Last Mile Distribution
JITA’s operations are best described as an alternate rural distribution network that harnesses the ability of base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) rural communities. The uniqueness of JITA lies with its focus on the rural consumers, who are generally forced to pay higher prices for basic products due to various gaps in the underdeveloped rural market system. JITA’s solution is to offer a multi-product basket via a strong micro-entrepreneurs (Hubs) and “women inclusive” supply chain network. The basket is equipped with high-quality, authentic health, hygiene and nutrition based products that many rural households lack access to because of the gaps in the rural market system.
The concept of ‘last-mile distribution’ is not unique as its origins can be traced back decades ago with connections to humanitarian relief programs. However JITA infuses innovation by leveraging resources embedded in the community to build a cohesive supply chain system. Our model incurs low start-up costs and can be rolled out at a quicker rate (within weeks) compared to more capital intensive operations. Due to its adaptive approach, JITA is the only in Bangladesh and among the few in the world that is on a steady pathway to sustainability.
Another key aspect where JITA has innovated is in developing a multi-product basket for its channels. Generally commercial entities and non-profits that operate distribution models tend to focus only on a single product or service. This has proven to be financially unsustainable and JITA instead stresses on incorporating a wide range of products that align with the three key verticals (health, hygiene and nutrition). This multi-product mix allows the rural entrepreneurs to achieve economies of scale by selling a versatile combination and ensuring promising margins.
JITA’s last-mile distribution network also doubles as an empowerment platform for disenfranchised women (MOUKA), which support them through training and market linkages to pursue entrepreneurial ventures either as door-to-door sales agent or small scale retail store operators. Additionally, the last-mile distribution model mobilizes community embedded resources to provide supply chain support to a network of rural micro-merchants referred to as Non-Direct Sales Service (NDSS).
JITA is constantly exploring new ways to solve the market linkage problem by pursuing innovative approaches. One such initiative is the piloting of the Bottola Centers (Bengali for “a place under the shade of a Banyan tree”), driven by the idea of establishing an area that serves as a one-stop retail, service and community meeting point. These Bottola Centers offer a convenient space where women meet and exchange entrepreneurial experiences and ideas, as well as engage in trade activities.