It is estimated that half of Africa’s population of 1.2-billion people lack access to proper healthcare and this is compounded by several challenges facing the continent such as a lack of infrastructure development, stable power and investment. However, companies such as GE have been coming up with innovative ways to develop the healthcare sector and one initiative that has proven to be a success is the Healthymagination Mother and Child Programme, which was started last year by GE Healthcare and the Santa Clara University’s Miller Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.

The seven-month Healthymagination Mother and Child Programme was created to assist social entrepreneurs in improving, and developing their mother and child healthcare enterprises. Both GE and the Miller Centre assist the social healthcare entrepreneurs throughout the length of the programme to develop their business strategies and to pitch for investment. The entrepreneurs are also given access to business development material as well as online mentoring from the Miller Centre.

Healthymagination recently launched its second cohort of social entrepreneurs at the GE Innovation Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The programme kicked off its three-day launch workshop on 25 July 2017 in Johannesburg with 14 social enterprises which had made the final cut in the selection process. The organisations were chosen according to scope of work and experience in healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

The selected social enterprises tackle various aspects of mother and child healthcare through their innovations and initiatives. All the enterprises are based in SSA in countries which include Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Apart from the three-day workshop with GE business leaders and senior Miller Centre mentors, the social entrepreneurs who lead the selected enterprises are also paired with Silicon Valley executives who provide mentorship in key areas to assist in accelerating the growth of their businesses. Pamela Roussos, Chief Innovation Officer at the Miller Centre, said: “We have teamed up the social entrepreneurs with executives who will be able to assist them with the challenges they have. It is important that social entrepreneurs are equipped with adequate skills to make a sustainable difference in mother and child healthcare in SSA.”

Mother and child healthcare is a challenge in most developing countries and initiatives such as Healthymagination assist in developing better healthcare services and outcomes. The first cohort to address these challenges was launched last year and in March this year, 14 leaders of the social enterprises successfully graduated from the programme.

To give the current social entrepreneurs insight into the programme, Miller Centre alumni Faith Muigai, Chief Medical Officer at Jacaranda Health, participated in the introductory workshop. Muigai shared the challenges and successes she experienced as a social entrepreneur and this gave the current entrepreneurs a better understanding of what to expect  in the upcoming months.

The Healthymagination programme is crucial to the development of mother and child healthcare in SSA. Robert Wells,  Executive Director for Strategy at Healthymagination said: “One of the critical benefits of the programme is that the social entrepreneurs are able to make a sustainable difference in areas that big companies like GE are not able to penetrate.

GE is known for partnering with large entities such as governments, international organisations and other large companies to solve major challenges facing humanity, but we also understand that some of these, particularly in healthcare, are best tackled at local level and within communities, working with smaller entities. By equipping these social entrepreneurs, GE is able to extend its reach in advancing healthcare outcomes in developing countries.”

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