VidaGas: VillageReach - The Mozambican Foundation for Community Development Joint Venture
This case describes the evolution of a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) distributor start-up, incubated by two not-for-profit NGOs to help improve the vaccine cold chain in Northern Mozambique. These NGOs must face the decision whether and how to sell their participation in the start-up. VillageReach and the Mozambican Foundation for Community Development (FDC), both NGOs, got involved in the national immunization program, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), in northern Mozambique. This program's goal was to ensure prompt and universal access to vaccines and other medical supplies. Early on, VillageReach had realized that the program's goals could not be satisfied unless cold storage (and transportation) of the vaccines was guaranteed. Because electricity was scarce and unreliable in the region, VillageReach searched for alternative solutions for supporting cold storage. VillageReach finally decided to use LPG powered refrigerators, and, due to the lack of reliable sources of LPG in the region, FDC and VillageReach went on to fund VidaGas, an LPG distribution company. It soon became evident that an efficient distribution network of LPG could provide benefits to society above and beyond health: at the time, most businesses and households in the region cooked using biomass fuels. Such fuels are a significant health hazard, and also contribute to deforestation in the region. Although VidaGas could be considered a success, it had yet to reach breakeven in its current operations. In addition, new investments would be required to expand operations to neighboring provinces beyond the province used for the pilot, Cabo Delgado. As the Ministry of Health (MoH), FDC and VillageReach are planning to expand the improvements in the national immunization program to these provinces, the presence of a reliable source of LPG would be essential to their goals. At the same time, VillageReach and FDC's resources for further investment are limited.