Issue #25   •   Quarter 3/4 Edition   •   December 2018

 

Article Index

 TEMITOPE AWOSIKA

PROJECT: MEDSAF

2017Q4 Features ITU SME awosikaMEDSAF is solving a real social issue across Africa, which is eliminating the use of fake and substandard drugs. Like we all know that a lot of people in Africa and that includes Nigeria are dying from the use of fake medicines, so what we’ve done is to build a technology platform where hospitals and pharmacies are able to buy their medication. We have brought together both foreign, local manufacturers as well as multi nationals. We buy medications from them and then we supply at a good rate to the hospitals and pharmacies.

What this does is to streamline the procurement process and ensure no fake or substandard drugs are coming in. When you’re procuring from a source you’re not really sure of and who their partners are, you can’t really say for sure whether the medicine is genuine or not and in some cases the storage conditions cause the medicine to lose its ability to work or to deteriorate. We’re really trying to eliminate that aspect of rot that is so wide spread and is causing people to lose their loved ones.

The way it currently works is that the manufacturers have mega distributors that they sell to and these mega distributors sell to their own distributors and wholesalers. A lot of people act as representatives of companies in the open drug market but what the hospital and pharmacy owners don’t realise is that these people also have links to companies that are obviously fabricating fake version of these medicines and that is generally dangerous.

We have eliminated the middleman, because what the middleman does is to add two things: inconsistency and higher prices. When you eliminate the middleman you’re able to identify your source. This also helps to reduce time and manpower involved in going to the market or waiting for your supplier to come. We have partnered with tech enabled Logistics Company, so when you place an order on our platform you get your medication within 24-48 hours.

The pharmaceutical industry in general is very capital-intensive but one thing that stands our platform out and not like every other distributor is that we are also collecting data for the manufacturers. The manufacturers are used to people coming to give them money and they take their medicines. We’re not just giving them money, we’re giving them data and the information they need so that when it’s time to create a new drug and expand a new line of medication, they can say this the rate at which we’re selling this and the type of diseases that are coming up in Nigeria.

The rate diseases like diabetes is growing in our country and of course Africa is alarming. We’re no longer concerned with just malaria, tuberculosis etc. Because of the uniqueness of our platform, we have been given a lot of concession by the manufacturers.

 

CHIZARAM UCHEAGA

MARVIS Academy

2017Q4 Features ITU SME ucheagaBooks can talk and pens can teach. That is the innovation from Marvis Academy. Using a magic pen encrypted with sensors, they are able to help pupils learn English, mathematics and other subjects. Chizaram Ucheaga, Head Corporate Strategy and Operations tells the rest of the story.

“We noticed there was high failure rate in exams in Nigeria and we noticed that not much is being done about it. We came up with the idea of the talking books as a learning tool. The Hausa to English book is to tackle the illiteracy in the North because statistics from the Ministry of Education is that over 50 per cent of children finish primary school and they can’t read or write and in the poor communities it is up to 84 per cent; so that’s why we did the Hausa to English so that when the child turns on the pen and taps on the book, it uses Hausa to teach them English.

“In our chain of schools we’re going to provide quality literacy and numeracy lessons for just N2,500 as school fees a month and we’re registering them with the ministries of education in those states, so our plan is to have at least a hundred Marvis Academy in each state. We’re giving high quality learning at very low cost using technology.

“Some books are voluminous up to a hundred pages while some have just few pages. So depending on the nature of the book you can have several. One pen has a memory to take up to a hundred books.

“It is not just to teach languages, we have the one for subjects. We already have English and Mathematics for primary 1-3. The sales response has been very good, we’ve sold to the Nigerian Army, the Airforce and we’ve even gotten funding from the US Embassy, DFID and so we’re currently deploying this to Kaduna, Abuja, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara and we’re expanding to Lagos and other areas.”