Guest blog by YAPILI's Enya Séguin:“Winning The Spindle’s Public Award symbolizes our progress”

Care Health Startups Technology

At ImpactCity, we are staunch supporters of startup YAPILI that has been working hard to lower the threshold to professional health advice for people around the African continent. In places where professional health services are hard and expensive to get, YAPILI offers an affordable, anonymous and secure channel to medical care. Earlier this month, YAPILI won The Spindle’s Public Award for “Best Innovation”. Read YAPILI’s Enya Séguin’s guest contribution below to gain insight into what preceded.  

On October 12th, YAPILI won The Spindle’s Public Award Best Innovation. We feel that winning the public’s choice award perfectly symbolizes our progress and efforts in the past few months leading up to The Spindle competition. We invite you to come along on our journey.

Access to health

In this day and age, we own the technological and innovative capacities to enhance access to healthcare – from big data use to predict epidemics to drones delivering malaria pills. In the case of YAPILI, our goal is to leverage an existing technology that is increasingly widespread in societies of the developing world.

In places where public hospitals are overcrowded, expensive or inaccessible, everyone deserves to have access to reliable knowledge about their health and wellbeing. Patients and health workers alike deserve to be empowered to take charge of their knowledge in providing and receiving care.

“Imagine how many individuals YAPILI could reach by connecting these residents to local or international doctors for reliable health advice from the comfort of their mobile devices” – Enya Séguin, co-founder at YAPILI

An important milestone

Last August, we took a field trip to Botswana and Kenya. The trip signified an important milestone for YAPILI in terms of conducting further field research and meet with people who are familiar with the healthcare ecosystem in Nairobi and Gaborone. These included different health and wellbeing stakeholders, such as local community members, doctors, entrepreneurs, and various professionals from universities, private as well as public entities.

The trip turned out to be incredibly important in terms of gaining attention and promoting YAPILI to potential users. As a result, we have connected 1,000 users and 100 doctors, and approximately 3,000 messages have been exchanged.

Enya Séguin and YAPILI’s market activation officer Yahya promoting YAPILI by informing the general public in Gaborone, Botswana. Photo credit: YAPILI.

Imagining impact

We visited the Kibera area of Nairobi and met with many local men and women around Lang’ata on multiple occasions. The area includes apartment blocks and estates in Lang’ata to the wide slum settlements in Kibera – and everything in between. This segment of the Nairobi population provided immense learning outcomes on the growing possibilities for YAPILI to connect a poorer socio-economic group in Kenya to YAPILI’s services.

While this is one of the poorest areas of Nairobi, where only a small number of settlements has electricity, the majority of individuals between the ages of 17 and 35 own or share a smart phone. Additionally, Kibera is home to one of the largest slum areas in Africa and in the world – so imagine the impact! Imagine how many individuals YAPILI could reach by connecting these residents to local or international doctors for reliable health advice – from the comfort of their mobile devices.

The Spindle: what’s next

In the African countries we are targeting, medical records are handwritten and sometimes kept by the health institutes. A patient’s medical history can easily be misunderstood, misplaced, or stolen for blackmailing purposes. YAPILI allows for the digitization of our users’ medical histories, in order to provide a centralized platform to be easily accessed by the patient and health institute.

Being exposed locally has helped us to further understand the opportunities in the market and how wildly different these are from one African city to another. We learned more about what doctors from specialized clinics and their patients need and how YAPILI can fill that gap. What’s more, the connections made during the trip helped us gain a larger following and eventually win more votes in the race for The Spindle’s Public Award for Best Innovation 2017. We are excited about the road ahead and about the potential to reach even more people in the near future.

For the next phase of their product development, YAPILI seeks a financial impulse and complementary expertise from a strategic investor who is in line with their core values and sees the benefit of stepping into a traction-based mHealth business for Africa and beyond. If you’re interested in collaborating or contributing, feel free to reach out to Enya at enya@yapili.com or Chiara at chiara@yapili.com.

Enya Séguin on top of Kgale Hill on a sunny afternoon in Gaborone, Botswana, discussing plans with a local business student and an American exchange medical student. Photo credit: YAPILI.