On The Ground

IMG_33031

Launch of the first Jacaranda Maternity mobile clinic

Nick Pearson worked with Acumen Fund in Nairobi before founding Jacaranda Health, a social enterprise dedicated to maternal and newborn health in East Africa. Nick discusses Jacaranda’s first mobile maternity clinics below:

Five weeks ago, Jacaranda Health opened our doors to the low-income mothers of Nairobi. In the peri-urban neighborhood of Kariobangi, our nurses, receptionists, marketing staff and our clinical advisor all pitched in to set up the exam rooms, lab tests and welcome tent on the grounds of Full Gospel Church, the community partner who hosted our mobile clinic for the day.

Photo by Emily Puckart

Our first antenatal patients walked in off the dirt road as soon as the gates were open, and the day brought us more patients than we could see in a single day — we had to reschedule several women for future dates. In the weeks since, we have rotated clinics among our seven community partners, and have been fine-tuning our clinical processes, testing different marketing approaches and doing focus groups with patients to improve services – all working toward our goal of creating a scalable, cost-effective model of maternity care for urban mothers.

A few highlights for us:

We are reaching the women we intended to, from a single mother of 17 getting her first medical visit 36 weeks into her pregnancy, to a mother on her fourth pregnancy who had experienced preterm labor and didn’t know where she should plan to deliver.

Our systems and protocols are working. We’ve been putting to test the application that lets us create medical records by mobile phones, our inventory management system and our clinical and emergency protocols. And they’re working: Our patient data is at our fingertips. Patients have successfully been referred to partner facilities for complications and delivery, and are already returning to us for postnatal care. Meanwhile, our partners from Harvard’s School of Public Health are progressing quickly on their baseline evaluation that will enable us to measure and report on our impact.

Integrated care works. Our patients get a truly one-stop antenatal visit, with every step from beginning to end — history taking, counseling, physical exams, lab tests, and birth planning — done by our nurses in the exam room. This integrated service means less wait time and continuity of care from a single provider. Our patients love it, and it’s clearly paying off in terms of patient retention. Our nurses have loved it too: One said that in her previous jobs, she had never been able to treat a “whole patient.” Overall, our nurses are responding well to the job’s mix of autonomy, training, emphasis on customer service, and involvement in quality improvement and problem solving.

Patients are sticking with our services. One of the big tests came last week, four weeks after the first clinic day. Would the women who’d come to the clinic on our first day come back for the antenatal follow-up visits that we’d recommended? Ten out of 11 of them showed up and paid full price, a level of customer retention and satisfaction that even surprised us. Our clients are pushing us hard to get our first fixed clinic up and running so they can deliver their babies with us, and our feedback forms so far show 95% of customers giving us 5-stars for patient satisfaction. As much as any of our clinical and technology innovations, this customer satisfaction is what will change the way that maternity care is delivered in Africa.

These are still early days and there are plenty of challenges ahead, but we’re optimistic based on what we’ve seen so far. We’re moving quickly toward launching our next clinic — the fixed facility that will provide deliveries. We are also starting a blog to record the thinking behind our business and our experience providing maternal healthcare in east Africa. We hope you will come back to learn more about our progress.

Comments

Four Emerging Leaders Building the Future of Pakistan

With 60% of Pakistan’s population living under less than a dollar a day, the external narrative of Pakistan is characterised by what the country lacks; a lack of security, a lack of women’s rights, a lack of access to education, and the list goes on. What this narrative ignores are the individuals who work tirelessly to plug those gaps. From human rights to education to food security, Acumen Pakistan Fellows are affecting change through organizations committed to tackling poverty. Their work is truly inspiring, promising a hopeful future for Pakistan. Here are four fellows that are building this future for Pakistan and come together periodically to share learning experiences and grow as leaders. Through five seminars, the fellows have strengthened skills of adaptability, communication, empathy and problem solving through listening. If you are committed to creating change in your community, apply now to be an Acumen Pakistan Fellow. The deadline is 29 September. [Read More]

Acumen Partners with AlphaSights to Better Access Global Expertise

In our work investing in social enterprises that deliver critical goods to the poor, there is a substantial amount of work to evaluate each investment opportunity. A critical part of the diligence process, particularly when it comes to emerging markets, is speaking with industry experts who can provide reliable information about sector trends, market dynamics and public policy – all of which affect our evaluation of potential investment opportunities. [Read More]

DE-BUNKING THE BURDEN MYTH: IMPACT DATA GOES LEAN

Our manifesto begins, “it starts by standing with the poor.” Yet for good reasons, the sector has found it challenging to measure which customers are actually being served through social impact investments – getting accurate data on incomes is notoriously difficult and the logistical challenge and cost of conducting surveys in person prohibitive. [Read More]

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]

Give Impact Investing Time and Space to Develop

Impact investing has captured the world’s imagination. Just six years after the Rockefeller Foundation coined the term, the sector is booming. An estimated 250 funds are actively raising capital in a market that the Global Impact Investing Network estimates at $25 billion. Giving Pledge members described impact investing as the “hottest topic” at their May 2012 meeting, and Prime Minister David Cameron extolled the potential of the sector at the most recent G8 summit.  Sir Ronald Cohen and HBS Professor William A. Sahlman describe impact investing as the new venture capital, implying that it will, in the next 5 to 10 years, make its way into mainstream financial portfolios, unlocking billions or trillions of dollars in new capital. [Read More]

10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]