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Interview with eHealth Africa Co-Founder, Evelyn Castle

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Evelyn Castle, Executive Director and Co-Founder, eHealth Africa is a woman with a passion for her organisation as a brand. In this eInterview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on how eHealth Africa is impacting public health  and building stronger health systems through the design and implementation of data-driven solutions across West Africa. Excerpts.

 

 

 

Tell us about yourself and your business

My name is Evelyn Castle. I was born and raised in Southern California and went to the University of California, Santa Cruz with the dream of becoming a doctor. I have always been a tech geek and became interested in using technology in health care while I was doing research on maternal and child mortality in Nigeria. In the summer of 2009, I decided to test the idea of using technology to improve healthcare and took an internship at a family care clinic in Kaduna, Nigeria. I began working with my soon-to-be business partner, Adam Thompson, on implementing an electronic medical record system at the clinic to track child immunization records. After a month of working with the clinic to enter in hundreds of records, we were able to run their monthly immunization report on the computer in a few seconds instead of spending days tallying the log books like they had to do in the past. We saw what a huge impact a simple technology tool could have on improving health care – and from that moment, eHealth Africa (eHA) was born!

 

Since 2009, eHA has grown into a leader in West Africa for electronic health (eHealth) and mobile health (mHealth) solutions. Our mission is to build stronger health systems through the design and implementation of data-driven solutions that respond to local needs and provide underserved communities with tools to lead healthier lives. Based in Africa, we establish new standards in health delivery and emergency response through the integration of information, technology, and logistics.

 

 

How much did you need to start your business and how were you able to raise that capital?

We were able to raise about $25,000 in donations through competitions in the US and from people who supported our idea. Additionally, we invested about $30,000 of our own funds towards the start up of the company. With these start up funds, we were able to purchase flights to Nigeria,  the initial technology equipment we needed to get set-up, and support ourselves in Nigeria for the first 6 months until we got our first paying contract.

 

 

What are some of the challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome those challenges?

The major challenges we face in running our business are:

  • Difficulty in securing long-term funding for projects
    • Due to the “emergency” nature of many public health challenges in Nigeria, donor agencies tend to only give 1 year contracts. This makes it difficult for the organization to plan and scale because we have a short time to implement and future funding is uncertain.

 

  • Infrastructure and running costs are high
    • Power, internet, and equipment costs are high in Nigeria which makes it hard for us to do business at a low cost. We have tried to reduce some of these costs by investing in solar systems and purchasing equipment in bulk.

 

  • Lack of adequate talent in the locations we work
    • The technology scene is thriving in Lagos. However, it is very difficult to get people from that area to agree to move up to the North, which is where we need our staff based. Additionally, we work in some insecure areas in the North East and many people do not want to work in those areas.

 

 

Where do you see your business in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?

In 5 years, we see eHA having transitioned away from 100% donor funded projects to a more sustainable model where we provide people with high quality health services for a reasonable cost. This will allow more people to benefit from our work and provide the organization with longer-term initiatives.

 

Two areas that we are working on are:

  • Providing high-quality primary and secondary care through eHA developed and run health facilities. There is no reason for people to die because they can’t access basic primary care at a local clinic. eHA opened its first primary health clinic in Kano, Nigeria in July 2018 and our goal is to provide affordable and quality healthcare across Nigeria.

 

  • Providing health logistics services to government in order to ensure the public has access to vital health commodities, like vaccines and key medicines. Government should not be running their own supply chain. We believe that by outsourcing this task, we can increase the availability of drugs and health commodities across the country.

 

 

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?

Focus on providing quality and you will immediately stand out from all other businesses. Quality is the most important factor to retaining clients and expanding.

 

 

How is your business participating to the development of Africa?

I believe that Africa will not see its desired economic development until the general health of the population is improved.  A one-year improvement in a population’s life expectancy is associated with a 4% increase in output. (Bloom et al., 2004). Reducing health inequality by 1% per year could increase a country’s annual rate of GDP growth by 0.15%. This makes reducing health inequity by targeting the poorest children a very strong policy alternative for improving economic growth. (Grimm, 2010). eHA strives to play a major role in improving access to quality and affordable health care for underserved communities in Africa.

Last year, we vaccinated 78,000 children against Polio, and delivered over 9 million vaccination goods to health facilities across Nigeria. We’re excited about what we’ve achieved and optimistic that we can continue improve the quality of our delivery.

Over the years, our work covering health delivery, public health emergencies, disease surveillance, laboratory work, and nutrition support has contributed to improved health across West Africa. Check out our 2017 annual impact report to learn more about how we’re changing health care!

Any links to VDD?

success story: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59c4f88bd7bdce1454815703/t/5b5886bf03ce64ffc9167d1a/1532528320996/VDD.pdf

project case study: https://www.ehealthafrica.org/vdd

Afripreneur

Healthpoint: Providing Innovative Healthcare And Health Finance Solutions In Africa

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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.

Also Read: SMEs: Legal Tips For Office Space Acquisition | Morenike Okebu

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.

 

Kindly Visit: Healthpoint

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Afripreneur

Afripreneur Profile: Vumile Msweli, CEO At Hesed Consulting

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Vumile Msweli is the Chief Executive officer for Hesed consulting. A consulting firm specializing in commerce acceleration; career coaching; women empowerment; facilitation and training on the African continent, with presence in Nigeria and South Africa. She has previously worked for reputable multi-national institutions such as Barclays, Investec, Nedbank, First National Bank and Vodafone. Vumile is an Operations; Finance and Strategy executive with experience in both the telecommunications and finance sectors.

She has successfully led global teams in Africa (Nigeria; Kenya; Democratic Republic of Congo; Zambia; Lesotho; Ghana; Tanzania; Mozambique and South Africa); and Europe (Scotland; Isle of Man and England). These teams held various specialties such as Operations; Client Services; Strategy; Business Development and Risk Management. Vumile was most recently the Client Services Partner for Africa and the Middle East at Vodafone where she oversaw Service Strategy and Operations for Corporate Clients globally.

Vumile is an avid coach and international speaker having spoken in conferences; expos; workshops around the globe on topics such as leadership; women empowerment; finance matters and conducting business in Africa. She has spoken at the African Union in Ethiopia, Women’s Economic Forum in India USAID in Zambia and various organisations across the globe. She is the host of Vumi and Veuve host Women in Commerce as well as has her own regular weekly feature in Nigeria’s largest publication The Guardian.

Vumile has been featured in publications such as China’s Rare Birds(2018); The Guardian Nigeria (2018); True Love Magazine (2012); Destiny Magazine (2011; 2016 and 2017); Bona Magazine (2015); Essays of Africa Magazine (2016) as well as The Thinker magazine (2015). She has been featured on Ghana’s ETV, is regular contributor on SAFM (radio station) and was the business anchor for Voice of Wits (radio station). She’s a guest writer on business; finance issues and women empowerment for Essays of Africa and Destiny Connect.

 

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Commerce: Accounting Sciences (University of Pretoria)
  • Bachelor of Commerce: Finance Honours (University of Johannesburg)
  • Masters Business Administration (University of London, United Kingdom)
  • Executive Education (New York University, United States of America)
  • Executive Education (GIBS, South Africa and GIMPA, Ghana)
  • Doctorate Applied Leadership (UGSM, Switzerland currently studying)

 

Awards:

  • Women’s Economic Forum Woman of Excellence (2018)
  • Brand South Africa Play Your Part Ambassador (2018)
  • Black Management Forum Young Professional of the Year (2018)
  • 34th Most Influential Young South African by Avance Media (2018)
  • Gauteng Premier Award for Excellence in Leadership (2017)
  • ABSIP Game Changer (2016)
  • Mail and Guardian Top 200 most influential Young South Africans (2016)
  • Elle Boss of the Year in the Corporate Category (2016)
  • Gordon Institute of Business Science: VAEP (2016)
  • Vodafone CEO Award (2016)
  • University of Witwatersrand Radio’s Brand New Heavy in Business (2016)

Visit: hesedconsulting.co.za

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Afripreneur

Cooking As A Calling | Chef Femi Aliu

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It is a world filled with different people having different interests. So, I’m not surprised at all that we all see cooking differently.

To someone, cooking might just be a necessity because the stomach has grumbled for the umpteenth time. To another, cooking is a responsibility, either as a wife, mother, the only girl in the block or the eldest person in the house.

To yet another, cooking is a “no go area” …LOL. Indeed, it is a world full of many people, and what makes the world interesting is actually this diversity.

So, while there is a crop of persons fleeing from cooking, here I am, embracing the art of cooking as a lifestyle —better put, a calling.

Yes! Cooking for me, is a calling, my calling that I have positively responded to and have been walking the journey since the past 15 years.

Also Read SMEs: Legal Tips For Office Space Acquisition | Morenike Okebu

Responding to cooking as a call has left me from a mediocre state to an expert level, adding the title “Chef” to my name, a badge of honor I wear on with pride, fulfilling its course.

Food is one of the basic social amenities for humans made cooking highly essential and Important, hence, the swam of food vendors.

I, for a while, nursed the burden of wanting to see people eat tasty and healthy meals, and not only that, eat it at their own convenience. This particularly fueled my passion and love for cooking.

I can say that I am living a purposeful life with Cooking, because cooking, for me is beyond a business venture. It is a solution to a problem I saw, a purpose wherein I am able to attend to an urgent need and it has enabled me to reach out to the busy professionals, recovering patients, family, couples and friends.

 

I Am Chef Femi Aliu

Personal Chef/ Founder Chef Femi Culinary Services

 

www.cheffemi.com

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