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Press release: New report highlights huge opportunity of last mile distribution sector and explains how it can be captured

One billion people lack access to electricity, 663 million people lack access to clean water, 815 million people are chronically undernourished and 3 billion people lack access to clean cooking facilities around the world. 

Everyday products that are fundamental to a better life such as solar lights, water filters and clean cooking solutions are transformative for poor families, and essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

A new report from development agency Practical Action puts a spotlight on businesses that enable these technologies to reach the poorest – called ‘last mile distributors’ – highlighting the challenges they face which prevent them from operating sustainably. 

Practical Action’s report ‘Solving the Last Mile Distribution Challenge: a call to action from the Global Distributors Collective‘ puts a spotlight on this long neglected sector. The report also details what a collective solution might look like, highlighting the work of the Global Distributors Collective (GDC) that is being incubated by Practical Action.

The report provides guidance and insight from the perspective of over 100 last mile distributors and affiliated organisations on the key challenges faced in the sector and the opportunity to achieve impact through a collective solution.

It is a call for the development ecosystem to ramp up support for last mile distribution, and in doing so, help bring us all closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The GDC is a curator, a ‘one-stop shop’ and community of practice to support the last mile distribution sector. It has three main objectives:

  1. Provide support services to distributors to help them select products, procure stock, train staff, and more
  2. Facilitate match-making and collaboration, enable the exchange of information and expertise, and drive research and innovation
  3. Act as a collective voice to ensure distributors’ voices are heard, helping to attract investment and shape policy.

With an early base of over 100 distribution companies from across Africa, Asia and Latin America helping to shape its aims and objectives, and 30 supporting partners collaborating to provide more effective support to distributors, the GDC is emerging as the leading entity representing the interests and needs of last mile distributors around the world.

Implementing partners include Practical Action, Hystra and BoP Innovation Center, and supporting partners include Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), INSEAD, W-Power, Ashden, Eyelliance, Solar Aid, Frontier Innovations, Livelyhoods, Solar Sister and many more.

Emma Colenbrander from Practical Action, who heads up the GDC said: “The GDC represents an opportunity to impact the world’s poorest and most underserved communities in a way that has never been done before and with tremendous reach and scale.

We’re excited about building a coalition that can translate this opportunity into action.”

Contact GDC@practicalaction.org.uk to learn more and discuss partnership opportunities. 

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