From the blog

Felix Kimaru: improving family health in Kenya

His name is Felix Kimaru and he’s the co-founder and CEO of Totohealth, a Kenyan award-winning innovation that utilizes text and voice messages to allow mothers from marginalized communities to monitor their health and that of their children right from pregnancy to when the child is 5 years old.

Felix attended the 5th edition of E4Impact MBA in Nairobi (Kenya) at Tangaza University College. He enrolled in the program because he wanted to bridge the Computer Science knowledge that he had to the world of business.

Totohealth was named as one of the most innovative companies of 2016 by Fast Company and was also selected to represent Kenyan innovations in 2016’s GES attended by the former President of United States Barrack Obama.

But let’s learn more on it!

1.How was your Business Idea born?

I was born and raised in a remote village in Eldoret, Kenya. The village setting presented many challenges, but losing my aunt when she was expectant was the most painful of them all. My auntie passed on at home when she was in the last days of her pregnancy. This sad moment of my life spark an interest in me to find a solution that would save lives of mothers and children in our country. After extensive research and interviews, I founded Totohealth in 2014.

2.How can your business improve the life of the beneficiaries of your activities? 

The majority of Africans do not have access to adequate maternal and childcare due to inadequate resources thereby delaying detection of child development abnormalities to heights that diminish the benefits of any intervention.

Totohealth’s key focus areas are:

  1. Empower parents with credible and targeted child and maternal health care information based on the stage of pregnancy or age of the child.
  2. Allow parents to remotely monitor development of their pregnancies or children through SMS/Voice, thereby allow them to seek timely care whenever there is a deviation from a normal child or pregnancy development.

Totohealth SMS and Voice platform sends all information based on how old the child is or stage of pregnancy of the parent. Our voice messages are translated to local languages to allow parents to understand the messages even better.

We currently have 27,000 parents registered to Totohealth. Each parent pays a subscription fee of KES 200 per year to receive our messages.

We have seen a drastic increase in number of parents delivering at health facilities. 92% of parents registered to Totohealth deliver under a skilled birth attendant compared to 62% of those not registered to Totohealth. In addition to that, 87% of Totohealth parents finish at least 4 antenatal clinics compared to 47% of those not registered.

“We have counted 27,000 parents registered within 2 years of operation
and during the MBA we have had an investment of $50,000 in exchange of equity”

3.What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience? 

There where a few among which I can list the lack of financing, especially at pre-revenue stage, and the lack of business knowledge (consider I am a trained computer scientist. Difficult for me was also building a strong and committed team and finding a working business model and a product-market fit for Totohealth.

4.In your opinion, what are the main qualities an entrepreneur should have?

The one key quality is being proactive. Every successful entrepreneur is proactive. They always stick their heads up to look for opportunities where no one does.

5.Is there a person you are inspired by, i.e. an entrepreneur or a particular mentor?

I consider myself an innovator. One who designs new solutions for problems and gets them to the market. In this regard, Elon Musk the founder of Tesla and Solar City inspires me a lot.

6.What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur?

Every entrepreneur has to be persistent and committed: never give up!

7.Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?

In November 2014, I hired 1 person for the first time. The thought of creating employment to an extra person still excites me.

8.Could you tell us how the MBA has helped you and your business?

I chose this particular MBA program because of its practicality. Not only does it fill me in with business knowledge but the business coaches in the program has helped shape my business model to a more sustainable one. Out of that, we have had an investment of $50,000 in exchange of equity. Previously, our business was to risky for any investor but we are starting to see the shift which we attribute to the new business model.

Learn more on Totohealth


Facebook page: totohealth

Twitter: @totohealth



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