The Rural India story - Horlicks Mission Health

The Rural India story - Horlicks Mission Health

IndiaGurgaon , India
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

GSK's Rural India initiative is a unique program that reaches out to small Indian villages, creating a viable, sustainable and high growth business while improving the health and well being of the community at large - through programs that are integrated and embedded in the community structure of these villages.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

India has the dubious distinction of ranking at Number 2 when it comes to Malnutrition. This is one of the biggest health problems that the country faces and is particularly severe in rural areas - specifically when it comes to child and maternal malnutrition. A World Bank study over three decades suggests that the issue is not one of food insufficiency alone. In fact it is largely due to weak health infrastructure in these areas, lack of awareness and the prevalence of unhealthy practices. An organization like GSK Consumer Healthcare – with its rich understanding of consumers and the space of nutrition - is extremely well-placed to participate and make a difference to this issue.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

-Creating a sustainable distribution system for improved access of nutritional products in hitherto untouched markets. Doing this through the appointment of micro-distributors in each village which not only enhances livelihood to these individuals but also ensures that the products are available in these remote villages. -In these villages where we build micro distributors we also create an ecosystem aimed at improving the awareness of health issues in these communities which addresses important segments including the medical community, schools, mothers and children. This program ensures sustainability by involving various members of the rural communities in propagating the messages around health, making it a way of living. - This ecosystem is created around our brands in order to create fuel for business growth.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Over the last 1.5 years, the Rural India business was set up by appointing 7000 rural distributors. These micro distributors ensure access of nutritional products to over 10,000 villages. - Horlicks Mission Health is a program running in 4400 villages in the country and entails the following: *Launch in every village through key stakeholder meeting where we build commitment towards the movement. * Each month, a set of activities are conducted in the village at schools, public health platforms and village doctor. These activities have a distinct theme and health messages are delivered through the format of stories, games and local traditional folk music-based songs. - In schools, students are involved through songs, stories and games. There is also a ‘’Sehat ke Sipahi’’ (The Health Police) program where students become health messengers and create awareness amongst the community. These student are well respected for this in the community and thereby the students self esteem grows - likening one as a real 'hero'. - Through public health networks (Anganwaadis), a ‘Mothers workshop’ is run for pregnant/nursing mothers. The idea is to create the realization – traditionally unknown – that a mother must first take care of herself. This messaging, and useful, practical tips around healthcare are embedded in stories and traditional songs. Each mother also gets her free health check up done. Each moth the village doctors receive information around the treatment of prevalent diseases, as well as knowledge of various medicines - thus building their capability.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In the private sector, Unilever’s Project Shakti, ITC e-choupal are large base of pyramid businesses and work with community engagement. In the healthcare sector, there are a few initiatives which are attempting to find innovative solutions through a partnership approach. However, all of them focus on the curative aspect of health, rather than preventive. It is well understood that for a lasting health impact, the focus on prevention is the key. The government sector, with its National Rural Health Mission, is perhaps the largest and most active player in this segment. We are only strengthening the efforts of other players,The idea of ‘competition’ in the traditional sense of the term is rendered irrelevant. Our intiative is an integrated solution for both business and community.

Founding Story

I’ve spent a long time working in rural areas, and it is usually when I’m on a market visit in a remote village that the most insightful revelations take place. The first time that we launched our Health Mission program, I watched as a young mother listened to a song that we had created – about how a mother owes it to her unborn child to take the best possible care of her own health. It was as I saw a tear rolling down her cheek, and yet a resolve in her eyes that I realized that we can make a huge difference to people’s mindsets, attitudes and practices towards health. The importance of women, especially mothers, in any community cannot be overlooked– especially when it is a question of lasting change. It is also through personally seeing the excitement and willingness of young school children to participate in our health awareness programs that one knows we’re creating health ambassadors – as we scale up operations, the future of several thousand villages will be shaped by them.
About You
About You
First Name


Tell us about yourself/your team.

I built my career over several years, as a sales and marketing professional in India’s largest FMCG company before deciding that I needed to change track – four years ago, I entered the unconventional, complex and unchartered terrain, where few people dare to go: building businesses in Rural India. And there’s been no looking back – working in Rural India gives one the unique thrill of setting up new businesses from scratch, while positively impacting life in the rural communities.
At GSK, I head the Rural business for the Consumer Healthcare division (makers of several nutritional products, including Horlicks.) We are a team of young passionate people who have been handpicked to set up this business. What drives us is the aim of winning the love and respect of the communities we serve.

What makes you an intrapreneur? What are the skills, capabilities, and personality traits that make you an intrapreneur?

* Passion for creating new businesses
* A strong desire to make a positive impact on society
* An ability to push for change
* Unconventional and creative thinking
* The ability to see the larger picture – to find holistic solutions and go beyond the brief.
* The ability to create a vision
* The persuasive communication skills to communicate that vision and excite others.
* A rather special quality – which we Indians refer to as ‘Jugaad’ – the ability to find creative, frugal innovative solutions and workarounds
* A strong sales and marketing background
* A wry sense of humor that keeps me and my team going when things go wrong, as they often do.

About Your Organization
Company Country

, HR, Gurgaon

Primary country where this project is creating social impact

, BR

Additional countries or regions

The business is rolled out in eight states of India - West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and A.P.


Consumer Products

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Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Growth (your pilot is up and running, and starting to expand)

The Solution: Why is this solution innovative for your company and industry?

The key factors are:
* The approach of building a business with the main focus on a larger goal: impacting the overall health of rural communities.
* Innovation in execution at various levels – an altogether new distribution model, and non-traditional modes of brand awareness such as using folk music, folklore and so on.
* The involvement of community members to propagate the messages themselves.
*A culture of experimentation, scaling up fast, learning from failures

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Our products are now available in over 10,000 villages in the country. The Horlicks Mission Health has been rolled out to 4400 villages and by end of 2013, will reach out to 7000 villages.
Currently, over 350,000 kids and 110,000 mothers are spoken to every month as a part of our program. Over 5000 village registered medical practitioners are getting new educational material each month.
Over 95,000 new outlets are stocking and selling our products and there is business gain as well.
The above are more input parameters and we will now be putting out a detailed research on ground to understand the impact on the health indicators as we roll the model to more villages. This will give us a good sense of the final impact these programs are creating.

What is your projected impact over the next 1 to 3 years?

Over the next 3 years, we aim to reach out to over 35,000 villages and serve a population of 120 million people. The Horlicks Health Mission will touch over a million school children, 500,000 expecting mothers and 20,000 village doctors.
The positive impact of these programs will need to be ideally measured through recording baseline health indices in these villages over a stretch of time. The sheer number of people touched by our programs indicates that the impact will be huge in the medium and long term.
Apart from this, through a ‘’Village Level Enterpreneur’’ program, we intend to further enhance our access to products directly to homes by appointing underprivileged women who will go door-to-door with our products. These entrepreneurs will be the natural owners of Horlicks Mission.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The rural business and the movement that we’ve created is clearly gathering strength and scaling up very quickly in an upward spiral.As with any business that scales up so quickly, the issues are likely to be :
-Quality of people – maintaining a high quality workforce at a much larger scale will be a challenge. Therefore, training and reward systems will need to be thought through, experimented with and scaled up quickly.
-Monitoring and Control – since the operations are going to be so large in scale, it will not be easy to monitor what is happening at the ground level in each village. Mobile-based solutions and technology will play a huge role in ensuring we get timely information, and these are already being put in place.

What is the benefit or value you're creating for your business?

The benefits that we’re creating for GSK are :
*Ensuring access to a large number of far flung villages through a sustainable distribution network, so that our products find new consumers.
*A very strong communication channel and platform to reach out to millions of rural consumers in otherwise media-dark markets.
*Creating programs that help brands win the hearts of consumers.
*Increased health awareness leading to improved consumption and penetration of our nutritional products.
* An example where business and societal impact are integrated.

How are you leveraging internal resources (funds, time, knowledge, etc.) to support this initiative?

While the Rural business is seen as a separate business model which is well funded and invested, it is extremely well entrenched in the overall business. The support from the organization is drawn through the following areas -
a. Sales support – The sales division supports by ensuring supplies to these markets – in fact, the Rural network is built on the existing distribution network.
b. Research & Development support through their know-how and work on innovations needed specifically for these rural markets.
c. Product support – through the creation of low-unit, affordable packs designed specifically for these markets to increase access.
d. GSK’s Pharmaceutical division knowhow is used for inputs to the Registered Medical Practioner Program
e. Senior leadership encouragement.

Expand on your answer, explaining the long-term funding and support plan.

Unlike most start-ups – the Rural business of GSK has proved to be a profitable venture ( and then some!) in the first year of operation itself. The Health Awareness program is funded through the incremental revenues generated by the business. However, the scale of our ambition going forward will necessitate the need for funding, and we intend to pursue this through a partnership approach, specifically in the areas of Research ( to measure the impact on actual health parameters of the participating villages), and Health Infrastructure development ( in the platforms of schools and hospitals and health care providers)

Tell us about your partnerships across your company and externally that are key to your project's success.

Partnership at every level is proving to be the key to this business’s success.
At the grassroots level - in every village that we go to, we partner with local village level representatives – these are the key stake holders such as school principals, elected representatives of the village, doctors and so on.
Within the organization, a collaboration has been created between the Consumer Healthcare and Pharmaceutical divisions, to leverage each others strengths.

What internal support have you gotten for your project? What kind of push-back have you received?

Apart from the funds, time, knowledge from various parts of GSK within India and globally – the most important support provided to us has been the Free Hand that we’ve got to run this business as an entrepreneurial, fast-paced, innovative business. The space to create has been provided by the organization, and this is a primary reason for the early success that we’ve seen, which has beaten our initial growth ambitions.