Susan Payne

Improving lives in Africa

20 September 2016

Susan Payne is leading a unique collaboration between Barclays and healthcare company GSK to transform lives in Africa.

Susan, what is the Barclays GSK Partnership?

The partnership brings together the skills and expertise of a bank and healthcare company to develop and test new models that will increase access to healthcare and improve economic livelihoods across Africa.

In Zambia, the partnership has set up a new social enterprise, Live Well, with the NGO CARE. Live Well recruits, trains and supports a network of Community Health Entrepreneurs (CHEs) to promote healthcare and sell health impact products into underserved communities.

Live Well addresses a real need by raising awareness of health issues at a household level and providing much-needed health products into communities which otherwise wouldn’t have access to them. It also provides entrepreneurial opportunities in communities of high unemployment, in a country where around three quarters of the population earns less than USD $1.25 a day.

Why is Barclays involved?

This partnership is a great example of how Barclays has worked to address some of the biggest challenges facing the African continent: joblessness, poverty, rising inequality and exclusion from access to financial services. Barclays is working in a new way with GSK, a key client, to provide a depth to our business relationship that delivers on our Shared Growth strategy. 

What challenges did you face getting this project off the ground?

We have faced lots of challenges over the past three years. One challenge was how to put into practice theoretical plans that had been developed remotely without a deep understanding of the local operating and regulatory environment in Zambia. This impacted our plans to develop a new micro health insurance product, which didn’t prove viable in the market.

Improving lives in Africa - Betty

One of the principles Barclays and GSK agreed from the start was transparency. We are keen to share the lessons we have learnt, not just across both organisations, but also externally to inform the debate on development and other ‘business to business’ collaborations. We plan to publish a full report to mark the third anniversary of the partnership later this year.

What sets this project apart?

It’s unique. We believe it is the first time that two multinational companies, from quite different and heavily regulated sectors, have come together to work in this way. I am proud that we have created one team, bringing the best from Barclays and from GSK. The partnership team includes colleagues with quite different but complementary skills and expertise, which creates a very stimulating and cooperative environment where we share rich learnings. We are also working in a new way with CARE. Challenging traditional corporate NGO partnerships, we have created a new business model which blends business and social impact.

It is great that around 80% of Live Well CHEs are women. With business and health promotion skills, these women are building financial resilience, which empowers them to provide for themselves and their families.

The women I meet in this job constantly inspire me. I first met Betty (Banda), on my first trip to the Eastern Province of Zambia in October 2013. She was a volunteer health worker, playing a key role to support the government’s healthcare delivery in Chadiza, but struggling to earn enough money to support her family.

Improving lives in Africa - Betty with medicine

I was back in Chadiza in February this year to see Betty again. She is now one of more than 300 Live Well CHEs. We have given her the skills and support she needs to establish her small business, selling basic but critical health products such as diarrhoea treatment kits for children. Through her work she is now earning enough money to support herself, her family as well as serving her community’s health needs.

What are the next milestones for the project?

By the end of 2016, I would like to see Live Well set up for success. Barclays and GSK will support CARE and Live Well to deliver on plans to scale up the number of CHEs earning an income, promoting health awareness and improving access to health products. We want to prove the viability of this new business model, and help Live Well secure funding to take it further.