Is Necessity the Mother of Innovation?

A Dive into Edutainment, Public Health and Fintech Industries in Kenya.

Last week our Head of Production Ms. Kaburo Kobia together with Ms. Cythia Wandia who is CEO & Co-Founder of Kwara a leading Fintech Company and Dr. Kelvin Odongo Pharmacist and Head of concierge at Checkups Medical Hub, sat on a panel hosted by Strathmore University Law School in conjunction with the Microsoft Policy Innovation Centre to discuss the impact of covid-19 on various sectors such as education,public health sectors and fintech.

The onset of the pandemic saw the implementation of curfews and travel restriction here in Kenya. That meant very little business for cab/taxi service providers such as Uber, Bolt, Little Cab and the likes. Dr. Odongo and his team at Checkups Medical Hub saw an opportunity here. They partnered with taxi service providers to visit patients and treat them from the comfort of their homes. This had a ripple effect; greatly reducing the number of patients visiting hospitals which meant less congestion allowing healthcare workers who were already overwhelmed to focus on in-patients in critical condition. 

The covid-19 pandemic highlighted the magnitude of the inequalities in the education sector. All children have an equal right to quality education. This was put to test when schools closed early last year. Those who did not have access to electricity, internet services and smart phones or computer could not attend online classes or access learning materials. Children with access to resources have an added advantage compared to their counterparts. These inequalities are reflected in school performance which dictates the high schools they get to attend, the universities and courses they get offers to study and eventually the job opportunities they land and subsequently their income. 

Ms. Kaburo Kobia who is also a creative and tech enthusiast, articulated the role of Akili Kids! in supplementing the curriculum-based education through edutainment, which simply refers to a blend of education and entertainment. Akili Kids! focuses on the development of the whole child; their socio-emotional, psychological, mental, identity, academic and physical development. The edutainment industry faces a number of challenges among them, bridging the socio-economic gap. How do we ensure that all children have access to this content that helps them develop wholistically? Among the steps taken by Akili Kids! in bridging this gap include the tv station being Free To Air. In addition, the recent launch of the tv station on Baze, a video streaming platform powered by Safaricom, allowing parents and kids to access shows on the channel for just ksh.10 a day is also an effort to make edutainment more affordable and accessible to children across Kenya. 

Ms. Cynthia Wandia shared how SACCOs that were mostly accustomed to carrying out in-person operations, had to look for alternatives means of carrying out business when the pandemic hit. The lack of automated processes within SACCOs greatly affected their work efficiency and needless to say, their performance. Kwara helped these cooperatives embrace digitization. They created systems that ensured SACCO members could track their transactions and finances without having to physically visit branches.

It is impressive and encouraging to see how different industry players collaborated to find opportunities and come up with innovative ideas to mitigate the challenges brought about by the pandemic. It’s our hope that these collaborations will continue to be fostered even as the world resumes normalcy.

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