Women entrepreneurs in Africa transform healthcare
In what was Africa’s male-dominated tech scene there is an unstoppable rise of incredible women who are launching and building successful, innovative digital health companies, setting new standards and transforming the digital health landscape on the continent.
In recent years the number of women in the digital health industry in Africa has seen a rapid rise, with the increase in the number of programs focused on teaching and nurturing tech skills among women and girls on the continent as well as an increase in the number of tech hubs focused on incubating their startups.
These women are creative and innovative, and among them, there are those whose solutions truly stand out, have raised huge amounts in seed funding(more than US$500K), banged different awards and have earned themselves great recognition and respect in the health ecosystem. Their products range from the phenomenal medicine and aviation to low-cost health insurance and creative blood supply chain.
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10 Successful Women digital health entrepreneurs in Africa
1. Dr. Ola Orekunrin
About her venture: Flying Doctors Nigeria, is West Africa’s first and leading indigenous air ambulance service organization, combining medicine and aviation to transport patients across the region in medically equipped air crafts for quick medical care, and to the right medical facilities at the right time frame. Currently in its third year, the Lagos-based company has so far airlifted about 500 patients, using a fleet of planes and helicopters to rapidly move injured workers and critically ill people from remote areas to hospitals and has about 20 charter aircraft available 24/7; same as those used by leading air ambulances in UK, USA and Canada.
Awards: 2017 Aviation Most Remarkable Medical Personality Award, Nigeria Aviation Awards, Silverbird 2017 Man of the Year Award, Lionesses of Africa
About her venture: Wazi Vision a mobile application that uses virtual reality technology to perform visual acuity tests. The goal is to bring eye testing closer to people in areas that have health centres that otherwise cannot afford expensive eye testing equipment, the company then provides the children whose eyes have been tested with affordable eyeglasses that are made out of recycled plastic by local female artisans in Uganda.
Awards: 2013 ITU Telecom World Young Innovators Competition Winner., Female Entrepreneur of the Year – African Rethink Awards.
Funding: $25,000 , 2016 USADF YALI Entrepreneurship Grant Winners
3.Lilian Makoi Rabi
About her venture: Jamii (bimaAFYA), offers mobile micro-health insurance for the low income and informal sector, enabling healthcare services by drastically reducing costs with its completely mobile, paperless solution.
Award: Tanzanian leg of the Seedstars competition, Most Innovative Woman in Technology, Africa 2016 by The World Economic Forum, AfricaCom Ahub ‘pitch & win’ session, and Founding women spotlight
Funding: US$750k, seed round
4. Tizzita Tefera
About her venture: mTena an SMS-based application that provides tailored maternal and infant care information to women. With the use of simple text messages, mTena is tailored towards providing information on prevalent feelings associated with pregnancy, dietary tips, and visitation notification among another while at the same time being inclusive to the spouse with specific tailor-made messages. Thus mTena allows the partners to take part in the care and well being of their expectant partners and ensuring that abnormalities are detected in time.
Awards: Youth Champions Initiative, Shortlisted for the Spring Accelerator program 2017, Reach for Change Incubator 2016 Winner, Reach for change Accelerator 2015 winner, and Founding women spotlight
About her venture LifeBank which helps hospitals discover blood and other essential medical supplies and deliver to the hospital in the right condition. They deploy mobile and web technology, smart logistics, and Artificial Intelligence to build an end to end marketplace and cold chain logistics.
Awards: The BBC 100 Women. 2014, Quartz African Innovators List, 2017
Funding: €50,000, Merck Accelerator program 2018
6. Chika Madubuko
About her venture: Greymate Care, focuses on getting access to qualified, experienced and fully vetted care for those elderly family members who wish to stay at home. Its online platform connects specialist carers to those in need of care.
Awards: She Means Business Digital Challenge, She Leads Africa
Funding: US$1,385, She Means Business Digital Challenge
7. Nneile Nkholise
About her venture: iMed Tech, a medical innovation start-up which produces prosthetics for cancer patients and burns victims using Additive Manufacturing to fabricate prostheses with 3D modelling software and layering material. Nhkolise’s current goal is to supply 1 000 prostheses to 1 000 women in South Africa, who cannot afford it. By making quality replacements at a lower cost, she’s changing the face of medical technology.
Awards: The presidential award for Science, Innovation, and Technology at the 2017 South African Youth Awards, Africa’s top female innovators at the World Economic Forum in 2016.
Country: South Africa
8. Nanyombi Margaret Pearl
About her venture: HerHealth BVKit a simple tool that allows women to self-test for bacterial vaginosis (BV). All the test requires is that a woman urinates into a cup and dip a sensor into the fluid. The sensor then communicates with a smartphone app via Bluetooth and works out if there’s an issue. It even lists nearby doctors if it does detect something, and, perhaps best of all, it is reusable.
Awards: The Aspirin Social Innovation Award 2017.
About her venture: Dabadoc an online platform that allows instant doctor appointment bookings by streamlining the patient-doctor relationship. The platform was launched in 2014 and is now the largest online booking platform for doctors in Africa with more than one million patients and thousands of doctors.
Awards: 1st place winner GIST Competition, 3rd place winner SeedStars World – Regional Competition, the World Economic Forum Switzerland, January 2016, the Aspen-Blackstone program in the Silicon Valley, January 2015.
10. Gaby Lobban
About her venture: Zumbudda a technology company which has launched a website offering Real-Time E-Chats with healthcare professionals (Experts) to people looking for advice. The technology used is proprietary software which allows the expert to charge a set rate per minute and anyone can sign up to chat using credits purchased through an approved payment gateway.
Country: South Africa.
Awards: Lionesses of Africa