Towett Ng’etich, the founder and CEO of Uthabiti Healthcare, has met the Queen for his innovation. He recently won the EO Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards (GSEA) and will soon be representing Kenya in Toronto, Canada.
The Fourth Year Communications and PR student at Moi University talked with Lynet Igadwah on, among other subjects, winning awards and what changed after meeting the Queen on innovation and entrepreneurship.
What’s the inspiration behind Uthabiti app?
In my early years of university, I always wondered why a significant number of students would be victims of unplanned pregnancies. With much research I was able to ascertain that a number of them had fallen victim to the fake morning-after pill, and unsafe condoms.
This by itself was my wake up call to leave a mark within our community.
Who do you target and how many have signed up for services since unveiling?
Our target ranges from nursing mothers who always have young ones on a constant supply of health products, to the youth who use our platform for sexual and reproductive health products, also the elderly and victims of chronic diseases. We have had up to 1,200 signups in a small area of operation.
When did you introduce the product in the market?
We had it pilot phase in 2017 August to December, publicly from January 2018.
How much have you invested in developing the application?
A round figure of $5,000 (Sh500,000).
How many people have you employed?
Three full-time, two volunteers (I and my co-founder), two interns. Well, our delivery team is more on part-time, and we have 47 sign ups.
What has the reception been like in the market?
Like any other new disruption, there are those who are quick to try our service, then those who are rigid to change.
Talk about the EO Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards (GSEA). How did you end up in there?
The competition brings together entrepreneurs who are either undergraduate and graduate students and appreciates the fact that one can do business at the same time study.
Competing against giant teams that have solutions that seek to shape the future of Africa.
Moreover, winning this award means a lot, especially after losing before it shows the typical life of an entrepreneur: some we win some we lose but you have to press on. Representing Kenya in Toronto, Canada means one thing – I will not have gotten that far just to lose, a lot is at stake.
Who is/are your mentors in life, business?
Well, my brother Taita Ngetich, who is also an entrepreneur. Jamie Pujara of Buy Rent, my EO mentor Bhavesh Kotecha of Sai Pharmaceuticals. Then we have Elon Musk; hehe.. I really hope to meet him one day. He is a true revelation that entrepreneurs can build anything.
You have actually met the Queen. That’s quite an accomplishment!
Yes, I have. I am a winner of the Queen’s Young Leader Award 2017, for the works we do in the health sector. This was a true revelation that a young boy from the heart of the Rift Valley can one-day walk up to the strongest monarch in the world with a testimony against unsafe health products.
What’s your take on the youth and unemployment in the country?
I’m a firm believer that youth are their own greatest assets. I also believe jobs are out there, only not in form of the white collar but in forms of companies and self-initiative. Instead of beefing your CV, beef your company profile.
What do you think about entrepreneurship awards? Killing creativity or motivating people to be their best?
I think they are building the best out of local talent. Entrepreneurship awards focus more on disruption – on what you are doing different from the rest.
If you were to place us next to pharmaceutical giant who majors in traditional ways of doing business, we would be nowhere. These awards give us credibility, the authenticity that other people would trust your product.
How are you juggling studies with business?
Good question. First I have a wonderful team that runs our operations, so when I am not there. I can rush to class and be back just in time for a client in the office. Think of it, most prominent names started their careers on campus: local politicians, journalists, self-made entrepreneurs.