GDC Innovation Challenge

At the Global Distributors Collective, we believe that:

You, our members, are proven innovators
You already have the knowledge and ideas to crack last mile distribution challenges
Together we can unlock mass scale and bring life-changing products to those who need them most

The GDC Innovation Challenge is a unique opportunity to crowdsource innovations from members, help pilot the best ideas and support other members (and the broader last mile distribution community) to replicate and learn from those innovations.

After a rigorous application and selection process for our first Innovation Challenge (March to June 2019), GDC members voted for the most exciting ideas to pilot. We are pleased to announce the launch of the first two selected ideas. We run webinars for innovation pilots so you can learn from them. Register for the webinars and find out more about the innovation pilots, below – including how you may be able to replicate these in your own business! 

We aim to run additional innovation challenges for other regions and sectors in the future.

Photo credit: Practical Action / Edoardo Santangelo

Bidhaa Sasa: An assessment tool to scale distribution models in new regions

This assessment tool will use lean start-up principles of “experimentation, iteration and learning” to guide last mile distributors in their plans to scale activities.

This approach requires minimum capital and therefore reduces operational risk compared to more traditional, linear approaches to achieving scale.

The tool will help last mile distributors to arrive at an understanding of their readiness to scale, as well as the most appropriate strategy for doing so. It will allow LMDs to manage their own plan for scale and learn from Bidhaa Sasa’s experience of using the tool.

LISTEN TO the latest WEBINAR  


Photo credit: Solar Aid

SolarAid: Energy microfinance cooperative: for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs

FEBCO is an energy cooperative that creates a credit facility by pooling entrepreneurs' own funds to leverage additional funds from external sources. This goes beyond the reach of banks and MFIs, allowing entrepreneurs to access working capital finance at affordable rates and enjoy business support services such as training, tailored apps and peer-to-peer learning.

This idea will equip other GDC members with a how-to-guide to replicate this unique access to finance model, whilst also enabling solar entrepreneurs for SolarAid's social enterprise SunnyMoney, to grow their businesses and extend the reach of their own agent networks




Photo credit: Brian Maasi

Ecobora: Inexpensive ‘rent-a-shelf’ solar retail kiosks

These frugal kiosks allow distributors to track and manage inventory and access data from untapped rural markets. Costing just a few hundred dollars, the kiosks come with solar power and internet, and are built by the community, for the community, using local materials. 

At the kiosks, local women entrepreneurs can sell their agri-produce, and other last mile distributors can ‘rent-a-shelf’ to sell products such as solar lanterns and fast-moving consumer goods.

This idea allows other GDC members to sell through ECOBORA’s kiosks at optimal costs and/or to replicate the solar kiosk model for their own business.





Photo credit: David Brazier

Mwezi: Digital training facility for sales of solar powered drip irrigation system


It's not easy for last-mile distributors to add drip irrigation products to the product mix because it requires very specific knowledge.

Mwezi will develop and pilot a digital training facility for solar drip irrigation with brand-agnostic tools to effectively train their sales teams on how to specify, sell and service appropriate drip irrigation systems to smallholder farmers.

This training facility will be maintained beyond the project period and made available for other GDC members. 




Join our upcoming webinars to find out more about these innovative ideas and how your business may be able to learn or benefit from them to achieve your own objectives.



If you are interested in replicating these ideas or have suggestions on how to improve the suggested innovations, get in touch

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