Shakti" program has Shakti ammas (mothers) and Shaktimaan (men) selling its personal care and household products in tiny villages throughout India. These rural and sometimes remote areas are places where distributing products through traditional channels can be both difficult and costly.
By helping local people become entrepreneurs representing Unilever products, the company not only expands its distribution reach, it helps fight poverty (the corporate social responsibility angle), improve living standards and build its brand.
Hindustan Lever has been using Shakti distribution in India for years. This distribution system has been so effective that Unilever is expanding it to Kenya, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Shakti reps may soon be selling other non-competing goods and services, such as banking services and telecommunication services, increasing their income and making more offers available to their villages. What's next for Unilever's Shakti distribution?