Formed in 1974, Social Marketing Company (SMC) started its journey as the Family Planning Social Marketing Project (FPSMP) funded by USAID with a view to address the rapid population growth in Bangladesh by engaging the private sector health service providers. In 1990, after achieving significant success, the project was converted into a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee which is run by a voluntary Board of Directors.
SMC has successfully applied social marketing principles and practices in providing health and social services. It has now become the largest and most successful social enterprise and a major contributor to the Bangladesh national family planning program. SMC and its subsidiary organization SMC Enterprise Ltd (SMC EL) market a full range of family planning products, Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) and other consumer goods. SMC EL operates the biggest ORS manufacturing facility in the country having a market share of around 60%.
SMC has notably contributed to increase Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) at the national level sharing 46% pills, 58% condoms and 25% injectables. According to the preliminary report of Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) 2017, SMC contributed 36% of the modern contraceptive method use nationally.
As per 2018 Contraceptive Social Marketing Statistics released by DKT International, USA, SMC was ranked as the second largest contraceptive social marketing program globally in terms of CYP (Couple Years of Protection) achievement. Since its inception, SMC operations have averted 19.94 million unintended pregnancies, 2 million deaths of children under-5 and 186 million Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) till June 2019.
SMC supports the Blue Star Program - a network of 7,500 private sector non-graduate providers, Green Star Program – a network of more than 4,500 drug sellers and the Pink Star Program – a network of 650 graduate providers mostly Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. SMC improves the skills of these providers through basic and periodic refresher trainings. These networks are branded by SMC as the quality private sector outlets to promote public health products and services. Till now, SMC has trained more than 250,000 providers on family planning, maternal and child health, nutrition, diarrheal disease management, TB and HIV/AIDS prevention. SMC’s community mobilization activities in low performing districts have been recognized nationwide for successfully promoting products encouraging behavior change by involving 2,500 community level rural women entrepreneurs (known as Gold Star Members). The entrepreneurs create demand and sell SMC products in the community.
In 2014, SMC formed SMC EL, a private company limited by shares and a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary to separate profitable activities from nonprofit to effectively manage a growing and complex operation. It follows a 360 degree marketing and branding approach so that the brand communications reach out to a diversified group of audiences. The Pharmaceutical Division of SMC EL started its journey in August 2017 with the key objective of “No one should suffer, especially the less-privileged due to lack of affordable quality medicine”. This division currently promotes 36 products in the market.
In line with its vision and mission, SMC has made an enormous contribution in addressing the country’s goals and thereby protecting the lives of numerous women and children through public health products and services over many years. In its long journey from a project to a thriving social business enterprise, SMC has now been considered as the largest and most successful partner of the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) in the field of health and family planning.