speaking in San Francisco by SP International
Welcome back to the conclusion of my interview with Saundra Pelletier, CEO of WomanCare Global and author of Saddle Up Your Own White Horse: 5 Principles Every Woman Needs to Know.
JB: Your career in the healthcare field began rather serendipitously. Can you share that story with us?
SP: Sometimes what we choose, chooses us without us even realizing it. My goal was broadcast journalism when I went to college but because many experiences surrounded women's confidence, women's natural thoughts about what they deserved, I consistently felt that I needed to do more to impact empowering women. Unfortunately, I did not know how at the time. Searle launched the first birth control pill in the US, they a were a pharmaceutical company with a focus on the female patient. I started in a an entry level position and quickly moved up the corporate ladder to run a global division. This allowed more influence, more training for me on what women wanted and how to reach them from puberty to menopause. The most important lessons came in my journey to advance my career on managing and mentoring women and how some women really aren't supporters to the most important recipients, other women.
JB: The very opposite of the concept of nurturing cavalry. You've carried over that concern for women to your current role as CEO of WomanCare Global. What goes on over there? What are you trying to accomplish and how do you go about it?
SP: WomanCare Global is a non-profit organization focused on providing reproductive healthcare products to women and girls. The unmet demand for contraception is significant with 230 million women wanting options they are unable to obtain. On a positive note, there are many wonderful organizations doing important work but often times band-aids are provided instead of long term sustainable options so the need continues.
We at WomanCare Global (WCG) believe that every woman, no matters who she is or where she lives should be able to choose when, if and how often she has children. We sometimes forget that these women are often invisible, treated as second class citizens and beaten if they use a contraceptive method even though they can't feed the children they already have. Women WILL make the right choice if given an option. We see women who will walk two days pregnant, carrying children and pulling them along behind her so she can stand in line for contraception.
Women in every corner of the world simply want a quality of life for the children they already have and sadly they are willing to risk their lives to prevent having an unwanted child. Too often, women do lose their lives from complications that could be avoided. Let me shock you by sharing that when children lose their mother in Africa, they are 10 times more likely to die prematurely.
What makes WCG different? What is the value we add? Well, we say that we are in the unsexy business of managing the supply chain which is the path to providing quality contraceptive choices. WCG has three characteristics that we feel are value propositions in the women's healthcare field globally. 1. We use developed market quality assurance and regulatory which is the same process pharmaceutical companies use to evaluate their products for the US market. This matters because we can ensure our products have quality ingredients, quality packing that can stand up to heat and that we will be able to supply these products indefinitely.
2. We use a behavior modification approach to calling on doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare providers. We call this program MAX: Maximizing Provider Performance. This means we have meetings with high frequency, we collect data on patients, products and procedures that we upload on iPads in Africa. This allows us to make educated assumptions on how people are being trained on various contraceptive choices and the obstacles that exist in tier daily work. We can then do "real time" interventions and assist with providing solutions. Perhaps a woman is only being offered one choice because the provider needs additional medical training.
3. The final differentiating characteristic is that WCG is a hybrid model. This means we use business practices to generate profits in developed markets and we us that profit to subsidize places where we lose money on purpose like the continent of Africa. This will allow us to become self-sustaining in the future. We can very transparently show the cross subsidizing of funds to achieve our mission. Finally, I think it's important to say that we make a very deliberate effort to act as a complement to other organizations. Success lies in partnering with other organizations that have different skill sets so we can use a total market approach and impact lasting change. My concern is that we must think globally now and correct the problems that exist with providing access to real choice for women and girls in every country.
African clients of WCG by Jack Hazerjian
JB: Your business savvy and experience in the field are definite assets to your work at WomanCare Global. We tend to think of access to contraceptives as a Third World issue. But, alarmingly, that very same access has been steadily shrinking here at home. Have you thought about including the US in your global outreach?
SP: Access is a global issue and American women cannot rest and feel that our rights are safe and sound. The same issues regarding choice and access to that choice continue to be debated here at home. One out of every two pregnancies in the US involve women who do not want to be pregnant with that child and the biggest increase in women having unplanned births are women between the ages of 20 and 24. The US market requires a significant investment to make an impact as an organization. WomanCare Global does not yet have the financial resources to make an impact in the US market.