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No. 1


Diana Wangari

Said Business School, Oxford University
Healthcare and Business

Andrew Ologunebi

Diana was born in Nairobi, Kenya and lived with her mother, a public servant and her father, a military pilot. Unfortunately, Diana’s parents separated when she was 12, leading to Diana, her mother and sister moving in with her grandmother. During that separation, Diana had to figure out how to help pay her school fees through doing odd jobs. Eventually, despite still being a teenager, Diana was able to find a job at the local newspaper as an opinion writer. Throughout her high school years, Diana wrote a weekly column for her local newspaper documenting her life as a student. When Diana got a place at medical school, she transitioned her column into a medical student diary and moved over to The Standard Kenya, the second largest paper in Kenya at that time. These experiences shaped Diana’s beginnings in journalism and sparked her interest in public health communication.

Whilst studying Medicine, Diana realised that it was extremely difficult to work within the Kenyan healthcare system due to the enormous systemic issues it faced. As a journalist, Diana decided to start writing more on public health and started to look for more opportunities to learn more about the discipline. She came across the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium and after speaking to her editors and supervisors, they were able to create a journalist-in-residency programme for her which allowed her to go to Belgium and examine how to communicate public health challenges in the Global South more effectively.

This period coincided with the Ebola outbreak of 2014. As a result, Diana had the opportunity to work on the ground in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Alongside a team of people from the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Diana was able to develop a media communication tool for the Ebola outbreak that went on to be used by the World Federation of Science Journalists. This tool was also used to train a majority of science journalists in West Africa on how to adequately report on the outbreak. Diana eventually returned to Kenya to finish her medical degree. After graduating from medical school, she spent three months with the Reuters Foundation in London before moving back to Kenya and working remotely to figure out her next steps.

Diana knew she wanted to remain within the healthcare ecosystem, but also knew she did not want to practice medicine in the traditional sense. It was then that Diana met her co-founder, an African American doctor and former toxicologist. Together, they decided to form a for-profit social enterprise with the premise of removing the access barriers within healthcare for patients with chronic conditions, such as patients that visit hospital frequently to collect the same medication each time.

In 2016, Diana and her co-founder created iSikCure, an app that allowed patients to remotely order medication rather than having to queue up in hospital for it. The duo pitched their start-up idea at a competition run by Boehringer Ingelheim and received $250,000 in seed funding. With that investment, they were able to launch the platform in the capital of Kenya.

Despite 18,000 app downloads within the first 6 months, iSikCure still came across a few teething issues in its infancy stage. Firstly, although the mobile penetration of Kenya is around 96%, only 50% of the population own decent smartphones. The team found that people would often download iSikCure, then delete it a few months later after using it only once. After some market research, Diana and her co-founder decided to iterate their product. They set-up local specialised medical clinics to allow patients to initiate their first point of contact in-person. From there, they would meet with the patients, provide a baseline evaluation and deliver subsequent follow-up remotely via the app.

In 2018, iSikCure then became CheckUps Medical Centre and launched with eight small clinics in Kenya. However, demand was so high that the start-up moved to consolidate the small clinics into three major clinics in Nairobi and opened eight smaller pick-up points around the country. More fundraising efforts from Diana resulted in a $1 million grant from the Asia Africa fund which allowed the start-up to scale further in Kenya. The team also brought on a partner who was able to invest $5 million which paid for CheckUps Medical Centre’s expansion to South Sudan and eventually Uganda. Diana’s start-up is currently in the process of building 10 large clinics in South Sudan and a further two in Uganda.

CheckUps Medical Centre has been recognised at the United Nations Development Programme Social Good Summit in Geneva, at VivaTech in Paris, and has won awards from Get in the Ring (2018) and GlaxoSmithKline (2018). Diana served as CEO of the company and was nominated for the Top 40 Under 40 Women in Kenya, Management Today 35 Women Under 35 and the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Africa 2019. Diana is currently undertaking an MBA at Oxford University through the Skoll Scholarship for social entrepreneurs, which takes only one student from each continent per year.

“I have come to use this slogan to define my purpose The Mission is simple: More Female CEOs.”

In April this year, Diana exited CheckUps Medical Centre and, recognising the gaping capital need for more female-led companies and the need to get more women in executive positions, Diana set up Lens Africa Fund. Through investing in gender-diverse companies, investing in women-owned or led enterprises, and investing in companies whose products or services helps advance gender equality, Lens Africa Fund is aiming to redefine the narrative around women and health in East Africa.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, Diana became aware of the challenges some of her patients with chronic diseases in Kenya were facing. Therefore, alongside other Oxford MBAs, she has co-founded, MedBoda, a community medicine distribution platform for patients with non-communicable diseases that seeks to reinforce patient support groups’ negotiating power for medical supplies. Diana is unable to disclose the amount she has raised but has secured a joint venture with a global logistics company.

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