The frequent story across Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is that of maternal mortality and morbidity. Many Nigerian women approach this poignant point of life’s journey, gripped with fear and apprehension, given the uncertainties that come with maternal healthcare.
According to Bohren et al (2017), over 300,000 women per year die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Of this number, over fifteen percent occur in Nigeria, West Africa. According to the WHO and UNICEF data, Nigeria has the highest global maternal death record, with a Nigerian woman having a 1 in 22-lifetime risk of death during pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum/post-abortion.
These grim figures reveal a devastating trend of poor healthcare, obstetric violence, inadequate health facilities, and support, lack of good education, and dysfunctional health systems. Even when one survives these challenges pre-birth and during childbirth, other complications are wont to arise much later on. Mothers are looking for direction, especially from experienced and empathetic mothers like themselves. While many observers complain about this dearth of good healthcare avenues for Nigerian women, some others like Adeloye Olanrewaju and Kemi Olawoye are concerned about providing germane solutions to helping mothers.
The Babymigo way: Digitizing care for mothers in Africa
Driven by the pressing concerns on maternal mortality rates in Nigeria, Adeloye Olanrewaju and Kemi Olawoye created Babymigo in 2017. A solution recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 50 Genius Companies of 2018, Babymigo utilizes its digital platform to offer expectant, pregnant, and nursing mothers the opportunity to connect with other mothers like themselves, with medical experts, to access local health and welfare services.
Through the platform, mothers can ask important questions about their experiences and get feedback from a community of mothers with similar experiences. They also have access to a diverse array of experts in different medical fields, from pediatrics to gynecology, to nutrition, to lactation consultants. The platform caters to this latter need through its Bloomcare service.
Sharing her experience with Startup Lagos, Kemi Olawoye recounts how through the Babymigo way, mothers and parents are able to easily navigate, with the help of others, the tough journey of motherhood and parenthood. As she says,
For one who has experienced pregnancy before, one would know that the pregnancy and parenting journey is one of the toughest journeys that we embark on in life…that journey can be very lonely. Beyond loneliness, there are a lot of questions that arise from that journey.
Being able to walk this life experience with other empathetic and professional individuals helps mothers to better manage the challenges that they are confronted with. While learning and studying the experiences of mothers and the event of childbirth are important for women looking to surmount the difficulties that come with birth, having a community of relatable persons to talk and share with is even more crucial.
Challenges so far
Kemi identifies team building and funding as the biggest challenges that Babymigo faces so far. With regards to the former, she opines how human resource and human capital development are a sine qua non for startups looking at making a significant impact. A business is only as good as its people.
As such, Kemi decides that a purposeful team is crucial to the success of any startup venture. As she says,
If purpose implies logical thinking, I’d choose it over passion. For, if one is passionate about something but unable to address that passion in a logical manner with clear goals and all that, one would be unable to achieve much.
While passion is important for driving startup success, Stillman (2019) argues that hard work makes one passionate for something, rather than the other way around. Harvard Business School Professor, Jachimowicz corroborates her point, when he points out that by focusing on purpose, one easily aligns one’s work with one’s deepest values. Consequently, chasing a purpose other than passion helps one towards greater success.
While Babymigo has gotten funding support over the years from different organizations, there is still much that the dynamic startup intends to achieve through more funding. With the huge spike in funding to African startups this year, many pundits are particular about how the disparities in access to funding opportunities can be best managed.
The future focus for Babymigo
As a startup committed to social impact, and not merely profit-seeking, Babymigo is creating value in addressing a key sustainable development goal, SDG 3.1 – the reduction of the global maternal mortality rate. The WHO estimates that maternal mortality rates for Nigeria are required to drop by 7.5% annually, for Nigeria to reach the target for SDG 3.1.
With over 5.9 million babies born yearly in Nigeria, there is a huge addressable target customer base for Babymigo to reach out to. This is even more contextually relevant against the evidence that many young girls become mothers without adequate preparation.
The startup is also keen on launching the second version of its platform, which will give mothers even greater opportunities to interact and connect with one another. To reach even more mothers, Babymigo intends to increase its present user base of over 250,000 mothers. The startup also plans expansion across Nigeria, to Ghana, and to other African countries.