobile technology. Logistimo tracked daily stocking, replenishment and sales activities; and applied operations research maths to those data to uncover logistical opportunities for performance improvement and profit. The feedback was very promising; in many cases, pharmacies could use optimized recommendations to increase revenues by over 25%. These findings encouraged us to embark on the long journey towards designing, engineering and deploying a web service aimed at improving the lives of folks living in rural and tribal regions.

Although Logistimo has enjoyed media and academic recognition over the years, we often remember our start in the Sandbox region, and the genuine encouragement and support from Desh & Jaishree Deshpande.