Research and insights

The Global Distributors Collective works to provide a collective voice for the last mile distribution sector, and to increase stakeholders’ understanding of the vital role that last mile distributors play in alleviating global poverty and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Key to this is generating evidence and insights to offer a unique window into the challenges, priorities and opportunities faced by distributors and the support they need to thrive. For more information, see our recent publications below.

Finding the sweet spot: identifying affordable quality solar products for the last mile

This report brings together the Global Distributors Collective’s key findings from six months of research on the quality of best-selling non-quality-verified (non-QV) off-grid solar products in Kenya. It identifies non-QV products that are close to meeting the Lighting Global Quality Standards, while remaining highly price-competitive with leading products in the market today. The report’s findings will help distributors, and the off-grid sector as a whole, to identify products in a ‘price-quality sweet spot’ to better serve customers at the last mile.

Last Mile Distribution: State of the sector report

Based on a survey of 72 GDC members from 30+ countries, as well as a series of expert interviews, this first-of-its-kind report highlights the vital role of last mile distributors (LMDs) in creating markets for beneficial products and effectively reaching last mile customers. It contains a wealth of new data and insights and provides tangible recommendations for stakeholders on how to engage with and support the sector.

  • A snapshot of last mile distributors surveyed

  • Key recommendations

    Aid agencies and foundations can play a vital role in providing flexible grants and rewarding companies for going the ‘extra last mile’ that more commercial players do not serve, as well as in de-risking commercial investment in the sector.

    Investors are encouraged to build the data and experience needed to invest in LMDs either directly, or through specialist intermediaries. Particular efforts must be made to overcome the barriers that local LMDs face when raising funds, particularly debt, to capitalise on their exceptional local market knowledge and networks.

    LMDs need more opportunities to learn from and collaborate with each other, to unlock economies of scale (e.g. in developing joint training materials or ordering shared containers of products) and implement best practices.

    Manufacturers should ramp up efforts to design and test products in consultation with LMDs and their customers, and to build long-term strategic partnerships with them.

    Service providers such as software and training companies could both help the sector and tap into a new market by developing low-cost, tailored platforms and services that LMDs need to thrive.

    Governments must recognise the role of LMDs in contributing to development goals, and ensure they are included in dialogue between the public and private sectors.

This material has been funded by UK aid from the British government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.