The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is IFPMA and Speak Up Africa’s flagship program, focused on supporting pioneering young health entrepreneurs across Africa with financial and in-kind opportunities to develop their business ideas. And also advance promising solutions to support, equip, protect, and train healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly to protect and treat the public amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday 16 September 2021, Conrad Tankou, CEO, GIC Space (Cameroon); John Mwangi, CEO, Daktari Media (Kenya) and Imodoye Abioro, CEO, Healthbotics (Nigeria) were announced as the first-ever winners.
Award winners were joined by high-profile personalities making an impact on the continental healthcare landscape through policy, innovation, and business. These include (in order of appearance); Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Minister of State of Senegal; Thomas B. Cueni, Director General of IFPMA; Yacine Djibo, Executive Director, Speak Up Africa, Sobel Aziz Ngom, Executive Director, Consortium Jeunesse Sénégal; Vèna Arielle Ahouansou, CEO of KEA Medicals; Dr. Lindiwe Makubalo, Assistant Regional Director, WHO AFRO (by video message) and Dr. Sheila Shawa-Musonda, Senior Program Officer, African Union Commission plus more.
Winners benefit from financial support worth a total of $75,000 (first prize: $40,000; second prize: $20,000 and third prize: $15,000); a three-month business mentorship programme, media training, expert advice on Intellectual Property protection, where relevant, as well as access to a network of supporters and partners working across digital, healthcare, and media.
The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is an investment in the human capital of Africa’s promising young entrepreneurs. The Award provides financial and in-kind support so they can advance their healthcare solutions and garner support on their journey to becoming today’s change-makers, innovators and leaders.
1st Prize: Conrad Tankou, Global Innovation and Creative Space (GIC Space)
Founded by Dr. Tankou, Global Innovation and Creative Space (GIC Space) – through its flagship product GICMED – aims to reduce breast and cervical cancer death rates in Africa’s underserved communities and rural settings that generally lack access to cancer care services. By training health workers in rural and peri-urban health facilities to use its proprietary tech, including smartphone digital microscopy and colposcopy systems, and a telemedicine platform, it enables women living even in the most remote areas to get screened and diagnosed for these cancers at the point of care by medical specialists. Headquartered in Cameroon, GIC Space strives to ensure access to quality healthcare services through innovative and sustainable med-tech solutions, decreasing the healthcare gap between wealthy and poor communities in Africa. Dr. Tankou’s innovation has been recognized by the Next Einstein Forum, Total Startupper program, and finalist at the 2021 CISCO Global Problem Solver Challenge amongst many other awards and recognitions. Dr Tankou was previously on the Quartz Africa Innovators top 30 list of pioneers.
2nd Prize: John Mwangi, Daktari Media Africa
Daktari Online, a product of Daktari Media Africa is an online medical resource platform through which the community of healthcare professionals (HCPs) can interact, train, publish research papers, attend and earn Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points. Founded by John Mwangi, a computer scientist, Daktari Online currently supports over 9,000 Kenyan HCPs’ learning goals for appraisal and re-licensure, by delivering relevant content created by experts in easy-to-access formats and helping healthcare providers to gather evidence of their learning. Daktari Online is currently the sole online CPD provider accredited by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) to provide clinical and practice education for general practitioners, clinical officers, and other primary healthcare professionals in Kenya. Daktari Media Africa was recently one of only five startups in Kenya that won the 2020 Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) Business Plan Competition in response to COVID-19 organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
3rd Prize: Imodoye Abioro, Healthbotics Limited
Healthbotics, through its product Mediverse, is utilizing artificial intelligence to power electronic medical records systems that allows health workers to input and retrieve patient records with their voice, working with or without internet access on any device. Mediverse supports doctors with a virtual digital assistant that captures and records vital clinical documentation, prescription, treatment analysis, and prognosis assessment during the delivery of patient care. Co-founded and led by Dr Imodoye Abioro, Healthbotics envisions Mediverse as the fundamental solution upon which Africa can build sustainable healthcare infrastructure and directly improve the quality of care with data. The self-taught IBM Cloud software developer and his team have been recognized among the top 30 innovators by World Health Organisation and emerged as the top innovations at the 2020 ITU AI for Development Challenge, Africa App Launchpad Cup, and the 2021 Princess Diana Awards for social ventures.
The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award launched the Women Innovators Incubator, an initiative aimed at addressing the gender imbalance that exists in Africa’s health innovation landscape.
While women make up the majority of those who are entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa, they continually face significant barriers like access to funding, skills gaps, and exclusion from key networks and overall participation in competitive environments, which are all key ingredients for a successful business.
In response to these challenges and the experience of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award in which only 21% of the submissions were from women, IFPMA and Speak Up Africa have developed the Women Innovators Incubator, a dedicated program in which female participants will benefit from financial support, mentorship, media training, expert advice on intellectual property protection and access to the rich network of supporters of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award.
Stay tuned for the announcement of the first participants of the Women Innovators Incubator programme in December….