SMS & Voice notification solutions to track antenatal care and immunization sessions.
PLACE: Yaounde / Cameroon
At the CeBIT I met Dr. Agbor ASHU from giftedMom, a health care startup from Cameroon. He is the Program Officer, Impact Monitoring & Evaluation. We talked about maternal and infant mortality in Africa and their way to work on this problem.
Where did the story of giftedMom begin?
Dr. Agbor ASHU: The idea of giftedMom came up in 2012 when a young engineer, Alain Nteff, went to visit his friend Conrad Tankou, at that time an intern in a rural community. He noticed that in about a week about seventeen infants had died prematurely. The reason for these deaths was that women don’t have the information that is put in place by the government regarding the follow up of their pregnancy. The question was: why was it that despite this high penetration of technology these women still died due to lack of information? So Alain decided: Let’s try an idea. We will send messages to the women to remind them to come for the antenatal care session. And he noticed that soon the rate of antenatal care sessions had increased by 25 percent in that community.
So he said: Ok, let’s build a team, which was made up of engineers, medical doctors and administrative personnel. Our vision is to create a world where a woman does not die while giving birth. So he came up with the idea of giftedMom to fight maternal and infant mortality by improving maternal health care. The signature of GiftedMom is an SMS and voice-driven platform that reminds pregnant women and nursing mothers about the next antenatal care session or vaccination of their babies respectively. And also empowering women with life saving information. Women also have the possibility of posing their health concerns to a toll free number and receive advice from a medical doctor.
You started with 8 women who subscribed to your service. Now you have more than 6700 registered pregnant women and newborns. How do you popularize giftedMom?
Dr. Agbor ASHU: We have volunteers who go out to the hospitals sensitizing these women and later collect their data. Working in partnership with hospitals is a great way to popularize our services. Also we try to promote ourselves through social media on our Facebook page and on Twitter. We have a website where people can get information and we try to keep it up to date and active always. Radio, television and newspapers are great ways we popularize ourselves.
What are your challenges?
Dr. Agbor ASHU: GiftedMom also has some challenges especially as a young start-up in Cameroon. Some of these challenges involve Finance, Human Resources, and lack of best governing practices. To overcome these weaknesses, GiftedMom has a Board of Directors consisting of 5 members to promote good governance and accountability. With more investments, GiftedMom will increase skilled human resources and inventory.
How did you fund the startup?
Dr. Agbor ASHU: The founder of giftedMom, Alain Nteff, once worked for Google as a Google ambassador. He found this challenge, the Anzisha prize award organized by the MasterCard foundation and he said: these guys are looking for young entrepreneurs, we should apply and see what comes out of it. The challenge took place in South Africa, he applied and suddenly he was taken among the Top Ten.
He was the first place winner with the greatest idea and the best startup in Africa and that gave us some funds to begin – 25.000 dollars to start the company and bring in experts and technicians who could begin the process.
That is how giftedMom started from a grant. GiftedMom has the potential to live both on grants and revenue. So we apply for grants, for competitions and what comes out of it, is what we invest in projects that are self-funded. For revenue basis we are looking for partners (health NGOs, pharmaceutical companies, FMCGS, etc). Also impact investors are always welcome.
You are a medical doctor and Program Officer at giftedMom. Why do you join giftedMom?
What is giftedMom´s vision?
Dr. Agbor ASHU: Our vision is to impact 50.000 women by the end of 2016, 500,000 by the end of 2017 and 5 million by the end of 2018 in west and Central Africa. We are really passionate about what we do and we believe that if we join forces together we can achieve all of this. Our vision is to be the biggest player in the mobile health sector in West and Central Africa. And I should add that we are also moving to other parts of the world. There are people from Haiti who discovered the platform and they say, GiftedMom is doing a great job in Cameroon, please come to Haiti. So next year we are going to Haiti to install our platform.
Film about “giftedMom” and their work:
MORE DATA about giftedMom
EMPLOYEES: 7 employees
– Alain NTEFF: Co-founder/Executive Director
– Dr. Conrad TANKOU: Co-founder/Medical Director
– Blanche AWAFACK: Chief Technology Officer
– Carole DEMANOU: Administrative assistant
– Herve DONGMO: Senior Engineer
– Mounira MOUSTAPHA: Communications Officer
– Dr. Agbor Ashu: M & E Program Officer
– ALN Venture