At SC Johnson, we have long been committed to making life better for families around the world. Since 1937, we’ve given 5% of all pre-tax profits to charities. Twenty years ago, we set out to do even more to help some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
We started looking at how we could help raise standards of living and provide opportunities for a better quality of life for the 4 billion people at the base of the world’s economic pyramid – what’s known as the “base of the pyramid” or “BOP”.
And in recent years, we’ve done even more, focusing specifically on mosquito-borne disease prevention. As our Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson explains, “Insect-borne diseases are a serious threat to families around the world. We remain dedicated to continuing our leadership in researching insects to help improve family health.”
This is one of the children of Anna, a housewife who lives in Belén, Peru. Her home is made of corrugated metal and plywood donated by family members and friends.
Many of the family’s possessions are donations, gifts or salvaged materials. Anna's husband, Jacob, works as a labourer, earning a low, inconsistent wage. He earns enough for food, clothing and a few household items but not much else.
Belén sits along the Itaya river. When the water rises, it signals the beginning of mosquito season. Anna struggles to sleep in the evening because of the constant biting and fear that her children might get sick from dengue fever. When her oldest daughter had haemorrhagic dengue fever – nurses at the local health clinic recommended lighting mosquito coils underneath her children’s bed and cleaning the floor with bleach and petrol.
Health workers visit Belén at the beginning of mosquito season to document cases of dengue fever and teach households about mosquito nets. Anna believes that mosquito nets are effective but unbearable to sleep under during the humid rainy season.
“I can't sleep under a net because it's too hot – if I sleep outside the net I will be eaten alive by mosquitoes. Either way I don't sleep", she says.
Learning: Spending time with people like Anna and her family reinforces the need to provide solutions that are not only accessible and affordable, but seamlessly fit into her life, align with her priorities and even make her life better.
Actions: To address this challenge, we take a human-centred approach with organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and immerse ourselves in our end users’ lives to genuinely understand their priorities, how they live their lives, and what’s truly important to them.
Using all that we continue to learn, SC Johnson’s BOP programme aims to drive continual progress against mosquito-borne diseases like malaria through these strategic principles: