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‘Africa must leverage best practices in medical technology to solve health challenges’

‘Africa must leverage best practices in medical technology to solve health challenges’

Today, people are increasingly suffering from burnout occasioned by financial stress, and the development is resulting in a high rate of mental illness. These issues not only affect human productivity levels but also pose a threat to human health. In this interview with select journalists, Nelson Ajulo, chief executive officer of 15 Wins and Zarttech Ventures, a Dutch venture builder that facilitates collaboration among investors, gave insight into the role of technology in addressing mental illness. He said globalisation and technology are helping to bring healing closer to the people as his company recently developed a new tech platform that addresses current and future problems as it relates to mental and spiritual wellness for people. He also spoke on key challenges and opportunities in the FinTech ecosystem, especially for Nigerian startups. Amaka Anagor-Ewuzie brings the excerpts:

Can you share insights on how technology helps to deliver holistic wellness?

Technology plays a very crucial role in ensuring physical and mental wellness in people because using technology we can connect best practices in Africa to European audiences. We can also bring best practices in Europe to the African audience. We can bring best practices in Asia, North America, and all over the world to people in other clime.

There are already best practices in spiritual solutions that help connect people to the source of pain to heal them better in a much more sustainable way without the use of medications.

So, this is the role that technology brings: we can now connect instantly through our app and see the best practitioners or the best solutions from different parts of the world. Individuals can join a forum on the platform and communities where people share testimonies about their experiences with different practitioners as they use technology to find the needed solution.

You recently rebranded from KoKo to Heilen. Could you talk us through the motivation behind the change and what customers should expect?

It is interesting because we only launched KoKo in January this year. Initially, KoKo showed a lot of potential due to our facilities and growth. However, as we went to market, we realised the service offering was too broad. As an organisation under the 15Wins venture, we aim to create technology that solves real-life challenges and helps people, contributing to humanity and equality.

Our goal with Heilen is to address current and future problems, focusing on holistic wellness. We saw that people are increasingly facing burnout and confusion in a modernised world, leading to gaps in family values, ownership, and mental health. We decided to make our services more specific, helping people find answers, access holistic healing, and contribute to community fulfilment.

Heilen, a German word for healing, will be a platform where people can access healing services at their fingertips. We are bringing the best practitioners onto our platform to connect them with those in need of healing solutions, focusing on holistic wellness, which involves the mind, body, and spirit.

How do economic factors in Africa and Europe impact the pricing and accessibility of your product?

There will be price differences due to currency disparities, but we promote international trade by allowing users to access services globally. This bilateral approach benefits both local and international practitioners and users, ensuring sustainability and accessibility. Local users can also access services within their regions at affordable prices, based on community reviews and conversations.

What is your growth projection in the African market compared to the European market over the next five years?

In Europe, spiritual healing is already a significant topic. In Africa, there is still a stigma, but we aim to change perceptions by introducing spiritual healing as a complement to traditional practices. We believe Heilen can contribute to economic growth by connecting local experts to international audiences and promoting trade and collaboration.

Where does Heilen fit into the startup ecosystem?

Heilen is categorised under the MedTech platform and also a FinTech platform that provides solutions to connect experts to people, payment settlements, and service bookings. The track that has been moved on our platform is spiritual medicine.

So, within the startup ecosystem, Heilen is considered a startup. We are about to launch a fundraising effort for $1.4 million in seed funding because the technology is ready, and we want to use the funding to scale the products into the market.

We are looking at utilising dual scaling approaches. The first step is to scale the product starting from the Netherlands, which will likely help us to extend to other neighbouring countries in Europe such as Germany, Belgium, and the UK. At the same time, we would scale in Nigeria.

This strategy will help us test and compare both markets to get the best from both places. Based on the traction that we get in both places, we would decide to double down or to have a focus area over time.

Additionally, it would help us understand how Heilen would perform in a developed economy compared to a developing economy. If we were successful in Nigeria, we would have already learned how to introduce the same solution in other developing economies in Africa, Asia, or other parts of the world.

Based on your experience, can you take us through an overview of the Nigerian startup ecosystem in terms of value?

There are lots of opportunities in Nigeria. The country is a huge economy and also a buying economy with a vast population of young who can utilise technology.

Nigeria is in a very interesting place to maximise its potential. Nigeria and indeed Africa have been overlooked and undermined by developed countries as a place with no or few possibilities, but that is not the case.

The reality is that there are a lot of beautiful opportunities in African expertise; the continent needs to understand how to leverage those best practices and help educate the global ecosystem about this opportunity as well as its value.

An example of how we will do this is through platforms like Heilen, where we will introduce some of the best practices of spiritual healing in Africa to the rest of the world for the first time.

What measures have you put in place to ensure a positive reception of the platform in the Nigerian market?

Policies will always affect any business, which is why we as entrepreneurs and innovators always lobby to ensure stakeholders understand what the platform is about and the solutions that we bring to the forefront.

Heilen is quite different because it is not replacing traditional medicines, hospitals, doctors, or nurses; rather, it is a place for spiritual healing. It is a complementary solution to traditional medicines.

On the platform, we have 11 verticals, and the last one is prayer, so indeed, Heilen is a place for holistic healing. It is a place where individuals can find different forms of healing at their fingertips; a place where, within the privacy and comfort of their homes, they can get connected to a whole community of like-minded people and find a solution that can help make them whole again.

As an expert in the FinTech ecosystem, why has Nigeria not produced Unicorns in the past five to seven years? Where is the disconnection or constraint?

As someone in the industry, I think sometimes unicorns are not the best. The idea of a unicorn is to pump in money, ramp up the business, and then exit. The whole aim is to exit and then sell the business to much bigger organisations from the United States of America or Europe.

We have not had many unicorns in Africa specifically in Nigeria in recent years. With my knowledge and familiarity with a lot of upcoming companies and some of our portfolio companies, I think it is just a matter of time before some of these organisations become unicorns. Definitely, within the 15Wins portfolio, we have unicorn material platforms within the ecosystem.

What are the criteria you use to select the startups and ventures that you support?

In terms of selecting a startup to support, we look out for products and solutions that impact society because when you invest in solutions that create a social impact, by default, you make a profit.

Innovation is not only about solutions to make money but about solving societal issues. So, we are always looking for solutions that solve societal issues and move humanity forward, not backwards.

Our investment portfolio includes solutions that impact society positively, driving both profit and social good. We foster collaboration by leveraging each venture’s infrastructure and expertise, ensuring they support and enhance each other’s growth. This interconnected approach strengthens the ecosystem by promoting sustainable development.

If you look at our investment portfolio, almost all of them are on the same vertical, so they can all interchange in terms of technology infrastructures, human capital, process, and administrative support.

What do you see as the future for ventures like Heilen in Nigeria, considering the economic challenges?

Heilen can stimulate economic growth by connecting experts with those in need of healing, promoting both local and international trade. This connectivity fosters community well-being, enabling people to work better and collaborate more effectively. We believe Heilen will contribute to Nigeria’s economic prosperity by addressing holistic wellness needs and fostering human connections.