We made it through 3 all-too-short weeks in India. At the end of week 2, we left Bihar and returned to Delhi. Upon analyzing our data, we found that the Last-Mile-Outrider (LMO) motorcycle program was at a tipping point – it had been able to slowly grow in a highly competitive landscape (pharmaceutical delivery by WHP directly competes with large established incumbent pharmaceutical corporations), and needed to take decisive action in order to grow and reach a minimum self-sustaining size and achieve profitable economies of scale.
Although our team generated a set of actionable recommendations for the LMO program, a part of us wanted to ‘lose’ some paper work, or perhaps a computer would crash. This would buy us at least another week in India, a place that had begun to feel like home. We schemed while consuming possibly unsafe amounts of Indian street food, but alas, no paper work was lost and our cloud storage actually worked for once. Sealing our own fate, we presented our findings to the leadership at WHP. A summary of the recommendations:
Optimize motorcycle routes by:
- Gradually raise sales goal in order to achieve self-sustainability- Improve sales conversion rate by:* Changing the sales model from “visit & sell” to “call & deliver”
in order to reduce non-value generating follow-up visits
* Adapting frequency of visits based on economic order quantity
* Reviewing outlets based on sell-trough and success of 4 verticals
* Test more entrepreneurial approach in 1 district: let LMOs manage all
Implement a structured hiring and training program that:
- Incorporated structured interviews and short exams
- Involves high-performing LMO riders in coaching and mentorship
- Implements a mechanism for anonymous upwards feedback
We have high hopes for not only the LMO program, but WHP’s vision as a whole. Their rapid prototyping approach to implementing self-sustaining, market based public health, has left a strong and positive impression on a rag-tag group of two consultants and a former military officer. We look forward to internalizing the lessons from our project and spreading the word on WHP and the ability for small organizations to make big impacts in the world of development.
And of course, we managed to sneak in some weekend adventures. The first weekend our team pilgrimaged to Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj, in the state of Himachal, in the foothills of the fabled Himalayas. Dharamshala is the home of the Tibetan exile government and our experience was as if we spent a weekend in Tibet itself.On the second weekend, we made a pit stop at the town of Bodh Gaya, in southern Bihar, where we visited the very location that Siddhartha Gautama, otherwise known as Buddha, attained enlightenment over 2500 years ago. Finally, we finished our sight-seeing with the obligatory Taj Mahal visit.