The team of five students from the University of Pennsylvania tied up with Akshay Patra to start distributing specially developed Sweet Gum -- a xylitol chewing gum --which they say is a helpful tool in eradicating...
In July this year, loaded down with samples of Sweet Bites gum, they arrived in Bangalore. Their plan was to distribute the gum by selling directly to the local store-owners in the slums and to look for partnerships with local schools and NGOs to develop a broader distribution network, the statement said. Soon they tied up with Akshaya Patra, which provides meals to 1.4 million children throughout the country and to 200,000 children in Bangalore.
"One of our biggest partnerships is now with Akshaya Patra. It turned out to be one of our best connections in India because we are piloting with them this year to try to scale up from a few schools in the first quarter of 2015 to all 1.4 million of their kids," said Spencer Penn, one of the students. The business now has two routes for distributing the gum, through their partnership with Akshaya Patra's feeding programs and through direct sales via "dental ambassadors".
These ambassadors are Indian dental students, hired by Sweet Bites, to encourage the store owners in the slums to sell the xylitol gum. In return, Sweet Bites pays the students' dental school tuition at a cost of USD 170 a year. The dental ambassador system of distribution, says Penn, "was key to accessing this market without having to pay millions of dollars in advertising".