Meet the Accra startups rethinking health and education
ith its quickly growing ecosystem of social enterprises and purpose-driven startups, Accra is a launchpad for creating impact in West Africa and beyond. There’s innovative use of technology in a number of industries here, including some inspiring healthtech and edtech initiatives that are improving life for many. Informed by Startup Guide Accra, here are just a few of the startups rethinking health and education in Ghana’s capital city.
Redbird Health Tech aims to ease the burden on Ghana’s public healthcare system by utilizing the existing pharmacy network.
The e-health service supplies selected pharmacies with rapid on-site tests for chronic and acute conditions including hypertension and diabetes. Patients can take five minutes to pop in for a test, instead of spending more time trying to access a hospital or doctor. The outcome is that patients have quicker results, there is reduced demand on doctors and pharmacies can potentially increase overall revenue.
“I never lived in a place where I didn’t want a service like Redbird,” says cofounder and CEO Patrick Beattie.
The company was founded in 2017 and is a combination of its three founders’ skills and experiences. Before Redbird, Patrick cofounded Diagnostics for All, a US nonprofit diagnostic company. He also led the expansion of Pacific Diagnostics, a Tanzanian medical-supply company, into Ghana.
Patrick and CTO Edward Grandstaff met in 2004 while they were both serving in the Peace Corps. Edward is a computer engineer with expertise in development and digital strategy. COO Andrew Quao is a Ghanian-born pharmacist who met Patrick at a health hackathon in 2016.
Redbird’s service is in over 200 pharmacies and it has over 27,000 registered patients.
Health Direct Global began when cofounders Kelvin Ashie and Amos Doku set out to transform how healthcare providers manage and store patient data. They also wanted to provide effective ways of managing that data securely, creating a reliable resource for doctors and hospitals.
While working on a platform to address these issues, they found other problems across the healthcare spectrum that could be improved with technology and expanded their business model to include a patient-centric element.
Health Direct Global launched in 2018 as a subscription service for both patients and healthcare providers. Its aim is to provide customers with greater access to healthcare at interaction points beyond hospitals, such as pharmacies and primary healthcare facilities. The platform offers a variety of online services, including a financial inclusion platform that allows users to track and save for their healthcare needs.
Amos has over a decade of experience in healthcare administration and Kelvin is an alumnus of the MEST entrepreneurial training program with expertise in product development and strategy. They see huge opportunity for growth in Ghana’s healthcare space.
“Healthtech is a nascent space for innovation with a lot of room for growth. Even if there were five or ten more companies it wouldn’t be crowded,” says Kelvin.
Healthtech is a nascent space for innovation with a lot of room for growth.
Learning can be an overwhelming experience, even more so if you don’t have access to the relevant materials. Chalkboard Education’s COO Genevieve Simiyu explains that in many parts of Africa, there is a shortage of tertiary-level textbooks. Students often photocopy learning materials to create their own books to use and then resell to their peers.
In response, in 2015, Adrien Bouillot and Miora Randriambeloma founded Chalkboard Education. The edtech startup offers a simple, accessible platform allowing tertiary-level students to access high-quality learning materials on their phone, tablet or laptop.
Because data plans can be expensive and internet access is not always available, the startup ensured that the app can be used offline and users can switch between using the app and learning via SMS. The aim is for students to be able to access their materials easily, regardless of what technology they have. The app also tracks students’ progress, and teachers can use it to ask for feedback.
By working alongside NGOs and corporate organizations, Chalkboard Education also identified a need for up-to-date information and has deployed a data analytics dashboard. These organizations and institutions need to record and access data, but remote locations without the internet often go underdocumented. Through the app, they are able to access accurate data about remote communities without being physically present.
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In 2003, Cecil Nutakor was a frustrated student who wanted to pass his high school exams. He had failed them more than once and wanted to test his readiness to sit them again. His battle with outdated teaching methods resulted in him creating eCampus, an edtech tool that has expanded to 20 countries.
When the platform launched in 2006, it was hard for students, professors and the target market to understand the benefits of e-learning. Cecil also encountered challenges accessing funding, and technology infrastructure was hard to come by. But he persisted, and today, eCampus users can access digitized learning materials ranging from grade school to tertiary education level.
Students can also test their own exam preparedness via artificial intelligence. Corporations use eCampus as a training tool for employees, and tutors can also
There is a subscription fee to access some premium subjects and courses, but the Freemium courses are available without a charge. By providing a variety of online learning materials to anyone with internet access, eCampus bridges the gap for those who want to learn but may not have the resources to study in a traditional way.
Inspired to launch your own startup in Accra but not sure where to start? Want to learn about other impactful companies there? Order your copy of Startup Guide Accra now!
Written by Alyx Carolus and Rachel Velebny.
Repackaged by Hazel Boydell.