By Ben Oduor
GE’s healthymagination Mother and Child program, early March, graduated its second cohort of social entrepreneurs; this after they completed training and mentorship designed to scale impact, thereby improving maternal and child health outcomes in Africa.
The ceremony came hot on the heels of the first graduation, which saw social entrepreneurs acquire essential resources essential to their businesses.
Dr Steve Adudans, a beneficiary whose enterprise, Hewa Tele, attracted over US$2 million in additional investments, said the program had enabled him acquire the necessary skills and practical knowledge that transformed their business model for greater impact.
“We managed to secure investment from global development partners for the expansion of two additional oxygen plants which will increase access to affordable, safe and quality life-saving medical oxygen in Kenya,” Dr Adudans said.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, Robert Wells, Executive Director, New Growth Markets, Business Innovations at GE, lauded the major strides the program had made with the social entrepreneurs.
He added that the program, which is driven through partnership between GE and Santa Clara University’s Miller Centre, would continue partnering with the enterprises to promote sustainable healthcare development mainly through capacity building and skills transfer.
After undergoing a rigorous evaluation process, the social enterprises selected to feature in the second cohort of the program attended a three-day workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by a six-month online accelerator program that featured weekly mentorship sessions from executives based in Silicon Valley (U.S) as well as local GE business leaders.
A statement from the program’s organizers says the approach is designed to assist entrepreneurs operating in the healthcare sector acquire business fundamentals that will help them build and grow their impact. Participants go through accelerator and mentorship programmes which offer them an opportunity to showcase their business models to an audience of potential investors and supporters.
Pamela Roussos, the Chief Innovation Officer at Miller Centre, said the graduates were now ready to scale their work and offer their communities a path to better, healthier lives.
“Addressing challenges in maternal health calls for sustained efforts and we will continue to leverage GE’s healthcare and information technology expertise combined with Miller Center’s capacity development portfolio to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in Africa,” she said.
WHO approximates that 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth daily. And 99 per cent of maternal deaths are reported from developing countries, including Africa, mainly in women living in rural areas and among poorer communities.
Taming such health challenges could, however, soak up huge capital and human resources were organizations to directly target people in the grassroots. It’s for this that healthymagination Mother and Child program opted to involve social enterprises with already running enterprises to reach out to the masses.
Launched in 2016, the program graduated eleven more social entrepreneurs (spread across Africa) this year, with plans to have more on its list in a bid to tame the high maternal mortality rates in Africa.