Guest Post: My Experience at the CAMTech Uganda Co-Creation Lab
Jacob Fohtung is the 2017 CAMTech-Babson Innovation Leadership Fellow
When I saw a missed call on Thursday, May 18, 2017 around 4 p.m. from a Boston area code number, I knew it was great news. I had been expecting a call that day with regards to my application for the CAMTech-Babson Innovation Leadership Fellowship (ILF) to work with two healthcare startups: SaniDrop and Protecting Infants by SMS (PRISMS) in Mbarara, Uganda for six weeks this summer.
In collaboration with the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) and Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST), Babson College and the Schlesinger Fund for Global Healthcare Entrepreneurship established the ILF. CAMTech is a global network of academic, corporate and implementation partners based at Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health. The objective of the ILF program was to provide an opportunity for a Babson MBA student to work internationally in the CAMTech Uganda Co-Creation Lab on affordable medical technologies.
The majority of the time at the Co-Creation Lab was spent developing sustainable business models and new pricing strategies for the startups. So, I primarily worked with two healthcare startups, SaniDrop and PRISMS, both of which spun off from from entrepreneurial-related activities organized at CAMTech Uganda, such as the Innovation Cafes and the Medtech Hack-a-thons. SaniDrop is a locally made hand sanitizer registered under a startup called Collard Group Inc. PRISMS is a remote consultation system for managing sick newborns.
I also spent some time with the interns at the CAMTech Co-Creation Lab as well as these two startups. The goal was to develop sustainable business models that enable them to generate revenue and thrive in the long-term using the Entrepreneurial Thought & Action (ET & A) approach coined by Babson College. The ET & A stipulates that we should apply both our logical and creative abilities simultaneously within the context of the project, specifically in the culture and location of the project. Also, this approach suggests that we should include sustainability in our entrepreneurial pursuits both economically and socially that we find ourselves in.
I also used the ET & A methodology towards the sustainable business model workshop that I organized in early August with the interns at the Co-Creation Lab.
Interns participate at the Design Thinking Workshop.
I used this ET & A approach to re-evaluate the pricing strategies for SaniDrop.
In addition, we reached out to new market avenues for SaniDrop such as putting SaniDrop 50 milliliter bottles in travel agencies nationally such as Moses Tours & Taxis or Peter Taxi.
Market research fieldwork with Sandra Kigenyi, Sales Officer of SaniDrop, at Kiboko in Kampala, a bottling company in Mbarara and the Byamaka pharmacy in Mbarara.
For PRISMS, I developed financial forecasts graph to quantify how much revenue they could generate by charging a midwife 5000 UGX per month from September 2017 to December 2019.
When not at the Co-Creation Lab, I went to local restaurants with the CAMTech Uganda Team in Mbarara to try out some of their local dishes such as as Matooke and Luwombo. Luwombo, a dish with groundnut soup with fish, reminded me of a similar and stable dish in my home country of Cameroon. It was a nostalgic moment, and I was glad to share it with them.
With the CAMTech Uganda team having some Matooke and Luwombo on my first day in Mbarara.
In the last week of my fellowship, I co-organized the Design Thinking workshop with Nuriat Nambogo, Research and Grant Development Officer at CAMTech Uganda, at the 5th Annual CAMTech Uganda Medtech Hackathon. This year’s hackathon was focused on Innovating to Improve Neonatal and Maternal Health. The purpose this interactive workshop was to inform the attendees of the importance of building human-centered products with a sustainable business model at the start. The context of the workshop was well-received by the audience.
Team Kangaroo+, the winning team of the hackathon, applied a subscription model to charge their prospective customers, which was a model encouraged at the workshop. Kangaroo+ is a thermo-sensitive jacket that enables Ugandan moms to measure and monitor the temperature of their premature newborns in the comfort of their homes.
Nuriat Nambogo of CAMTech Uganda (left) and I refreshing the audience on the Design Thinking Workshop.
Moreover, this fellowship provided me with an opportunity to learn a new culture, apply my entrepreneurial skills and also make an impact in the healthcare space in a low-resource setting of Mbarara, Uganda. The teams were able to develop better business models and understand their customers better. In addition, I was able to learn about developing a business in a low-resource settings and interact with people from different background and cultures. In addition, the challenges within the healthcare system was similar to that which I experienced while growing up in Cameroon as the son of a physician. I felt more obligated to ensure that PRISMS and SaniDrop become sustainable and successful to improve the accessibility and quality of healthcare to all Ugandans.
Importantly, this experience wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering support and mentorship by the CAMTech Boston staff.
At the end of a successful Medtech Hac-a-thon with the CAMTech Boston staff (From left to right: me, Dr. Ryan Carroll, Abhinav Asthana, Dr. Kristian Olson, Sandra Butler, Savanna, Dr. Data Santorino, Molly Ward, Alexis Steel, Frank Santo and Nicholas Diamond).