Dr. Ebinabo Ofrey, Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder of GeroCare Solutions Limited in this interview with ITPulse’s team, gives an inspiring story behind the founding of Gerocare. He also gives reasons why he decided to apply for the Africa’s Business Heroes competition, sponsored by Jack Ma Foundation in the healthcare category, and the journey so far to be among the Top-20.
What inspired you to initiate the GeroCare solutions
A few years ago, in the space of one year, my father had two strokes. This was not because there was nothing I could have done, but it was simply because I was in a different location at the time. Subsequently, my mother called me and told me her blood pressure and her blood sugar were high, but her next statement can be said to be the pivotal statement that initiated the founding of Gerocare. She said I had neglected them. I, however, thought that was not possible but after closely analysing my life and my career, I realized that while focused on my family and business I had subconsciously neglected them. I also realized that this problem was not peculiar to me but to millions of Africans living and working far away from where their parents are. As such the question was is there a way whereby you can provide medical care for your parents and elderly loved ones no matter where you are in the world to not only ensure an improved quality of life for them but also constantly remind them that you care? The answer was a resounding no. My co-founder and I thus created Gerocare to solve this problem for my parents and the millions of elderly across the continent experiencing the same thing. We also extended our solution to cater to other underserved segments of people with a mission to pioneer what we like to call medical inclusion. Medical Inclusion is leveraging technology to provide access to medical care to underserved segments of people beginning with the elderly and progressing to coverage of remote rural areas.
Specifically, what areas of healthcare challenges is the solution addressing?
The vast majority of elderly citizens (65 years or older in age) in Nigeria, and many other African countries, battle severely with deteriorating health across many different ailments. In most of these cases, neither the state nor their adult children or extended families are able to manage this situation adequately. GeroCare is solving the absence of a structure for medical care for the elderly and improving the current average life expectancy in Nigeria and the rest of Africa. GeroCare leverages technology and traditional African family values of adult children caring for their parents to provide a structure for medical care for the elderly. GeroCare makes it easy for Africans within and outside their home countries to subscribe to regular doctor home visits for their parents. Individuals are able to register patient details and make payments through the GeroCare application. Patients are immediately matched with a doctor who is in close proximity and monthly medical visits begin. The family is updated with regular information as to the health status of the patient. In addition, the family can pay for any required tests and drugs via the app for direct delivery. GeroCare is thus playing a pivotal role in SDG 3 which is ensuring health and wellbeing for all ages where most programs still marginalize the elderly and SDG 9 Industry, innovation, and Infrastructure by providing an innovative health infrastructure leveraging on tech.
How did you get to know about Africa’s Business Heroes competition?
This is my second time applying for Africa’s Business Heroes Competition and on both occasions, I found out about the competition via social media.
What have you learned from the competition?
I have learned quite a lot from being a part of the competition from being able to succinctly describe the value of my solution to strategies to run the business. However, the most significant impact the competition has had on my business to date was from the second stages judges where I was made aware of certain risks and liabilities we may be exposed to as a business and being provided with ways to mitigate these risks.
GeroCare has been shortlisted for the top 20, what are your chances that you get to the top 10 and win any of the grant categories?
I am aware every company in the top 20 has passed through a rigorous process to get there and is all deserving of being a part of the top 20. I am however confident in our chances of progress to the next stage not because I in any way believe we are better than any of the rest, but simply because I believe almost all our experiences as a business, in other competitions and the strength of the team have all been geared towards bringing us to this stage in the competition and would take us to the next level of being a part of the Top 10 at least.