Business Support: Emergency grant for vaccine delivery

Securing distribution of medicine during the pandemic.

Freight in Time truck delivering goods

Freight in Time (FiT) is a supply chain logistics provider in East Africa, covering Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. The company operates within the areas of perishables, pharmaceutical and healthcare, telecommunication and ICT and humanitarian relief. With Norfund’s investment in 2015, FiT expanded their supply chain logistics focusing on temperature-controlled warehousing and distribution for third parties, an area which is underserved in East Africa.

The project: Freight in Time last-mile delivery

  • Region: East Africa
  • Norfund contribution: NOK 1 051 000

The overall goal of the last-mile delivery project is to contribute to increased immunisation coverage by ensuring equitable distribution of sufficient quantities of potent vaccines from the nominated district vaccines store to health facilities using global best practice standards. 

With funding from GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and Global Fund, Freight in Time has, in recent years, been implementing a solution that has revolutionised cold-chain last-mile delivery of vaccines in three districts in Uganda, serving about 10 percent of the total population. Their solution has guaranteed last-mile delivery of vaccines to all health facilities in these regions.

The role of Norfund’s Business Support

A phased expansion throughout the country was planned to start in July 2020. However, the roll-out was interrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

To secure this last-mile vaccine delivery, Norfund provided an emergency grant of USD 100,000 through its Business Support facility. GAVI and the UPS Foundation contributed financially, too. 

The supplementary bridge funding from July to December 2020 allowed for continued service delivery of medicines and vaccines in the three districts in Uganda, ensuring life-saving services throughout the pandemic. All three districts have reported substantially improved product availability at point of service, reduced wastage and significant reduction in stock-outs at facilities.

‘FiT has created a reliable and secure distribution system that has earned facilities trust from the districts. Facilities no longer have to hoard products in anticipation of shortages at district level.’

Sr. Betty, Assistant District Health Officer, Wakiso District

The financial support also created time for the National Medicine Store Uganda (NMS) to strategise on a national roll-out for a robust vaccine and cold-chain distribution system, while sustaining the achievements in the three pilot districts.