co-CEO of Kaaro Health
WiredUp had a Q & A session with Angella Kyomugisha
Who is Angella Kyomugisha? What is your background?
I am a passionate social entrepreneur and a financial management professional. I have been building impact-focused businesses that aim to lift women out of poverty for over six (6) years. My education background is in economics, statistics and project management. I currently serve as co-CEO of Kaaro Health.
When you founded Kaaro Health, what changes did you aim to institute, and why?
I experienced at first hand what it means not be able to have access to timely healthcare attention, or even see a doctor in a remote area. After that incident, I, together with my team, purposed to find ways to innovate better access to quality primary rural healthcare services. For the majority of the villages that we target, the nearest health facility is 20 km or more away. And so pregnant mothers, children and the very sick people have to walk long distances to government health centres. This results in complications along the way and we end up losing lives to preventable causes every day. At some of the close-by private health centres the necessary health equipment and doctors are missing completely.
Kaaro Health, therefore, exists to bring access to primary health care and virtual doctor’s consultations to underserved rural/remote communities in Uganda.
You are an innovator, a healthcare scientist and an entrepreneur, who is passionate about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – what challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome some of these challenges?
As a woman and an innovator who is very passionate about STEM, I have noticed an imbalance when it comes to access to opportunities for funding, guided mentorship in the science field and leadership opportunities for women in this very competitive space. I have always addressed this by being goal oriented, persistent, consistent and sticking to the right team that shares the same goals.
Also, since I have personally been challenged in the aforementioned aspects, we have aimed our business model at Kaaro Health at the empowerment of female nurse entrepreneurs to own and efficiently run their businesses (private modular container clinics connected to doctors through the use of technology). The nurse entrepreneurs initially cannot start their businesses because clinics are capital intensive and most of these ladies cannot penetrate the existing funding opportunities or afford to hire doctors; so, with our model, they are able to pay off the lease within three to five (3-5) years and own the clinics.
Starting out, I realised that in this space a woman entrepreneur in STEM needs (a) mentor(s) to guide them through the journey. I was fortunate to be part of the Women’s Innovation Incubator. I also had other impactful women in my life to guide me through this journey to date. This guidance has enabled me as a woman entrepreneur in STEM to overcome any challenges.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my passionate team and our validated business model – it is fair to all parties (Kaaro as a business, the nurse as the customer, the doctors as the service providers and the community as the beneficiaries). The fact that we empower other women entrepreneurs but also save lives indirectly, motivates me every day to think more, innovate more, and network more.
Are there any programmes or upcoming programmes that Kaaro Health offers to help young Africans in this field?
Yes. Our continued endeavours to build and install more clinics in different regions mean that we continue to empower more nurse entrepreneurs with their own businesses (clinics). We are also making sure these nurses are able to pass on the skills that they gained in our network (for example, business management skills) to other women in the same field. ‘We aim to empower empowerers’.
I believe that innovation is useful if it has a positive impact on humanity.
What is your message to upcoming young Africans about STEM?
The major message that I want to leave with upcoming Africans about STEM is that STEM is the key to a prosperous Africa. This is to say, upcoming Africans hold this key to Africa’s prosperity and so I encourage even more women to join STEM.
The world is evolving. Take, for example, the COVID breakouts among other scientific incidents. We need to maximise our potential and innovate on our own, as Africa, with an empowered generation of not only men but also women and girls. Some of the practices we can adopt to achieve the full-fledged participation of African women and girls in STEM include:
Additional support channeled towards the training and mentorship necessary to pursue leadership positions in science careers;
Nurturing the next generation of leading female scientists. It is necessary to go beyond designing more gender-responsive policies and mainstreaming gender into science and research; and
More efforts to include gender equity in education, both by empowering the female teachers who can and in the long run, empowering girls to take up STEM courses, and by promoting role models and mentorship programmes that foster a sense of belonging among women in STEM.
Innovation is a virtue in STEM! As upcoming young Africans, breathe life into your ideas, embrace technology, confidently take up science subjects, learn to fail and try again … and continue creating solutions for a prosperous Africa.
Also find a mentor, because the journey will then be easier.