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Interview: Medixus is connecting the world’s medical community, starting with Africa – Nicole Kayode

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Nicole Kayode, Co-founder at Medixus

Quality patient care relies on smooth communication between healthcare professionals, and access to resources that will further their development. This is a global truth, particularly in developing countries where there is growing demand for improved health services. In this e-Interview, Nicole Kayode speaks with Alaba Ayinuola, on how Medixus is connecting health professionals of all backgrounds and levels of experience through its mobile and web platform for virtual mentors, making CPD resources and peer-to-peer discussions accessible for all. Excerpts.

 

 

Alaba: Tell us about Medixus and the role you play?

Nicole: Medixus is a mobile and web based application for healthcare workers across the African continent to collaborate on challenging patient cases. The idea is largely that through knowledge sharing and community, we can empower healthcare workers to make better clinical decisions, provide peer support and ultimately improve patient care.

I am the co-founder of Medixus, having had the idea following personal loss in the Nigerian healthcare system. My role is very broad as we are a small team so everyone does a bit of everything! The primary thing I spend my time thinking about is how to scale the business so we can drive the highest impact possible.

Alaba: What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?

Nicole: We started Medixus with no capital! We are still bootstrapped – we run the business out of our own pocket at the moment. Through a combination of savings, and working we make sure that the little money we do have goes as far as possible, and be as impactful as possible. We are looking to begin raising some capital now that we’ve gotten some market validation though and primarily doing this through reaching out to very early stage investors and venture capitalists all over the world, including many on the continent.

 

Alaba: What are the challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?

Nicole: One of the challenges with any tech company is product market fit – does the product you have fit the markets needs? This is an ongoing process of learning and iterating! The competition is mainly the traditional communication platforms that medics use at the moment (e.g. Whatsapp and Facebook) though we hope, through our product market fit, to overcome this by building a ‘for purpose’ communication platform which makes their lives a bit easier. Primarily we do this by listening to our users, and iterating the product based on their realities.

Alaba: What is the future for Medixus and what steps are you taking in achieving them?

Nicole: We hope Medixus will scale globally one day, but first be known as a proudly African product. I truly believe that there is potential to drive massive impact through the platform in multiple ways. One of these is by supporting healthcare workers and reducing any potential sense of professional isolation (no woman is an island). Another is through empowering healthcare workers, of all cadres eventually, to make the most informed clinical decisions thus transferring the benefits directly to their patients.

To get there we are really pushing to get the word out about the platform to doctors across the continent, with a focus on Kenya initially, to get them signing up and using the platform. We hope this will give us lots of data and feedback so we can continue to improve and grow the community.

 

Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa’s health ecosystem?

Nicole: We know that we have a problem on the continent in terms of our doctor to patient ratio – which is two pronged: not training enough doctors and not retaining the doctors we do have. Among other reasons, medics say that lack of professional support and mentorship is one of the reasons they leave the continent to seek pastures anew. We hope through creating this pan-African medical community we can go some way to reducing this by ensuring that support and mentorship are available in real time, at the touch of a button.

We are also creating a sustainable portal for knowledge sharing  – once I have learned that a particular symptom is cause to investigate a certain condition, I will have that knowledge forever. This contributes to the ‘capacity building’ of our healthcare workers that we often hear banded around in discussions about healthcare in Africa, but in such a way that centers the individuality of each healthcare worker on the platform and their unique knowledge needs.

 

Alaba: What is your view on the development of Africa business ecosystem?

Nicole: This is a very big question!  I think this is impossible to answer well at a continent wide level as all the individual countries on the continent are at different stages in the business ecosystem development timeline – some are more advanced in certain sectors than others, some have more mature startup ecosystems than others etc. but broadly speaking, the continent is becoming an increasingly favorable environment to do business.

There are many market opportunities, but also challenges that come with the youthfulness of the ecosystems that trailblazers have to overcome. A greater emphasis on public-private partnerships seems to be flavor of the moment, and as we’ve seen more institutional investment money is flowing into the continent in the form of startup investments.

 

Alaba: What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?

Nicole: Much the same as the advice I would give to any entrepreneur anywhere!

  • Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • Don’t worry if things take much, much longer than you hoped – if you don’t have a huge amount of cash to invest upfront often it will be a longer journey.
  • Don’t believe the hype of an ‘overnight success’ story – nothing happens overnight, almost always there was years of ground work behind that success.
  • Do validate your market; is there a genuine need for your product? Don’t be afraid to tweak your original product based on what the market tells you!

My advice to those investing in Africa is a bit simple: don’t be scared of our continent. Most entrepreneurs here fail because of lack of capital, not because the idea wasn’t needed or well executed. We need more investors who are willing to invest in early stage businesses, who are willing to back the founders and take a risk early on rather than only talking about it.

 

Alaba: How does it feel to be an African entrepreneur?

Nicole: I feel very proud to be an African entrepreneur! I think entrepreneurial spirit runs in the cultural make up of many of us – particularly we Nigerians where hustle is practically a birthright! I am also aware though of my role as an African in diaspora, and what that means for our business – it is important also to bring on board the perspectives, advice and deep local know-how of those who have grown up on the continent. I feel a sense of pride at being able to contribute to the betterment of our continent and contribute to changing, or at least widening, the Western narrative around Africa which is centered on dooms and glooms.

We are a continent with problems, just like any other region of the world, the West included – but we are also a continent of innovation, energy, pride and beauty.

 

Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?

Nicole: I am very into yoga, and actually qualified as a yoga teacher this time last year – I find it helps you find a sense of calm and acceptance when things get tricky on and off the mat. That really helps to relax me and is probably the only form of ‘exercise’ I do!

I read a range of books, as I have gotten older I make a concerted effort to read fiction written by African authors but I also read a lot of non-fiction books about science, neuroscience & psychology since I am slightly obsessed with understanding  why things are the way they are. I’m also trying to read more about the history of our continent as written by African authors – one I’m working through at the moment is called The History of the Yorubas written by a Nigerian Reverend called Samuel Johnson.

  

 

Short Bio:

Nicole is a Nigerian-British entrepreneur with a background in medical research and a passion for using technology to improve healthcare across the continent. Having worked in start-ups most of her professional life in business and product development roles, she decided to combine her interest for technology, business and healthcare in Africa by launching Medixus.

Kindly Visit: medixus.co

Afripreneur

Interview with Monica Sekhmet Grant, President of Young Boss Media Inc.

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Monica Sekhmet Grant is the true definition of a Young Boss. She’s been employing workers, building organizations, and producing her own products since her college days. A native of Ypsilanti Michigan but raised in North Augusta South Carolina. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Monica shares her entrepreneurship journey, humanitarian initiatives, book launch and the future for Young Boss Media Inc. Excerpt.

Alaba: Could you tell us about Young Boss Media Inc and the gap its filling?

Monica: Young Boss Media Inc. produces media that will empower under-represented communities to gain ownership over their image, voice and economic & political future. Hollywood and broadcast TV are under-represented in gender, age, ethnicity and sexual status. This lack of representation excludes certain groups from obtaining information and resources that have the power to enhance their ability to thrive in a challenging economy. Young Boss Media is on a mission to change that!

Our mission is to produce high-quality content that engages under-represented communities while building a multi-media network dedicated to social impact influencers and to cultivate an online and offline community of innovation, artistry, entrepreneurship and activism.

Alaba: What sparked your interest into the media space and how did you come up with the name?

Monica: By trade I was a community and labor organizer and I’ve always had a passion for economics. Around the age of 10, I started asking “Why are some people rich, while others are poor.”  In America, the Old Boss is the plantation owner, the factory manager, the 9-5 hustle that drained your energy and only gave you enough money to make it back to work the next day. The Old Boss in media was the White Blonde Face with White Blonde stories that did not reflect my community but still dominated what we saw on television.

In 2015, I started producing shows in New York City for another entrepreneur name Bonnie Bruderer. I learned how to build a media network from her. On March 22, 2017, I launched my first talk show under Young Boss Media called Master Plan and the rest is history. We’ve grown into a global media network with 30 producers, hosts and interns producing content around the clock.

Alaba: Since the launch of your platform, what are your achievements? And how do you measure impact?

Monica: The greatest achievement is seeing my people happy. I get calls, texts, and emails everyday saying how powerful our shows are. I strive to make my ancestors happy. If they are pleased, then I am rich.

Alaba: Do you think luck played a role in your success story?

Monica: I got lucky being born in America, that’s about it. I worked for everything else.

Alaba: Did you venture alone? What was the hardest part in the early stages of the company’s growth?

Monica: Young Boss Media has 30 host, producers, and interns now but in the beginning, it was just me. I wanted to partner with people because that’s who I am by nature, but many people proved that they weren’t ready for the long-haul. I don’t believe in the get rich quick hustle. You put in the work every day, doing work that you love to do and then you sleep with a smile. That’sit. The rewards will come.

I learned to do things on my own and to trust my own vision. If I wanted something to be done, it’s up to me to do it. I prayed for the right people to come into my life and eventually they all did and at the right time too. I don’t’ let people stress me. I trust my instinct and if it’s not the right vibe, I keep it moving.

Alaba: How are you navigating the impact of COVID-19 in your industry? Are you post COVID-19 ready?

Monica: I love it, everything is virtual, and everyone finally sees the importance of independent media. It feels like I have been preparing for this moment since the 2008 recession and now that it’s here I’m calm cool and in control of my destiny. God bless all of those impacted negatively by Corona. We must remain safe and follow God.

Alaba: What is your plan for young media entrepreneurs especially the female entrepreneurs in terms of support?

Monica: Young Boss Media Activist Institute is a non-profit organization focused on increasing social justice activism and entrepreneurship via media training. We allow young people of color to produce TV shows, build websites and work behind the scenes of Young Boss Media. I teach our students how to be independent and not look for a job but instead they can be the one to create opportunities for themselves. I don’t baby my students. They must work for their respect. Entrepreneurs don’t take days off. They know that this is not a hobby. My students learn how to build an empire.

I give freely to all of my students regardless of gender or ethnicity but based on who they are I tell them the truth about what to expect in this industry. Women must speak up and not wait to be called on. They must learn to stop doubting themselves and to accept failure as a beautiful part of the process.  Men must learn when to ask for input and not think that everything is about them. Every industry is becoming more women dominate, so they learn how to play well with others by working with me. For all of my students they must know that they can’t fool me. I’ve lived a full life and I know when you’re scamming and scheming.

Alaba: What’s the future for Young Boss Media Inc?

Monica: 24-hour programming of globally produced continent. We are looking for producers and hosts for our African initiative Young Boss Africa. I am also launching my 4th book, Mind Your Business and Prosper on August 17th, 2020. You can order it on YoungBossMedia.com

Alaba: Can you tell us about your humanitarian activities and your new book?

Monica: Humanitarian Activities:

Young Boss Media Activist Institute

Reocomm Foundation

Fight for Fight Campaign

Black Lives Matter

Climate Reality Corps

Organizing a Pan-African Credit Union in the Bronx

Organizing daycare workers, domestic workers, EMS workers and taxi drives into a labor union.

Mind Your Business and Prosper is the blueprint for business success. Written for students transitioning into adulthood, struggling to find their identity but are driven to have their voice heard and make an impact on the world. Monica proves that you don’t have to wait until you’re 50 years old to be successful. Instead, you can live an amazing fulfilled life right now. 

Global Release is August 17, 2020.

Alaba: When are you coming to Africa and where would you love to visit?

Monica: As soon as possible. My DNA traces back to Kenya and Nigeria so those are first on my list. I also love and adore Senegal. I must get to South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt and Mauritius as well. But honestly,I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures of Africa that I’m ready to spend most of my time country-hopping for the next year or two, recording and documenting my experience.

Alaba: How do you relax and fun fact about you?

Monica: I spend quality with my family, eating laughing and going to the beach. I enjoy talking to my Vice President Raphael about business ideas and him fully understanding my vision. We can’t take the people in our life for granted. They are special.

Fun Fact: I taught myself how to play the saxophone in college.

Also Read: Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade: Casa Foundation, Career and Impact (Biography)

B I O G R A P H Y

Monica Sekhmet Grant is the true definition of a Young Boss. She’s been employing workers, building organizations, and producing her own products since her college days. A native of Ypsilanti Michigan but raised in North Augusta South Carolina, Monica studied business at Delaware State University because she wanted to understand how some people continued to get richer while others remained poor.

After college, Monica moved to New York City and made a career of empowering Black and Brown communities through life coaching and community organizing. “One builds personal power while the other build collective power. Each one is vital and should not be isolated.” Monica is an advocate for economic justice and fairness, for all communities especially her own.  She believes that most men and women of African descent naturally desire to live in safe prosperous communities that support economic growth. 

She has campaigned for workers’ rights with the Fight For $15 Campaign, the Service Employees International Union, and AFSCME International Labor Union. On March 22, 2017, Monica launched what would become the most rewarding project of her life, Young Boss Media. An idea to interview entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities quickly expanded into a television network consisting of young Black producers and hosts that never believed they would one day be on TV. Monica believes in giving people the opportunity to produce media that will uplift their community, even if their community is not hers. 

Monica is currently based in New York City. On June 19, 2020, she announced the release date of her autobiographical, self-help workbook, Mind Your Business and Prosper: A Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Being Successful. Her goal is to provide mentorship to new entrepreneurs in a down to Earth manner that wasn’t available when she was a student. Mind Your Business and Prosper will launch globally on August 17, 2020.  Young Boss Media is also expanding into Africa with Young Boss Africa, an initiative to highlight innovation among youth on the African continent. 

Visit: YoungBossMedia.com

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Meseret Haileyesus – The Ethiopian Canadian Women Leader Creating Impact

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Meseret Haileyesus, founder of the Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment (Image Credit: Meseret Haileyesus)

Meseret Haileyesus is a social justice advocate, change-maker, intersectional feminist, and entrepreneur. Founder of the Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE) with a keen interest in addressing systemic barriers and other challenges that prevent women and girls from fully realizing their human rights. CCFWE is the only Canadian  Nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of economic abuse and transforming responses to it.

Meseret works to influence public policy decisions that support domestic violence survivors to make a successful transition to economic independence. She seeks to fill the gaps for the development of new approaches to address economic injustice by reviewing existing systems, policies, and procedures in Canada. The Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE) highlights the issue of economic injustice through responding to national policy consultations and working with individuals in local and national government.

Born and raised in Ethiopia and now living in Canada, for decades she has worked tirelessly to advocate for women and child health around the world as well as economic empowerment for women and marginalized peoples. With a background in, midwifery, economics, global health, and Aromatherapy, she drives social change by advocating for high-quality and accessible sexual and reproductive healthcare for women on a global scale, with a goal of ending gender-based violence.

Her passion for gender equality has led her to spend over 16 years, working with various national and international non-profit organizations on dozens of projects centered on issues of HIV/AIDS prevention, poverty reduction, sexual and reproductive health right, quality of maternal and newborn health, and building community capacity to take action to advance social justice initiatives.

Past community involvement includes the Alberta Community Council for HIV/AIDS, Alberta Health Services, University of Alberta, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Laurentian University, Canadian Network for Society Network, Women in Edmonton, World Bank Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs & UN Women- Women’s Economic Empowerment, UNICEF, African Medical Research Foundation, Jpiego- affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, Johns Snow Institute and Ethioaid Canada.

Meseret is a member of multiple UN and World Health Organization programs, where she produces strategies to reinforce the reproductive health components for health sector reform programs in developing countries. She serves as an ambassador for World Pulse, a global network to amplify women as well as an ambassador for the RHEALYZ Global Empowerment Initiative Africa, a Nigerian organization that helps individuals, families, and organizations achieve Sustainable Development Goals. She is also President for Global Humanitarian Community, and Director for End FGM Canada Network.

Prior to relocating to Canada in, Meseret works on Maternal and child health programs particularly on Maternal Child Health and reproductive health rights, where she had the profound pleasure of assisting many marginalized pregnant African women through the amazing journey of pregnancy, childbirth, and new motherhood in Ethiopia. These experiences combined with her lifelong commitment to gender equality and women’s health and well-being led Meseret to found Maternity Today, an international non-profit organization that strengthens women and child health through superior advocacy, research, and education in developing countries.

Beyond her social justice and public health involvement, Meseret is also the owner of Nacre Organics, and an advocate with David Suzuki Foundation for the promotion of nontoxic green personal care products, “biodegradable plastic-waste free planet” and zero-waste packaging.

As a health and wellness industry entrepreneur, she is also a program advisor at Algonquin College’s Esthetician and Spa program. Nacre Organics is plant-based wellness and lifestyle brand she launched with her daughter that helps protect, elevate, refresh, relax, moisturize and groom the body and mind.  Meseret’s mission is to create exquisite skincare, drawing upon her knowledge of Clinical Aromatherapy and natural skincare formulation, vitality, and wellness.

Also Read: African Sunsets Travel: Digitizing high end luxury safari experiences

Nacre organics was born out of her determination to formulate and hand produce skincare with love, made with the finest, raw ingredients for radiant, blissfully youthful, healthy skin. She was also a co-founder of Novigo Natural Skin Care.  A percentage of the profits are donated to support domestic violence survivors.

Meseret was named one of the 100 Most Accomplished Black Canadian Women and nominees for several awards. She is a proud mother of one beautiful daughter who inspires and motivates her every day.

Visit: CCFWE

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Viero: A SaaS Platform Enabling Entrepreneurs Create Food Delivery App Without Code In 60 Seconds

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Viero & Zistify Founders, Basheer Phiri and Hopewell Fakude

Launching a food delivery start-up requires an entrepreneur to manage 4 aspects; Restaurants, Delivery Agents, Customers, and the most costly of them all, an application. Building a food delivery application can cost up to $60 000. There are also additional costs that need to be paid on a monthly basis to maintain and improve the application. “This is a major barrier to entry into the food delivery industry in Africa” said Basheer Phiri, the founder and CEO of Viero.

“Because of these high costs, we see a lot of food delivery Startups all over Africa serving the urban market, because it is big, and has enough customers to cover the development and maintenance costs and make a profit.” Basheer believes that food delivery Startups do not target township and non-urban areas because these markets need to be built from the group up, which means additional marketing costs and slower growth and adoption rates.

Therefore, coupled with the need to cover maintenance costs and the demand for growth and traction from investors, food delivery Startups prefer competing in the already established urban markets. This has led to high concentration in urban markets while non-urban markets remain relatively untapped.

“We saw this and realised that there was value that could be created” said Basheer. “After speaking to a few interested entrepreneurs, we saw that they could manage every aspect of the food delivery business, but could not afford to pay for an App. That is how Viero was born”

Viero is a SaaS Platform that enables entrepreneurs to create a food delivery web application with no code in 60 seconds. (Here’s how it works – https://youtu.be/1T9oxNtRDpM).

The platform built a standard food delivery application template and enables it to be cloned, rebranded and hosted through white-labelling. Entrepreneurs can use the application under a monthly subscription and have access to many features depending on their chosen plan. Entrepreneurs can also make changes to the layout and design of their app, all without any code.

Launched in South Africa on 1 June 2020, the platform has achieved amazing uptake thus far. 22 Apps in total have been created with 2 Food delivery Startups that are live and operating in South Africa and 20 other Startups preparing for launch. 108 orders have been delivered, with R4700 processed in transactions, 200 customer users, 16 listed stores and 45 delivery agents. 

Viero was launched by UCT students Basheer Phiri and Hopewell Fakude. They met in their first year in 2018 as residents of Smuts Hall Residence at The University of Cape Town, when they were introduced by a mutual friend who noticed their passion for entrepreneurship. Since then, they have worked together on several Startups and projects.

Also Read: Radisson Hotel Group announces new appointments to drive its expansion for Africa

Basheer and Hopewell are not new to the food delivery industry. In 2019, they launched Zistify, a food delivery start-up for the university market. Zistify delivers food ordered from food vendors on campus through it’s app to university students and staff. 

Viero is in capable hands and is ready to disrupt the food delivery industry in Africa. Currently raising a $100 000 seed round to incorporate logistics into its business offering, to bring in more talent to the team, and to continue building and improving the platform.

Connect with them here Website|Instagram|Twitter |Facebook

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