Chuck Slaughter, the founder of Living Goods, learned his first lessons in door-to-door distribution as a paperboy growing up in Connecticut. Later, he fell in love with faraway lands and people while leading overseas bike trips during school breaks. These two passions have driven him ever since.
In 1987, he opened the New York Times and read an article that changed everything. The story was about Trickle Up, a pioneer of the microfinance movement. Deeply inspired, he became one of the group’s program officers, traveling throughout India, Nepal, and Indonesia. On his travels, he learned about the world-changing power of Trickle Up’s micro-entrepreneurial clients and social entrepreneurial founders Glen and Mille Leet.
At Glen’s encouragement, Chuck returned to Yale to earn his Master’s in Public and Private Management. After business school, Chuck launched TravelSmith – a direct mail catalog dedicated to the needs of serious travelers. TravelSmith took off, reaching over $100 million in sales and two million loyal customers. In 2004, he sold TravelSmith with the intention of taking time to enjoy his new family. Chuck began dreaming again, this time about ideas with the potential for big social impact that blended the best of the social and business sectors.
Inspiration arrived when a good friend introduced Chuck to The Health Store/CFW Shops, a struggling system of franchised drug shops in Kenya. He joined their board and volunteered to help put the organization on its feet. Chuck saw limitations in CFW’s storefront model. Unprofitable shop owners were idle for much of the day, waiting for sick people to walk in, and storefronts were not viable in rural areas. As a test, he encouraged the shop owners to get out and knock on doors and visit schools. The experiment worked beautifully. He wondered, “What if we got rid of the stores altogether and used only mobile agents?” He believed the power of door-to-door health workers could dramatically lower costs and improve rural reach. He saw how a mobile model could focus on keeping people healthy, rather than waiting for people to get curative treatment when they got sick.
He launched Living Goods in Uganda in 2007. With Living Goods, he envisioned more than creating a high-impact social enterprise. He sought a model with the potential for game-changing scale that would improve the lives of millions by inspiring visionary governments, global NGOs, and businesses to build sustainable platforms of community health providers to bring life-changing care to families who need it most.
Chuck learned early that smart risk-taking, accepting failures, and thriving on learning is vital for success, and he helped infuse this vital ingredient into the culture that Living Goods lives and breathes each day. We are constantly testing new ideas and approaches, to ensure we can achieve our vision of exponentially expand access to vital health services.