How the Avon Lady Improved Income in Bangladesh by 31% by Emily Janoch
The Avon Lady in rural Bangladesh: it’s actually a more apt metaphor than you think. Avon uses a direct sales model that aims to get products to people who would not normally be able to access them, and that’s exactly what Krishi Utsho is—a way to get products closer to people.
Instead of selling makeup, they’re selling fertilizer, feed, and veterinary services. They may be getting more beautiful cows (IFPRI refers to some of these approaches as the “pampered cow project”), but the real impact is on the farmers. With the support of the Finn Brooks Family Foundation, they’ve been working since 2012 to improve access to goods for the poorest families in Bangladesh.
What did we accomplish?
- Higher Incomes: Farmers in areas covered by Krishi Utsho had a 31% increase in their incomes, and vendors were able to earn $1,394 per month. That’s more than 8 times what the average farmer makes in a month, so being a vendor is an attractive option.
- Cheaper, easier access to products: Because the shops are closer to home, farmers cut the time they spent going to get inputs in half (a 58% reduction), and dropped their cost on items like feed by 92%. So people have more money to spend from income, but also on savings from the goods.
- Stronger businesses: Besides the income, shop owners saw a 25% increase in their sales—and now they’re serving nearly 17,000 people a month.
- Healthier families: Farmers in Krishi Utsho areas increased their spending on protein and vegetables by 15%, so they have better diets. 56% of families increased their spending on health care and education with the new money they had available.
- More empowered women: in Krishi Utsho areas, women were 84% more likely to be able to influence household decisions in 2015 than they were in 2012. They were 250% more likely to be able to make decisions about income generating activities at home.
How did we get there?
- Set up shops with a quality brand standard: Krishi Utsho helped set up 64 branded shops that have a common brand, but are individually owned businesses—the franchise approach. To be a Krishi Utsho approach, they have to stock quality products and provide high quality services.
- Build Better Businesses: Krishi Utsho trained shop owners in business skills, and helped them make connections to providers of quality agricultural products. Once they have the necessary training, CARE can provide certificates and quality of service standards that people trust. CARE also serves as a trusted broker between the big brands and the KU owners.
- Got the extra (last) mile: because the KU shops reach thousands of people that normally would never access products in bigger cities or farther away, they are attractive options for makers of inputs like fertilizer, vet services, and seeds to change their marketing and pricing to reach new customers. It also makes products more accessible for women, who have less mobility, and for people who cannot spare the time or money to travel.
- Build demand: By training poor, rural farmers in improved agricultural techniques and the need for services, and then connecting them to solutions that work, CARE helps the local market strengthen for everyone. CARE’s Monitoring & Evaluation and technology platforms also help track demand and see what needs to change in the future.