Chrispinus Onyancha, a Ugandan software engineer impressed the MIT D-Lab as he participated in their fellowship program dubbed Scale-Ups, which saw him earn a $20,000 (about Shs74.6 million) grant to boost his startup clinicPesa.
The healthtech firm, which has also been supported by Microsoft, takes advantage of a number of technologies through USSD, mobile apps, and web services to help low-income earners and SMEs to save, get insurance and loans for health services. Mobile money and bank infrastructure are the engines of the platform.
“Our solution aims to reduce the high out-of-pocket expenditure by introducing a discipline whereby these people can be able to set aside funds so that they can take care of their medical bills at their different health facilities,” Onyancha says in a recorded video posted on YouTube as he explains how clinicPesa works.
“We are looking at extending financial security and ready cash for healthcare. Another thing we are actually extending is flexibility, and convenience.”
In total six startups were picked from East Africa, with the other 3 coming from Kenya and 2 from Tanzania. They also got the same amount of money.
This MIT program supports social entrepreneurs to bring poverty-alleviating products to market at scale. The program aims to help the entrepreneurs to reduce risk and position their ventures for investment, partnership, and growth.
“Winning this fellowship is a big confirmation,” says Chrispinus Onyancha, CEO of clinicPesa, said according to TechMoran.
“We strongly believe that creative health care financing should be among key priority focus areas, especially for marginalized groups in Africa where infant mortality rates are so high and over 20 million people per year till die of preventable and treatable conditions such as malaria.”
MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship retreat 2019! So pleased to have our newest cohort of 6 social entrepreneur fellows as well as 13 returning fellows from prior years. Together, they are participating in 4 days of workshops and networking. #socent #impinv pic.twitter.com/ZMrjzLCjWP
— D-Lab @ MIT (@dlab_mit) May 10, 2019
The Program was introduced in 2012 and it has since supported 39 fellows working on four continents in sectors including agriculture, energy, water, health care, housing, mobility, recycling, education, and personal finance.
Startups that have been supported have raised $11.1 million in funding, generated $10.2 million in revenue, created over 700 direct and 6,700 indirect full-time equivalent jobs, and reached 1.5 million people living in low-income settings with their product and service offerings.
“We are excited to work with a vibrant cohort of East African entrepreneurs whose expertise is grounded in their lived reality,” says Jona Repishti, who manages the fellowship, according to TechMoran. “Working with local founders has certain advantages — they reflect the demographics of the markets they serve; their lived experience helps them identify unique, scalable, market-based solutions overlooked by outsiders. What’s more, they are more likely to commit for the long haul, developing local talent and infrastructure along the way.”