The Base of the Pyramid’s demand for essential products exists but the challenge is one of the “last mile” where the infrastructure is limited and consumers from rural communities in Peru need to travel several hours by foot and by bus to reach peri-urban or urban centers to purchase items. These populations survive on less than $2 a day and local mom-and-pop stores have limited product offerings. At the same time, companies want to penetrate new markets but the “last mile” challenge makes it too costly.
In 2013, CGEP launched their Chakipi—meaning “to your home” in the Peruvian indigenous Quechua language—distribution enterprise in one of the most rural and remote parts of Peru. Through Chakipi, CGEP recruits, trains and coaches women and aims to increase their incomes within one year of joining. Chakipi focuses on women as they are more likely to be currently economically underutilized, often staying at home while men are away at the farm. Women are also more likely to invest their earnings in the needs of their family including education.
CGEP equips them with uniforms and backpacks and provides them with a basket of products such as personal care items, fortified foods, and unique innovations such as solar lamps for sale to their communities. The overall enterprise goal is to 1) create new livelihoods for the entrepreneurs and 2) to increase access and affordability of essential goods to rural and peri-urban communities. The expected long-term impact is improved quality of living for the entrepreneurs, their families, and communities.
Chakipi currently operates in the Apurimac, Cusco, Puno, Lima, and Arequipa regions of Peru. To recruit female entrepreneurs, Chakipi partners with women’s associations, as well as other NGOs and local groups whose key focus is on women. Once a woman is recruited and selected, Chakipi trains the entrepreneurs in product familiarization, sales techniques, customer service, inventory management, and basic financial transactions, equipping them with the needed knowledge to be successful and confident salespeople.
Chakipi also adds items into their entrepreneurs’ product baskets that focus on addressing personal care and nutritional needs. The broad range of more than 50 products are made available at discounted prices through companies like Nestlé, Quaker (PepsiCo) and Claro. These partners also engage with the Chakipi entrepreneurs in product training, enabling them to add further value to the products they sell. All products are made available at strategically located meeting points in rural and peri-urban communities throughout Peru.
CGEP’s objective is to continue increasing the number and reach of “Chakipi Women” entrepreneurs and to scale from the current activities in Peru to networks in various countries and regions in the world. The establishment of a self-sustainable network for selling fast moving consumer goods enables efficient usage of this same distribution system to introduce products specifically targeted to improving the lives of low-income communities.
The social impact CGEP has observed extends beyond livelihoods to women's empowerment and skills development, community engagement, communities' access to essential goods, and behavior change. All of these factors contribute to a higher quality of living for the entrepreneurs, their families, and their communities. As of September 2015, there are more than 750 female entrepreneurs working in five regions of Peru who each sell on average $465 worth of products every month, earning 17 percent commission on sales.