When Jennie Nwokoye got the idea for her startup that is now helping hundreds of Nigerians in the remotest part of the country gain access to healthcare service at the confront for their home, as a teenager, she wasn’t able to put a proper framework around her idea until she began studying for her master’s degree in system engineering and management at Georgetown University.
But, Jennie was an inquisitive teenager who was sensitive enough to know that access to healthcare in her country was and is still impossible for the larger populace.
Relating her experience of witnessing the ills of the Nigerian healthcare system to an online publication, Jennie said to “Imagine having family members or friends who have either died or had close calls because they weren’t able to get access to healthcare.” She stated that the “experience had stayed with me all this time and has become something I want to solve.”
Her mission was to build a system outside of a typical hospital setting that could help ease the worsening case of healthcare delivery in Nigeria because according to her, “there are ways to adjust this problem and you don’t necessarily have to be a doctor to do that.” Her drive to find out how to address the healthcare delivery problem in Nigeria is what led to Clafiya.
Clafiya’s goal is to be the premier e-platform that connects patients in quasi-urban and rural areas to Community Health Workers that will provide primary care services to them from the comfort of their homes.
The company, which recently announced that it has reached a landmark 450 cases of health interventions within its first three months of launch since November after it secured a $20k pre-seed funding as the winner of the Build Better Challenge sponsored by Women in Global Health, is one of only a handful tech startups being entirely run by two female founders.
Talking about her co-founder and their challenges as women running a technology-driven startup, Jennie noted that her co-founder, Itoro Inoyo, has always been her go-to person for information concerning delivery and medical services in Nigeria since they met in 2016. And that her decision to start Clafiya with Itoro was an easy one given their solid relationship.
“We applied for [the Build Better Challenge], and people assumed we were co-founders. We had a great working relationship and so we decided to do it.”
On the issue of being a female founder, Jennie said that although “Some people won’t take [her] seriously just because [she’s] a woman,” once she’s able to present her facts in a way that shows she’s serious about it, “they tend to take [her] a little bit more seriously.”
How it works
Clafiya works via short a USSD code that users can dial at the comfort of their homes to get the medical service they need.
“With our short USSD code, Nigerians with limited access to primary care services can register, pay, and request for the nearest registered CHW to administer home-based services,” Jennie says.
The company also gathers crucial health data, leveraging artificial intelligence that analyses the geotagged USSD messages its gets from customers when they dial their code, for surveillance of disease outbreak in regions of the country.
To get access to Clafiya’s service, customers are expected to dial the codes *347*58# and then proceed to fill out a few biographic questions that they will be prompted to fill in to register with the company. Once they are done, they would receive a text message and will be walked through the process of buying any of their plans, and scheduling an appointment.
The company says it has four main plans: The Basic, otherwise known as the pay as you go (PAYG) plan, costs ₦2000, the Single Plan, Maternity Care, and a Family Plan.
“We’re hoping that as we penetrate these communities, people would subscribe to what I would call the quasi insurance plan, where the prices start at ₦3000 ($7.3) for a single plan but that covers all of the primary care services that we are providing except the maternity care plan,” Jennie says.
Clafiya’s maternity package costs ₦3500, and its most expensive medical package, the family plan costs ₦5000.
Jennie grew up as an inquisitive teenager on the shores of the country before heading to the USA for he undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Florida, and her master’s degree in system engineering and management at Georgetown University.
Before starting Clafiya, she worked with several multinationals including Deloitte and AWS as a Systems Engineering Consultant and Program Manager, respectively.
Itoro Inoyo extensive work experience in the healthcare sector started after her undergraduate study at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she got a bachelor’s degree in biological science before moving on to obtain a master’s degree in public health from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health in Philadelphia, USA.
Itoro has travelled through the sub-rural communities in Nigeria through her work as a gender and PED analyst for the United States Agency for International Development.