Tanzanian businesswoman Lilian Makoi has responded to a gap in the Tanzanian market with her business venture, Jamii Africa. Here is how her business is changing Tanzania for the better.
Makoi’s journey to Jamii Africa began with a terrible experience. She lost a family member to a treatable disease. This death could have been prevented if the immediate family could afford the medical costs. She then began researching health access in Tanzania and saw the shocking statistics. In her research, she found that in-access and in-affordability to medical services was a problem facing 70% of the Tanzanian population, equaling about 37 million people. Health insurance for low-income families is thus desperately needed in Tanzania.76% of Tanzanians fall under the low-income category, meaning they earn less than $70 a month. The majority of which fall into the informal sector. According to SheLeadsAfrica.org, “the penetration of health insurance is as low as 4.5 percent and this makes the formal sector its only population. The main reason they have health insurance is because they get it as benefit from the employer.” Lack of health insurance leads to a host of issues, such as maternal deaths, home births and deaths from curable diseases. The majority of health insurance providers cited high insurance administration costs as the reason for not addressing this issue. As such, Makoi began to think of a way to respond to this issue. In comes Jamii Africa.
How Jamii Africa works:
Jamii Africa targets those within the low-income group who earn less than $70 a month. The majority of the administrative activity is done via mobile phone, cutting out most of the administrative cost.
According to their website, Jamii aims “to change Africa by making products and services that are cheap and accessible through digitization.” As such, technology is a huge part of making this service possible. Makoi explains her service to She Leads.org.
“Our mobile technology performs all the administration activities of the insurer. Jamii is also matched in strategic partnership with Jubilee Insurance and Vodacom. This helps cut insurance administration cost by 95%. In all, this results in a health insurance product at $1 a month. It immediately makes health insurance affordable to 47 million people in just Tanzania! Jamii is already impacting the lives of over 8,000 families.”
Jamii has 20 000 active users, works with 400 active hospitals, and has raised $1 million dollars since its inception.
Makoi explains to Moguldom, “with Jamii, users easily call Vodacom’s M-Pesa USSD menu and select a policy fit for their family size and what they can afford. We have policies costing from $1 a month to $70 a year which also vary from 3 months/6 months to 12 options for individuals or families. After selecting the desired policy, they pay the premium via M-Pesa and our platform manages their benefit ledger, claim processing and payout to hospitals. The platform cuts out the need for paperwork and manpower that makes insurance expensive. For each selected policy option, the user can spend 500 times the premium paid to access medical services. The policyholder is then allowed to get medical services within the benefit cap, upon which we pay the hospital’s approved claims via M-Pesa.”
Makoi’s efforts have not gone unrecognized. In 2016, the World Economic Forum named her Most Innovative Woman in Technology, Africa of that year. Makoi joins the ranks of countless other African innovators working to improve Africa for Africans. Of innovation, she says, “We believe that it is only Africans that can change Africa for the better. So long as no one is doing anything ‘different’, we will always be a culprit of copycat products and solutions for problems that are not even ours. We love to be pioneers to building highly innovative original solutions and understand the rewards of doing so.”
Do you know any other African innovators changing the continent for the better? Let us know in the comments below!
[Source: Moguldom – https://goo.gl/MDjmHZ]
[Source: She Leads Africa.org – https://goo.gl/hG9z5D]