May 19, 2020

Zoetis’ A.L.P.H.A. Initiative: creating sustainability in Africa

Sustainability
agriculture
Powerful Women
business development
Amber Donovan-Stevens
4 min
Zoetis’ A.L.P.H.A. Initiative: creating sustainability in Africa

Tetiana Miroshnychenko started with Zoetis in December 2018 in a new position specifically created in order for her to lead the A.L.P.H.A initiative. Before she took this role, Miroshnychenko had begun her career in Ukraine, gaining experience in a variety of areas such as business development, marketing and commercial aspects of human pharma. She headed the Ukraine office before relocating to UK and Belgium to undertake global roles. Her extensive knowledge of the developing markets, experience within operational roles, and interaction with a vast variety of individuals and cultures placed her as the ideal candidate for the role.

The A.L.P.H.A initiative was introduced in 2017, in order to improve livestock health and positively impact farmer’s livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative is co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided a US$14.4mn in three-year grant to assist with sustainable growth and development of the farming sector in Africa. "The focus of the initiative can be defined by three pillars," explains Miroshnychenko, "The first is the improvement of medicines and veterinary services. The second is providing training and education, and the third is the implementation of diagnostic infrastructure, to ensure that people are not only receiving help, but understanding the relationship and the results." Miroshnychenko emphasises that the key to ensuring sustainability is the incorporation and development of veterinary laboratory networks across these regions. By improving access to critical veterinary products and services like diagnostics labs we can make a positive impact long-term on the quality of animal healthcare.

According to Zoetis’ statistics, 50% of the people in Sub-saharan Africa, who live on less than $1 a day, rely on livestock, which is responsible for 45% of household income. Miroshnychenko notes that the initiative is functioning across four countries; Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania. These locations were agreed upon with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as they have the fastest growing populations, and thus an increasing requirement for food and nutrition. "Nigeria is the third most populated country in the world, yet unfortunately, infrastructure is not very well developed. This means that Zoetis could not provide assistance directly, but instead with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we were able to set up an organisation within the country, which would allow us to establish the foundations for a sustainable future for commercial organisations." As an example, Zoetis recently opened a poultry diagnostic laboratory hub in Nigeria that will support the whole region. Currently, over 1500 farmers and farmers’ trainers have received specialised training via the ALPHA initiative.

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Miroshnychenko says that the initiative has adapted to each country in a slightly different way. “In terms of the training and education we have, around 40% of women participating in our training and education campaign in Uganda, but only 30% in Nigeria,” she says. “There is a prevalence of women in Uganda caring for cattle and poultry in smallholding farms, and women are in charge of both caring for families and livestock, so it is important for them to learn and generate sustainability in order to provide for their families. In Nigeria, there are less women working in farming, as men take on the heavier tasks such as herding.” Miroshnychenko says that there is an increased number of women with a curiosity for agriculture and farming, and it is important to provide this education now as to best provide them with the tools to create a sustainable future for their families, and so the future of the country. “The Zoetis team work closely with local communities to understand local needs and provide relevant opportunities for women to participate in the activities held,” adds Miroshnychenko.  

Miroshnychenko believes that a strong sense of accountability is the driving factor to excellent performance within Zoetis and the A.L.P.H.A initiative: "It’s all about personal accountability and team accountability for what you're doing and the results you are bringing to the company and to broader society." One major achievement made within the regions is the supply of medication, which was previously almost non-existent. "We have now submitted 66 products which require registration. The process can take up to a year and a half, so this is an excellent number," she says. In terms of education, Miroshnychenko states that women in particular are learning how to use vaccines, and work closely with veterinarians pharmas to learn how to build upon these skills.

As the initiative continues, Miroshnychenko says her company is ready for the challenge of the launch of the 66 products to the market, with the registration of more. This initiative is just one of many that Zoetis is operating in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation across several countries. "Our people are very passionate about social impact and the future," concludes Miroshnychenko, "we have a very diverse team who are really keen on building a sustainable future and bringing the social impact in Africa." If the A.L.P.H.A initiative continues with such diligence and commitment, it is undoubted that the essential foundations to sustainability will be created in these four countries.

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