Pharmacies account for two-thirds of healthcare visits and expenditures in Bangladesh yet access to a reliable pharmacy remains a huge challenge for more than 100m people in rural communities.
Through its JeeonConnect digital platform, Jeeon already connects a network of more than 2,000 micro-pharmacies to training, technologies, products and services to help grow their businesses and support quality health care provision for 4m underserved patients.
With a vision of extending digital connectivity to every pharmacy and informal drug store in Bangladesh by 2021, Benjamin Rojsuontikul, an EY manager from the US, was engaged to help Jeeon strengthen its financial and operational modeling, and develop a business plan for scale – a project that only gained in significance, as COVID-19 struck.
Recognizing the risk of pharmacies becoming transmission super-nodes, Jeeon swiftly repurposed half its team to COVID-19 response efforts, including helping the government to build a symptom checker and national case surveillance system, as well as embedding the symptom checker in its e-commerce app to help and encourage pharmacists to test risk of exposure before physically interacting with patients.
While the pandemic may have curtailed immediate plans to expand its pharmacy network, Jeeon CEO, Rubayat Khan, remains optimistic about the future. “The way we’ve risen to meet the needs of the moment, I feel we’re fulfilling the promises we made to ourselves and our supporters,” he says. “I’ve no doubt the strong bonds and camaraderie we’ve forged during this time will persist and yield long-term results for our business.”
“This good karma won’t go to waste and nor will Benjamin’s work,” he adds. “It’s given us a better understanding of what we need to do to achieve profitability, a more compelling value proposition to share with our supporters, and a clear plan for scaling our services and impact.”
Benjamin is equally appreciative of the opportunity to have worked with Rubayat and Jeeon, albeit only having the chance to spend two weeks on the ground in Bangladesh before returning home to complete the project virtually.
“Working virtually on a project like this isn’t without its challenges, but the rewards of helping a business like Jeeon are so much greater,” he says. “It’s an honor and a privilege to work with someone like Rubayat. Not only is he incredibly smart, his optimism is infectious, and the experience has left me with a renewed sense of hope that business can be part of helping solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.”
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