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Marthe-Sandrine: Building Digital Tools to Make Healthcare Accessible for Africans

Marthe-Sandrine: Building Digital Tools to Make Healthcare Accessible for Africans

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Marthe-Sandrine Eiymo mwa Mpollo, the founder of NaYa Limited. Let’s learn about what’s happening there and how Marthe-Sandrine is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Marthe-Sandrine, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through NaYa Limited?

Marthe-Sandrine: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Without health we can't have fun with our friends or feed our kids and families. Being unable to access healthcare, paying for medication, or seeing a doctor prevents us from doing the things we enjoy now, and endanger our abilities to pursue fulfilling careers. NaYa's health credits help people in Africa to pay for their care without delay even when they are short of money, so they can get back to work and take care of their loved ones. Our digital health credits have helped mothers to enjoy a pain-free pregnancy by exchanging them in pharmacies to access stomach pain medicines promptly. With health credits accessible from their mobile phones, patients now have the peace of mind to get their care even when money is short, and pay later.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Marthe-Sandrine: I grew up in Cameroon, Central Africa, watching Doctors Without Borders shows and dreaming about traveling the world like them to heal people. Years later when I completed my PhD in life sciences research in the US, that idea to help improve the health of my community with tools adapted to their challenging environment was present. I started drafting ideas using what I learned, finding disease causes and designing therapies. Listing barriers to cure orphan diseases affecting people of African origins, and prioritizing solutions compatible with their challenging environment, within my field of expertise, to address the barriers. Doctor Without Borders shows triggered my motivation for bringing relief to people living with health challenges.

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work, would you say?

Marthe-Sandrine: The ability to afford care when needed without delay, without having to choose between feeding or clothing yourself, provides great peace of mind and health security. That is essential to help protect people’s productivity and prevent many from falling into health worsening-induced poverty. By providing ways to access timely healthcare, our work not only helps people with low income who have none to insufficient medical coverage return to good health and work faster, but also build economic resilience for our in-network medical providers who can now secure predictable income. Overall our work improves equitable access to healthcare and the uptake of life-saving medicines by vulnerable populations.

Spiffy: That’s so inspiring! Can you share a recent organization milestone or initiative, and the impact it makes on your audience/community?

Marthe-Sandrine: Sure. Working with community groups which serve people with low or intermittent earnings is important for our health-access solutions, so that we can reach people who may find it difficult to get care due to financial constraints. Since January 2024, through partnerships with community savings groups which provide funding to small businesses and individuals with low income (microfinances institutions), we are now able to improve access to preventative and essential care to close to 10000 individuals, the majority women micro entrepreneurs.

Spiffy: Oh wow! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Marthe-Sandrine: As a child I thought I could only contribute to bettering people's health by becoming a doctor myself, but today our work helps people to get to see doctors. So I am still contributing to bettering people's health, but differently than what I envisioned. There are many ways in which we can contribute to better our world. Sometimes it is by connecting the dots to solve challenges from lived-experiences like I did, or sharing our bold vision with other people, or again pursuing a childhood dream—all things we all are capable of. That is what entrepreneurship is about. So go on and explore your entrepreneurship spirit.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Marthe-Sandrine—it’s been an honor!

Marthe-Sandrine Eiymo mwa Mpollo is a Cameroonian-born life scientist who builds digital tools to make healthcare accessible for all. She co-founded NaYa, a MIT SOLVE-supported mobile first health access platform connecting individuals and medical providers to reduce health inequalities. (First published on the Ladderworks website on March 25, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.