Innovator Spotlight: BenaCare

An interview with BenaCare Co-Founder, Naom Monari.

BenaCare

Tell us about your innovation. What is the problem? What solution are you offering? What populations are you serving?

The prevalence of chronic illnesses is rising and four out of five Kenyans cannot afford the kind of care that is being offered in the hospital. To narrow this gap, Benacare delivers quality and affordable clinical and supportive care to people with life-limiting illnesses in the comfort of their own homes. We also have an online platform that connects buyers of homecare equipment, like hospital beds, oxygen concentrators and suction machines, to sellers of used and affordable homecare equipment. All this results in more than 50% cost savings for patients and their families, a better quality of life for the patients and peace of mind for family members to return to their income-generating activities. 

We are primarily targeting patients with chronic illnesses who require long-term care, mainly cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, cancers, degenerative diseases and old age. Our clients are most often the families of these patients. We are only in Kenya, but we hope that by 2025 we will have expanded beyond our national borders. 

What is a recent example of progress? What are you currently celebrating?

We are excited about being able to lower healthcare costs even further. The average cost at Benacare stood between $10-15 per day until we realised this is not sustainable for a very large section of the population in rural areas and informal settlements. So we have moved into targeting the very low-income markets by providing training to family caregivers on supportive care for their patients, including feeding and grooming needs, wound care, medication administration and vital taking. As a result, the family caregivers are able to step into their caregiving duties with confidence and provide supportive care for their patients. In these cases, Benacare will only come in for clinical care and service monitoring. This service costs between $1 and $2 a day.

“Home-based care has become even more relevant post-COVID. Naom, a committed entrepreneur who has an in-depth understanding of the caregiving gaps in the country, together with her team at Benacare is bringing nursing care services to patients with palliative and chronic illness.

Benacare is keen on eliminating the long stays in the hospitals by promoting home based care hence reducing cost of care for low-and-middle-income families and as a result creating jobs for nurses/caregivers.” - Amadi Growman, Villgro Africa Investment Analyst

What are the primary challenges you're facing?

Our challenge has always been access to potentially life saving homecare equipment. Homecare equipment is very expensive, which is why we came up with the platform to connect families with used and affordable homecare equipment. Because we depend on used and affordable homecare equipment, it can be a big challenge when there are items that are not readily available. We've been trying to see how we can mitigate that. 

Additionally, the insurance sector poses a challenge for us in that they have not fully accepted homecare as part of their coverage. If insurances come on board and covers home nursing, this industry has the potential to grow very quickly.

Over the course of developing your innovation, what is something you have learned that might help other innovators?

The first lesson I have learnt is to be willing to receive support because as a founder, some of the problems we seek to solve have been there for ages (access to healthcare as an example), so a do-it-alone approach cannot work. It’s important to collaborate with key players in the market. In order to be able to truly deliver sustainable outcomes we have to be willing to learn from and collaborate with others. 

Secondly, learning is a continuous process as a founder. There is always something to learn from somebody else. If we can keep our minds open to learn from our employees, to learn from other founders, then that goes a long way. 

The third lesson is to continually innovate and find solutions for the people that you serve. A solution might have worked well two years ago, but that doesn’t mean it is still effective today. For us to remain actively in the market, we have to continue innovating. We must learn to also lower the cost of innovation. As we seek to innovate, we need to try to find points where we can enter into the innovation without spending too much time and funding. 

How has Villgro impacted your growth?

We are quite new to the Villgro portfolio, having joined around three months ago, but already they have made an impact. Villgro Africa was our first investor and this has gone a long way. Because they believed and invested in Benacare, they gave us a reference for the Global Citizen Award, through which we have gained access to a grant of $50,000. 

In the day to day, Villgro’s program managers and employees have been there to support us in terms of learning. Just recently we’ve reached out for support in the area of administration of contracts, communications and branding. Already in the first three months we’ve received a lot of support.  

 

 

BenaCare was one of the recipients of the Frontline Health Worker Innovation Challenge, a funding call partnership between Villgro Africa and Johnson & Johnson Impact Venture. Enjoy this video to hear more from the BenaCare team about their work.