One of the main reasons why we are building Impact Go is because we want to work with startups from Africa. We are simply curious about what’s happening at our neighbouring continent and about which challenges we could tackle with joined forces. We want to learn how to co-create a product with social impact in the age of digitalisation. Maybe we could inspire others to similar endeavors between Europe and Africa.
As you might know already Impact Go builds on digital cooperation. Our startup partner Jamii Africa is from Dar e Salaam in Tanzania. Impact Go’s app allows you to donate health insurance coverage directly to one person in need in East Africa. We let you check the whereabouts of their contribution and whom you have supported where. Thus, you are able to track your impact. Jamii Africa’s digital and paperless approach is essential for us to provide you with this seamless, individual experience.
Nowadays millions of people in Africa use mobile money services with which they can send and receive amounts with their cellphones. Jamii Africa leverages this mobile banking technology and enables individuals to purchase micro-insurance policies through cellphones. This mobile approach allows us to track exactly which individual got insured where. Hence, with a bit of magic it allows us to match individual donors to individual beneficiaries.
How does this magic look like? Jamii Africa cooperates with USAID funded NGOs (i.e. Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics). Through these local organizations and through churches as well as social saving groups they are able to reach thousands of people who need insurance coverage but can not afford it. This is where you and Impact Go come into play: You part of your little change through Impact Go’s app, we then funnel your donation to Jamii Africa who then issues the health ID-number via SMS to these people in need. By showing this ID at the counter of the clinic people get granted access to medical services and essential medicine. And the best thing about it – the whole process works without cash nor any piece of paper – it is cash- and paperless. For the beginning we decided to focus on insuring pregnant women because pre-natal conditions are still a big problem in Subsahara Africa.
Infographic about Subsahara Africa’s Main Causes of Death
Jamii Africa’s product relies on two big pillars of cooperation in order to run this cash- and paperless process. On one hand, they formed a partnership with Jubilee Insurance from Kenya. This insurance company offers micro policies without making profit on short term. On the long run, though, they reckon that their clients will rise into middle class and then purchase more elaborated policies. We believe that this is a window of opportunity for donors to get people in need insured for a very small contribution.
On the other hand Jamii Africa exclusively partners with the two big mobile network operators Vodacom Tanzania and Safaricom (Kenya). Since every second person in Africa owns a cellphone, telecommunication companies (telcos) are popular partners for startups. Cellphones are the number one tool for entering the mass market. With their huge customer base telcos can serve as a tremendous distribution channel. Against the background that out of one billion people in Africa, only three percent have health insurance, these partnerships are key to reach as many people as possible within a short period of time.
I am very glad that I’ve bumped into Marcello Schermer at a TEDxVienna event after he had given his TEDx talk. He was the one who then introduced me to Lilian Makoi, CEO of Jamii Africa, at the Seedstars conference in 2017. It’s not easy to find the right partner for such intercontinental projects. Therefore I suggest making use of public services like Advantage Austria or getting to know digital nomads like Marcello. They are professionals in establishing trust between you and your future business partner. Thank you, Marcello, for this introduction! Thank you, Nella Hengstler, Walter Koren, Michael Otter and Rafael Rasinger for your big support! Thank you, Lilian and your team, for your patience!