How mentorship changed the course of my startup
What did Sir Isaac Newton mean when he said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”? It’s no coincidence that people who achieved more in life on any metric that you decide to use, leveraged on a network of mentors to get there.
Early 2020, Dawa Health was fortunate to be selected as one of the 10 startups to participate in the Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A.com)- Mentor Driven Capital Program. We were paired with Silumesii Maboshe, the Co-founder & Director of BongoHive Consult as our mentor. Silumesii helped the Dawa Health team define the pain point the startup was working to solve for mothers in Africa. We then developed a roadmap of how we were going to solve the maternal health access problem in Sub Sahara Africa, and through his network, we were able to forge some important partnerships.
With a clear vision and roadmap, Dawa Health went onto win second place in the ZICTA (Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority) ICT Program. With support from ZICTA, Dawa Health has been able to procure 30 Dawa kits that will directly empower 30 health workers across Lusaka. The Dawa CHA (community health agent) program will benefit close to 1,000 mothers from poor communities of Lusaka, who will access remote maternal health, preventing pregnancy-induced complications.
At Dawa Health, we have developed a week on week advisory app that empowers mothers to receive remote support from specialist doctors. Also, we have developed an AI-powered chatbot that will be accessible to mothers through SMS, our website, and social media platforms. At Dawa Health, we also understand that not all mothers have access to smartphones, so we have a USSD/SMS app we are finalizing to launch with local telecom companies. Since incorporation in March, Dawa Health has supported more than 4,000 mothers across Zambia and Zimbabwe.
With the work we had done with Dawa Health, we were selected as one of the three social enterprises to be representing Zambia at the BOOST UP Program. The competition to be held on the 13th of November will see 18 tech-driven social enterprises from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia competing. Through BOOST UP, Dawa Health got paired up with another mentor Elizabeth Harford. Elizabeth is an Investment Consultant at BongoHive Ventures, an early-stage seed investment fund for African startups. Elizabeth has helped the Dawa Health team with a scalable and sustainable business model that will help the startup grow quickly.
Through a partnership, we were able to forge with one of the organizations in Silumesii’s network, Dawa Health is scaling into 20+ health facilities across three provinces in Zambia. We are scaling the Dawa Health CHA program to 200+ community health agents. Our goal for 2021 is to support over 35,000 mothers across Zambia and expand into Zimbabwe. We are working to make Dawa Health the platform of choice for mothers across Southern Africa by 2030.
All in all, 2020 got Dawa Health selected and winning some of the most prestigious competitions internationally: Princeton-Africa New Venture, Prepr Prevention Challenge, Swiss-Africa Business Innovation Initiative- because of the strong network of mentors we are working with. It's by standing on the shoulders of these giants Dawa Health has been able to see this far.
Lastly, one conviction I have is that anyone who is willing to put in the effort in whatever work they feel passionate about, all things will work out for the greater good.
“Act great. My dear, always act great.” — Hafiz