Waterford Kamhlaba United World College Southern Africa - (WKUWCSA)

Charles Kunene (Swaziland, WK 06-09)

I am a founder and product Designer at OBaa. OBaa is a healthcare startup that is developing three solutions in the field of telemedicine. The first, which, gave birth to this company, is a maternal health application designed to enable pregnant women in rural Ghana  receive the same quality of care that their urban counterparts have access to.

We are currently the first to digitize health records in Ghana, and are now pursuing partnerships with private hospitals in urban city-centers. In addition, we are adding more providers, including midwives and pharmacists. We believe that by taking maternal health in Ghana to the cloud, and centralizing the processes that govern how patients receive care, we can truly give health providers the tools they need to be effective in addressing their patient’s needs. We have successfully piloted in a region in Ghana and are now focused on bringing our solution to the urban city centers.

This year, we recognized 2 problems in the healthcare space here in the U.S. that needed solutions:

  1. Breastfeeding rates are low in the United States and recent mothers do not have easy access to lactation consultants who can help them breastfeed. Access to lactation consultations is made difficult by how expensive their services are, and how sparsely distributed they are.
  2. There is high demand for specialists (prosthetists, aestheticians, dermatologists, etc.), and not enough of them to staff all hospitals. They are also costly, which means that small hospitals and independent practices cannot afford them.

To solve both of these problems, we began working on 2 products, namely, OBaa Plus and OBaa Prime.

OBaa Plus, connects recent mothers to lactation consultants through text messaging and live video-calls. With Plus, we are making the consultation room virtual by allowing patients to collaborate with providers on their care, hosting health records on a HIPAA-compliant platform and providing mothers with more than one dedicated provider. This will allow mothers to access the care they need on-demand and to develop valuable relationships with their providers.

When I was at Waterford, I was introduced to David Carmichael, who at the time, was the founder and print designer of Ink on Fire. I approached David, curious about how he designed the magazine and he was my initial introduction to Photoshop.

This gave me my first taste of what it was like to bring to life what I imagined and since then I have been enamored with design. Eventually, I majored in graphic design and went on to explore interaction design and experience design.

There are plenty of fond memories that colored my experience at Waterford. Chief among them are the experiences I had with my close friends. I appreciate the simple things, so the times I spent doing things that seem mundane like playing tennis, rugby and squash with my friends or just plain joking around, those were the best experiences.

Designing mobile applications intuitively, with your customer in mind, is a difficult task. It involves paying an excruciating amount of attention to the smallest detail in order to deliver a user experience that is enjoyable, helpful and frictionless. The best designers are constantly trying to introduce solutions to improve upon processes that are archaic or that just don’t make sense anymore. That’s why startups like Airbnb, Dropbox, Uber, etc. exist. Airbnb recognized that millennials no longer cared about owning things like cars or homes and that the ‘sharing economy’ was more than just a trend, it is where the world is going. Dropbox recognized that there was a better way to store and share documents by using the cloud and giving users access to their files anywhere and on any device. For Uber, they disrupted the taxi industry. Now users don’t need to hail taxis or wait for long to receive a ride. Through a simple app on their phone, they can get a ride to pick them up from wherever they are and arrive at their destination without much hassle. Moreover, the friendliness of their drivers is one of the reasons that Uber is such a success. In terms of advising other young entrepreneurs, I would say that although startups are becoming trendy, they are still intensely difficult. This is a life that requires every entrepreneur to master an incredible degree of perseverance and faith, in both themselves and their ideas. Entrepreneurs will have to be able to inspire others to join them on this crazy journey, and to hone their leadership skills and their ability to turn a No to a Yes. The two key questions you need to ask yourself are:

  1. Do you know what your dream is?
  2. Can you figure out how to do it? Once you have answered both those questions, you can do anything you desire.

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