• Thursday, September 28, 2023
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‘Ensuring a healthy population is central to human capital achieving its greatest potential’

‘Ensuring a healthy population is central to human capital achieving its greatest potential’

With the challenges of accessing quality healthcare in the country, some young entrepreneurs have gone out of their way to find solutions with tech-based initiatives, which have seen three young Nigerian entrepreneurs emerge among Top 20 in the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) 2023.

In this joint interview, Ikpeme Neto, CEO and founder, Wellahealth Technologies; Funmi Adewara, CEO and founder, Mobihealthcare Limited and Bryan Mezue, co-founder and director, Lifestores Healthcare, speaks to Obinna Emelike on their respective inventions, their impacts, focus on healthcare, and chances at the ABH semi finals and finals this year.


Funmi Adewara, CEO and founder, Mobihealthcare Limited
Funmi Adewara, CEO and founder, Mobihealthcare Limited

Congratulations for making the Top 20 Finalists of Africa’s Business Heroes 2023. How do you feel about reaching this level of the competition?

It is a mixed feeling of excitement and fear. I feel so honoured that our work caught the attention of multiple judges during round 1 and round 2 of the competition amongst many others. It gives an incredible feeling of joy, that our work could get such a level of validation.

Nonetheless, there is this feeling of fear because the stakes are even higher now that we are so close to the finish line but getting into the ABH heroes community in itself is a great achievement as we hope to leverage the network and relationships to further our mission via partnership/collaborations.

What is Mobihealth, your initiative all about?

Mobihealth is a multi-award-winning integrated telehealth provider leveraging on technology to deliver healthcare to Nigerians conveniently from their mobile phones, computers and walk-in teleclinics. Through our platform users can connect with doctors in Nigeria and any part of the world seamlessly within minutes compared to hours of travelling and waiting in the hospital. We offer a one-stop solution and through third party partnerships users have access to genuine medicines, diagnostics and wellness programs.

We have impacted more than 100,000 lives to date, reducing time to diagnosis and treatment by over 70 percent, and improving access to reproductive, maternal and child health by over 70 percent. We are helping those with chronic diseases manage their health better through remote consultations and monitoring.

We are particularly proud of the impact of our interventions in the rural hard to reach areas where we have successfully deployed solar and internet powered telehealth clinics. More than 70 percent of Nigeria’s population live in rural communities with sparse health facilities and shortage of personnels. Our telehealth clinics are connecting them to doctors and medical services that were ordinarily beyond their reach.

Do you think Nigeria deserves a growing representation in the ABH competition?

Yes absolutely, considering Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent and one of the big4 tech hubs, I’d perhaps say we deserve more given that Egypt and Kenya have 5 and 3 respectively in the top20.

What are your expectations for the ABH Semi-finale this September?

I am already very excited about being part of the ABH community regardless of ultimate outcome, although I want to go all the way to the top. The ABH community offers access to quality networking opportunities with investors and other entrepreneurs as well as master classes on various subjects that could support business growth.

So, getting into the ABH Heroes community is in itself a great achievement and we hope to leverage the network and relationships to further our mission via partnership/collaborations.

Bryan Mezue, co-founder and director, Lifestores Healthcare
Bryan Mezue, co-founder and director, Lifestores Healthcare

What is Lifestores Healthcare all about?

Lifestores’ mission is to build a world where individuals have access to affordable and quality healthcare irrespective of their background or where they live. We are actively democratizing healthcare access in Nigeria by digitizing pharmacies, supporting them with their procurement needs, inventory management and patient services.

Can you tell a little of the impact it has made?

Pharmacies and healthcare providers sometimes face challenges procuring authentic high-quality medicines, forecasting demand, financing their operations and building patient loyalty. Our range of services has helped over 1000 pharmacies and the thousands of patients they serve each month to solve many of these issues.

For example, our digital procurement service enables pharmacies to buy many medicines up to 10 percent cheaper than their traditional suppliers, and they often pass these savings on to patients; similarly, our point-of-sale software is designed to help pharmacies smoothly make in-store sales, organize patient data and remind patients when their prescriptions need refills.

How beneficial is the ABH competition to you and other contestants?

The ABH competition has been a wonderful learning experience for our team. We have been challenged and encouraged by highly knowledgeable judges, and the breadth of support has been impressive. I would recommend it for any African startups and founders with ambitious missions.

Which contestant or initiative do you think is exceptional and why?

I have had the privilege of spending quality time with most of the Top 20 ABH contestants, and I can say that they are genuinely all exceptional founders working on important problems and making brilliant progress. From healthcare to agriculture to sustainable energy, I am encouraged by the level of passion these founders are bringing to age-old African problems. I especially look forward to working closely with the other Nigerian founders over the coming months.

Do you think you will make it to the next stage after the September pitch at the ABH semi-finale? Why?

Unfortunately, our team did not make it to the Top 10 finale, but we are excited to continue being part of the ABH community and are looking forward to cheering the Top 10 finalists!

Ikpeme Neto, CEO and founder, Wellahealth Technologies
Ikpeme Neto, CEO and founder, Wellahealth Technologies

Congratulations on representing your country at the ABH 2023. What stands out your initiative from the other 20 finalists?

Thank you. All the 20 finalists are impressive entrepreneurs with great businesses that are making a difference across Africa. We all have done a great job to get this far and deserve significant accolades. Our work at Wellahealth is focused on making great healthcare affordable for the average African. As the saying goes, ‘health is wealth’, we believe that our healthcare focus helps to contribute significantly to the wellbeing of Africans and their ability to work well in the businesses that are finalists.

Read also: Nigerian tech firms urge investment in upskilling talent to bridge skill gap

Do you think other countries have a chance at the star prize?

I think all the finalists have a chance because every single one is an incredible business making lots of difference in the lives of Africans. It is yet to be seen how things will turn out but I believe that Nigerian entrepreneurs in this field are phenomenal and will have a great outing and make the country proud.

Three of you from Nigeria are coming with health-related initiatives, why the focus on health?

Healthcare is the bedrock of all human endeavour. Without health we have nothing. When we have a sick population, we cannot be productive, and the economy suffers. Nigeria needs to grow its economy significantly by focusing on its human capital. Ensuring a healthy population is central to that human capital achieving its greatest potential. The organizers of ABH recognize this and have seen the work of these Healthcare entrepreneurs hence our presence in the competition.

What if you did not scale the huddle in Rwanda this September?

As an entrepreneur, one must be optimistic and keep pushing ahead regardless of any setback. So regardless of how this turns out in Rwanda, we will continue to sell our affordable health plans, work with our healthcare providers and ensure we bring affordable healthcare to not just Nigerians but scale across Africa. This process has put me in touch with many other African entrepreneurs and I am excited to be able to go launch our business in other countries across Africa.

How do you feel about the continued sponsorship of the competition by the Jack Ma Foundation?

The Jack ma foundation has done a phenomenal job to commit huge resources and effort to promoting African businesses. We cannot be grateful enough to them. We are excited for the network and exposure they’re building and look forward to growing our business on the back of this effort they’ve put in to support African businesses.