Kemi Ayinde is the Chief Executive Officer at Healthpoint and a startup engineer promoting inclusion health in Africa. She feels hurt and crushed for every human being that dies of common ailments like malaria. But believes everyone from every class of life deserves easy access to quality healthcare, so more lives should be saved, and life expectancy should be on the increase. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Kemi shares how her startup is providing health financial intermediation, promoting and achieving Health Inclusiveness in Nigeria and Africa as a whole with some of their CSR projects. Excerpt.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Healthpoint, the gap it is filling and the strategic role you play?
Kemi: Healthpoint is a holistic health management solution aimed at promoting universal health coverage in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. We are a health tech startup providing telehealth and health insurance plans at affordable monthly subscriptions.
Healthpoint is propelled towards achieving global health inclusiveness by making healthcare most easily accessible to everyone; whether young or old, male or female, sick or healthy; regardless of their socio-economic status. Our goal is to ensure that every human being has easy access to healthcare and medical attention when needed in such a way as not to deplete their finances. People should be able to access vaccinations, preventive care, medical treatment, medical advice, health tips, updates and information relevant to their lives and environment.
Our mission is to reduce to the barest minimum every excuse to being unable to access quality healthcare in our society. With this, we would achieve reduced mortality rate, and increase life expectancy.
One of our core solutions is health financial intermediation wherein we buy bulk health cover plans from HMOs and Health insurance underwriters and offer them to people at very affordable monthly subscription fees.
Alaba: What is your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?
Kemi: We are only a few months old and we needed to perfect our product and market fit which we have done successfully. We are at a point where we are ready to scale and are open to investment from venture capitalists and other investors. We have since been running on our personal seed capital.
Alaba: How is Healthpoint different from other Health Startups in Africa?
Kemi: Healthpoint is born out of the passion and the calling to make healthcare most easily accessible to everyone, young or old, rich or poor. We not only provide telehealth solutions to bring healthcare right in your fingertips, but we also do financial intermediation for people and organizations who wish to acquire health cover plans for themselves, their families, and their teams but do not have the funds to, by buying these health plans in bulk and providing it to them at affordable monthly rates that are very friendly to their pockets and work well with their cash flows.
Alaba: What are the challenges, competitions and how are you overcoming them?
Kemi: The health needs in Nigeria alone is very huge and can very much accommodate and absorb every innovative and relevant health solutions so I believe we have a very large market and we would very much welcome every contribution towards achieving universal health coverage for Africa.
Alaba: What’s the future for Healthpoint and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Kemi: Like I mentioned earlier, Healthpoint is aimed at promoting and achieving Health Inclusiveness in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. So we are looking forward to a point where we implement our innovative healthcare and health finance solutions that accommodates everyone from all social strata across the African continent to be able to easily access healthcare without having to deal with financial risks as a result.
We are a team of very innovative, creative young and vibrant minds that are dedicated and committed to actualizing our goals and objectives per time. We are a tech savvy and proactive team that rides on technology to drive our goals and vision with no holds barred.
Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa health ecosystem?
Kemi: The African health ecosystem is very vast and still green, and so we have very huge plans to impact the health space significantly with different activities and solutions. We run an annual program that provides Free Health Insurance Cover for Widows, Orphans and less privileged every year. This year, our beneficiaries sprang from four orphanage and vulnerable children care homes as well as widows in Nigeria.
Healthpoint is providing them free health insurance cover for a period of one year to cater for their medical consultations, treatments, tests, prescriptions and drugs and so much more. When we listened to their stories and saw how difficult it was for them to afford healthcare, it was very touching and they were indeed very grateful that Healthpoint could think of something as this to help them with.
Alaba: What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?
Kemi: For budding entrepreneurs in Africa, I would say always maintain the passion, close your ears to all negatives, keep moving like a train, trust God and above all, let the vision keep driving you until you get to that point where you’ve always dream of. Africa is a hub of emerging markets waiting for you to pilot.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Kemi: Being an African entrepreneur for me is a huge privilege that avails me the opportunity to contribute in solving some of Africa’s biggest challenges across different sectors of modern day living. It is a somewhat challenging business environment, but if I remain determined and very passionate about my overall goal, I am convinced that my impact will be felt and recognized in the African emerging markets.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Kemi: The saying is true that “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. As hardworking as I am, I am also a fun loving person and I particularly enjoy travelling and going for vacations. I love to listen to inspiring music and watch some comedy once a while.
Most of all, I enjoy being home with family. It is very fulfilling for me.
6 Reasons Why Culture Is Important For Startup Growth (Case Study: SmartCodes)
When I was in Harvard Business School, I learnt a lot regarding how to operate profitable businesses by not only making just a business grow and expand in different markets but also to make an impact to your clients and customers. Being in the US as Harvard student for couple of weeks was major shift on my perception about what growth is, and how we Africans are not taking advantage of what we have.
Hence fast forward, I would like to share with the startup community on why culture should be most important part for the growth of your business and why it’s important to let everyone involve on the process.
1. Conduct a proper SWOT analysis within your Industry
I am not a huge fan of questions like “who are your competitors” as I believe everyone has a purpose. If you know whereyou’re going and take an important challenge to venture in new opportunities, you will find yourself focusing more on delivering solutions to your customers and less looking on what others are doing. For us, we have different competitors in different category as our company structured to implement solutions for tech, advertising, products and venture in helping startups and collaborate with other corporate, hence SWOT is important as it will make you see all sort of weakness and threats and use your strength as a checklist to combat them and grow faster.
2. Use your SWOT results to review your company vision
After sitting with your team and review all the SWOT results, it’s very important now to strategically review your vision, mission and purpose that will inspire everyone to deliver and know why they should workup in the morning and execute their task. This was one of the great exercises we did at Smart Codes and we involved everyone from our top managers to the supporting teams’ even drivers to security team, and collectively we awesomely re-define our purpose. The major key question to everyone was on defining our WHY which was the light to our PURPOSE. As a result, we find our main purpose was to make a mark in their project we touch and help our client’s grow.
3. Train your dragons
During the SWOT process, you must measure the culture from strength to weakness and immediately invest more on your weak holes so as to train the team to be better than themselves. There is no better investment than training and empowering your existing team vs trying to hire the new one which they won’t really understand your purpose at one place unless your growth need new wings and hence add one to grow faster.
Even at SC, after strategically knowing our focus was to expand in other African markets, we immediately started collaborating with top talented experts in different African markets. We inspired our teamthat, with this digital age of transformation, you can do anything it’s just you need to plan and have courage to execute it. I remember we once invited Stanbic’s CIO, Mussa Ally to come and we did amazing workshop with our team on how they can grow their career. This was not just for Smart Codes but most importantly was for their own career growth. This was done to train them to think BIG by eating an elephant in bit by bit instead of thinking or eating chips-mayai which no-one will get a wow factor from you as a person.
We have also worked closely with great minds like Max Ngari – one of the top creative people in Africa who won many awards such as the Cannes Lions awards.
4. Break your Vision into objective goals
The major learning here is, knowing how to eat an Elephant. You need to break down this elephant goal into small tasks and assign each team member to deal with a few tasks. For example, at Smart Codes we don’t have KPIs but we have objective goals plan at which each team members knows what part are they executing, hence it has helped to have smooth execution and objectives which define timelines. That has been a success for us, as it works better that, just calling them KPIs.
5. Show your client and partners your vision and purpose
Showing it’s not an easy task, but I remember one of my Professors who was teaching us about the implementation of “Diffusion of innovations”. This shows the baby steps of implementing anything new, you would 1st need to know your “Innovators” – People who will be willing to listen and then “Early Adopters” – which are more of opinion leaders, which are those around your Industry ecosystem. Surprisingly when we implemented our new VISION at Smart Codes, everyone got it and mostly we have seen people starting to add our key purpose “Making a Mark” in their hashtags, and “UNTIL ITS DONE” which is our infinity journey.
6. Share your small wins with everyone
The major thing most people have is selfishness, most of people are fearing to share their ideas and success because of competitors will know theirs moves, rather than looking at the mirror of sharing skills and opinions to help other grow the same way they did. Sharing most of the things we do at Smart Codes have been a major key growth from our team, as we know, only by sharing and open doors for outsiders to comment it’s a two way learning, and it has been an incredible growth within our team and we have even seen it via our Innovation wing at SmartLab.
I remember one of or my classmate was inspiring using a phone brand called “ONE-PLUS” and when we asked, She says that brand helped to push her dreams because all the time she switch the phone-on its pop a message says “NEVER SETTLE” then I get that this A1 culture have been a major shift of growth at OnePlus’ fanbase. Let’s share our success and failures so others can learn and also collect opinions from outsiders that will only impacting our growth.
I never thought culture was a very big thing, but as Strive Masiyiwa says “believe you me” until you practice it,its when you will see the results. And it’s important to impact your life with adding more books in your reading list and try to implement those learnings in your real life to measure growth results.Lastly, reading is the only way you can get a chance to learn new skills, as we all know “you can only give the output of what you know” and knowledge is collectively inputs and output of your interest.
I am looking forward to share more and please also share your growth list via the comment section below, so we can all learn from you as well and collectively we can MAKE A MARK across our African ecosystem.
Edwin Bruno is the Founder and CEO at SmartCodes
Coverdor: An insurtech providing digital insurance experience targeted at millennial and emerging generation
Seun Ayegbusi is the Founder and CEO at Coverdor, a Lagos based and Nigeria’s first fully digital insurance platform, providing insurance when you need it the most, entirely online. Seun and his team believe insurance is not just a fancy product, but A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT everyone deserves, especially in Nigeria and Africa where the level of risks and uncertainties we face is really high. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Seun shed more light on his brand tend to simplify the insurance experience and create easy accessibility to social benefiting insurance products in every emerging market they serve. Excerpt.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Coverdor and the gap it’s filling.
Seun: Coverdor is an AI-powered digital insurance distribution platform focused on insurance coverage for everyday items like smartphone, laptops etc against mechanical, liquid, accidental damages and theft. Coverdor also enables service providers (retail stores and ecommerce websites) cross-sell add-on gadget insurance on every consumer gadgets sold at their online or offline point of sale.
We discovered that although insurance was created for the fundamental good of society in indemnifying against risks and uncertainties, however the industry lacks the technology and innovation to connect to the retail market segment (the millennial demographic) who are more risk-prone and expects to interact with insurers and insurance products the exact way they interact with any online business who offers them convenience when shopping online.
Hence, Coverdor is filling the gap of complex, paper-based, delayed and manual processes experienced in the conventional insurance system to deliver a completely digital insurance experience for the average upward-mobile millennial offering innovative insurance products that fit their lifestyle.
Alaba: What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?
Seun: Our startup capital was in excess of $20,000 and was sourced through savings committed from founders and funds raised from family and friends.
Alaba: What are the challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?
Seun: Talking about challenges we encountered while innovating within the insurance industry can’t be over stretched, one of which is compliance with NAICOM’s regulation, which I must say is the biggest challenge we have faced however, working closely with our partner insurance company has helped us and is constantly helping us to navigate this issue.
Alaba: How is your startup different from other financial startups?
Seun: Coverdor is a lot different from any other fintech startup as the category of financial services sector we operate in differs from the categories other fintech startups operate within, especially within the payment, lending, asset management categories. However, Coverdor on the other hand is an insurance technology startup focused on insurance digitization, direct-to-customer distribution and cross-selling distribution. We also differ from other insurtech categories that focus on insurance price comparison.
Alaba: What’s the future for your startup and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Seun: The future of Coverdor is to become a full fledged digital insurance company, providing new and innovative insurance products that fits the lifestyle and meet the needs of Nigerian millennials. Also in the next 2-3 years we plan to launch a dedicated technology arm of Coverdor that will focus on core insurance solutions using emerging technologies to redefine core operational areas of insurance business, while advancing the digital transformation of the insurance industry in Nigeria.
Alaba: How can governments provide the best support for startups in Africa?
Seun: The government can do a lot in supporting startups in Africa, however, top on the list will be creating enabling policies to foster growth for startup across all sectors of the economy.
Alaba: What’s your view on the development of Africa InsurTech ecosystem?
Seun: The insurtech ecosystem in Africa is beginning to gain momentum as we witnessing different startups innovating across different points of the insurance value chain, however, to speed up the development, ecosystem players must become deliberate and intentional about fast-tracking development. Incumbent Insurers should set up digital transformation units that will foster partnerships with insurtechs looking to innovate alongside incumbent insurers. Furthermore, we need insurtech-focused accelerators to bolster insurtech startup growth, when these things are done, then the African Insurtech ecosystem will experience similar growth as seen in the US, Europe and Asia.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Seun: I feel proud to be an African entrepreneur, being part of the people bringing solutions to the many problems Africans are facing in Africa. Also being able to team up with other entrepreneurs to create jobs and contribute to the economy is a great way to live one’s life.
Alaba: What advice would you give prospecting entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa.
Seun: I will like to tell them that “nothing moves until you move”. There is never a better time to push yourself and kickstart that idea or pet project of yours, work hard to turn it into a great product or service. Three things I think will pull you through are “passion” for what you do or build, “tenacity” to see it succeed and “hope” that you will succeed as well.
Alaba: How do you and partners relax and what books do you read?
Seun: All work and no play makes Seun a dull boy, however when I need to relax I hang out with my family, family happy hour does it for me. Then as for books, I read lots of business and personal development books. Top on my list is “My Vision: challenges in the race for excellence” by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language and your favorite local dish?
Seun: Has a Yoruba man, I will like to teach you a Yoruba word that says “elubo” translated in English as yam flour.
My favourite local dish as a proud Ondo man is “iyan and efo elegusi with eja kika” translated as pounded yam with melon and vegetable soup with stock fish.
Seun Ayegbusi is a Nigerian-born tech entrepreneur, business development and digital product development expert, and a serial innovator with extensive knowledge of the African emerging markets. A graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University, and an alumnus of London Academy Business School. With over six years of experience in the private sector and the tech startup scene and a passion to tackle one of Africa’s most stubborn social development issues birthed the startup – Coverdor.
Interview With The Founder And Textile Designer At The Adirelounge, Cynthia Asije
Cynthia Asije is the founder and textile designer at The Adirelounge, a Nigeria based textile company with a premium textile brand that creates unique designs using the “Adire” skill that has been passed from generations to generations. At AdireLounge they have modernized the technical grain textile by integrating technology, design, and empowerment to strengthen financial inclusion in rural Nigeria. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Cynthia talked about her entrepreneurship journey, how Adirelounge is creating prosperity for African women, youths and their families and her plans to make her brand the number one Textile Hub with different experience outlets in major cities in Nigeria and Africa. Excerpt.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Adirelounge and the inspiration behind it?
Cynthia: The Adirelounge is a hand dyed Textile Company that creates unique designs on non-conventional fabrics like chiffon, t-shirts,scarves and silk. We also train rural women, widows, vulnerable and out of school youth in this Adire skill. Thereby preserving culture and traditions, rich heritage and the textile making skills of Nigeria. And also curbing unemployment and creating job opportunities for these women and youth. After school I went for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps in Ogun State and I was posted to Abeokuta. After service I bought some adire fabrics to sell when I get back to Benin. I sold out but my customers had complains like, why are the colors dull? Why is it strong? The colors run, why? etc. so I knew there was a problem. I had to learn how to dye this fabric and make it well. I went back to Abeokuta stayed for some time and learnt Adire making properly. I even tried dying several fabrics like Chiffon, Cotton, Jersey, Silk, Linen, Lace, Denim, T-shirts and Scarves and it came out well and was able to tackle all the questions my clients were asking.
Alaba: What was your startup capital and how did you raise it?
Cynthia: My start up capital was N20,000 gotten from my savings.
Alaba: What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?
Cynthia: Our top three Challenges are;
- Design Theft: Most of our marketing is done online so our designs are available, people take them and use them as theirs, and we had to watermark our images before it goes online.
- Finance to expand: There are no readily available finance option for small business owners with a single digit to grow their business, so at Adirelounge we overcame that by bootstrapping. But now we are open to investment options.
- Regulation: We overcame this by understanding the meaning of regulation in our industry and its implications for my business and to develop the skills necessary to deal with it.
- Finding the right Staff: we had to get our recruitment right and train them to the company’s standards, and carry out training where it is necessary following identification of staff strength.
Alaba: How is your brand unique and different from other Adire brands?
Cynthia: The Adirelounge brand is a premium brand that creates unique patterns on different fabric mediums like Silk, Chiffon, Tshirts, an ecommerce platform where customers can shop at their own convenience. We also train and empower rural women and youths in the adire skill.
Alaba: How are you promoting the Adire brand beyond the shores of Africa?
Cynthia: We are promoting the Adire brand beyond the shores of Africa via our partnerships with international ecommerce sites, partnering with fashion brands outside Africa has helped with promoting the Adire brand.
Alaba: How can African government support Startups and SMEs?
Cynthia: African government can support entrepreneurs by creating state loans or grants for entrepreneurs, reduce small business tax and hiring requirements, Create a policy framework that is pro-business and pro-employment, Co-ordinate with industry associations and business entities to advance innovation, ensure compliance, balance profits with employee focused social benefits, and encourage competition by effectively checking monopolies.
Alaba: What’s the future of your brand and what steps are you taking towards achieving them?
Cynthia: To be the number one Textile Hub in Nigeria with different experience outlets in major cities in the country. Exporting our fabrics to major stores in Europe, USA and other African countries. Establish our textile art institute in major communities in the country to teach women, youths the art of adire making so they can create sustainable income for themselves.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Cynthia: I feel so elated to be an African entrepreneur in these times. The world is watching, we have great talents and brands emerging from Africa. There is no better time to be an African entrepreneur.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Cynthia: I used to be a hermit, but part of my 2019 personal development goal is to go out more often, visit friends, attend networking meetings, and I read a lot of business and self-care books and blogs.
Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language? What’s your favourite local dish?
Cynthia: I’m from ‘Ora’ in Edo State, Nigeria. My best local dish is ‘Black soup and starch’and ‘Oboshan’ which means ‘Welcome’.
Her Short Bio:
Cynthia Asije is a multi-award winning textile designer at The Adirelounge, a hand dyed Textile Company that trains women in rural communities and create job opportunities for them.She has a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from EDC Lagos, and a Non Profit Leadership certificate from Lagos Business School.She was on the Ynaija Power list 2018 for Fashion and Style and 100 Africa’s Next Start up by IFC-World Bank Group 2018.