Making the World a Healthier Place

“I grew up watching my grandmother treating the sick and caring for them. I normally carried her bags whenever she would go visit her patients. My interest peaked as a result of this experience working with my grandmother. Some point in time, patients; especially pregnant women died during childbirth. This was mainly due to the limited knowledge available to caregivers and midwives back then.

These home visits really touched me growing up and I eventually took up nursing. I believed that; if my grandmother had sufficient knowledge in nursing especially on mother and baby treatment and care, she would have been able to save the lives of more women and children.

The Entrepreneurial Journey

I had been employed for over 30 years within a government hospital. I however was not satisfied with the impact we were making. I could clearly see the disparities between how the underprivileged were treated as compared to the well-off. I and two other nurses who were friends eventually decided to form a clinic to address this issue. Mwatate Health Care Centre had two goals from the start: in the 1990’s the spread of HIV was rampant in Africa, the less fortunate were greatly affected due to the unavailability of preventive measures and treatment. Additionally, many young girls were getting unplanned pregnancies & almost 3 newborns were found thrown in the garbage on a weekly basis; someone had to pay attention.

The healthcare center was struggling when we started; finances were scarce and like every entrepreneur starting off, we were living off on “hand to mouth” basis and for about 10 years there was little to no growth. We were making an impact in society, yet we sustainability was a challenge; it was still a business and we needed to grow in order to increase our outreach.

As destiny struck, the 2 other partners passed on and I was left all alone to run the vision of Mwatate Healthcare Center. I involved some of my family members to help me run the business because I couldn’t do it by myself, these include my daughter and son.

The ISBI Experience

My daughter who’s also heavily involved in the business informed me of the ISBI Institute & urged me to attend one of their entrepreneurship workshops which was themed “moving your business from good to great”. I had no business background and I therefore needed someone to hold my hand through the entrepreneurship journey. After the workshop I was completely sold and I immediately registered for the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program.”

What stood out from the program?

1. Entrepreneurship: You’re both an investor and a manager in the business. Separate the two roles — especially when injecting money and drawing funds from the business, ensure you calculate your MD compensation.

2. Finance: Where is my money? As I said, there was no growth for over 10 years; we were doing the same thing and getting the same results yet going nowhere. Eventually I implemented some insights from the finance, legal & tax modules:

· I now have a hospital system management that helps me in book keeping.

· I am now more comfortable I understand what my financial records mean even without an accounting background. I can now face the tax officials (KRA) with confidence

· I have managed to expand to another outlet and I can easily manage the two

3. Human Resources (HR): I know what each worker is doing, their key performance indicators (KPIs) and expectations of the company. They clearly know what part they play in the organization. I make statutory contributions for my employees, NHIF, NSSF, NITA etc. Previously I didn’t have properly drafted contracts which wasn’t the ideal way of handling employee but as at now, my HR docket is in order.

4. Strategy: I have started a new outlet after the program. I have brought on board other insurance companies to cover my typical patients which was never there. I am now taking in NHIF patients which has increased my pool since most patients are able to afford the services offered. With regards to impact, we now have very rare cases of women dumping their babies and we are making strides in reducing the spread of HIV and other STIs in the slums. Additionally, I have adopted one of the abandoned kids and I am raising them as one of my own.

Eventually, I would like to hand over the business to my children. I have therefore been able to incorporate my kids into the business, my firstborn daughter is in charge of administration of the hospital, my son is also tasked with the running of day to day operations within the hospital. I really loved the program so much and I even paid for my son to go through the program since he forms part of the future growth strategy of my Mwatate Medical.

Raphael Karanja

“At Mwatate Medical Centre, my goal is to actualize my mother’s vision and also incorporate my ideas into the business. Most young people are overlooked when it comes to business; because those who’ve been there for a while believe that the youth don’t have much to contribute yet that’s a lie. My mum was eager to incorporate my ideas and it encouraged me to contribute more to the hospital.

I have been able to incorporate insurance for the youth; I have set up youth groups around the area which helps to address many challenges including personal hygiene and healthcare within the community among the youth.

I am hoping to improve our marketing strategy; to ensure that Mwatate Healthcare reaches all corners in the slum area. Knowing your target market is important. You need to focus on your target customer and project your services to them. So many people are doing the same thing, I however want our healthcare center to be different, to stand out. The ideas I have will shape the organization and many lives the hospital touches

The marketing class was inspirational to me and I hope the insights I picked up from the classes will help us employ better marketing strategies at Mwatate and increase our outreach and impact in the community and in Kenya at large.”

Visit our website to learn more about the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program — February Intake ongoing.

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