It is quite rare to come across people with little qualification in the healthcare sector deeply involved in in the sector as Aloys Rukundo is.
Having graduated from University of Rwanda with a degree in Business Management and then working for two commercial banks, Rukundo decided to become self-employed by joining a sector which surprised many as it has little to do with his higher learning qualifications.
After keenly studying the health sector in the country, Rukundo was able to find some gaps and challenges which could be an investment opportunity.
Rukundo established two challenges which he intended to address. He figured that he could tailor-make solutions making the health sector more responsive to the needs of patients suffering acute and chronic diseases characterised by stigma making many to shun hospitals and medication that can prolong their lifespan.
Aloys Rukundo, the founder of ALANZO INC LTD.
World Health Organization statistics show that each year 40 million people across the world are in need of palliative care, 78 per cent of them live in low and middle-income countries with only 14 per cent of them receiving care. Rukundo says he found the statistics to be true at least in the case of Rwanda.
Business Times’Simon Peter Kalisa sat down with Rukundo for insights into his company (ALANZO INC LTD).
You’re a banker how did you end up in the health sector?
Entrepreneurship has no boundaries, as long as you are paying attention to changes happening in your locality. For me, it involved identifying what problems people were facing and identify the solutions needed. That’s what I have learnt and been doing since I started my business in 2017.
What is your business model?
My business has two aspects; first is medical delivery to homes especially to those people who are suffering from chronic diseases, especially cancer where patients might find it difficult to get medication on their own.
The second aspect is consultation and home nursing. Here we get specialised doctors who attend to patients whose life is threatened by acute diseases in their homes.
But, our services don’t only target patients but also those people who cannot find time to provide care to their relatives when they’re admitted to the hospital, especially when treatment takes long. It is often hard for many people to provide the much needed care and continue working, so we charge a small amount to provide a caretaker for the patient.
Considering that we barely have an adequate number of doctors in the country, how do you have specialists?
Doctors, nurses and other medical workers work in shifts so we deal with them when they are off their official duty to meet with our clients who are usually at their homes and provide them with the treatment required.
How do clients reach you for your services?
The client can get in touch with us with a direct call or via our mobile application called HELLOMED, which is available on Google Playstore for Android phones. A large number of customers are also referred to us by former clients.
What has been the response of the market?
The reception is fair so-far because as I have said most of our clients we get them through referrals. This gives us hope because this shows that the business is gaining trust and confidence. Though the mobile application is not performing to the expectation, we have to continue the customer-first approach.
What are some of the difficulties you have faced so far?
First was to get the approval of the Ministry of Health because it was the first business of its kind locally. It was difficult to explain it to the Ministry officials for them to really understand the model.
Second, we face competition from another player who is well financed and established and providing similar services.
What are the achievements have you made and your future plan
I have a lot to talk about the achievements in but among the greatest milestones was securing $5000 funding capital from Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program which was a huge boost.
Since then my company has been getting international recognition. For instance, this year the company was selected to take part in Dubai-Chambers start-up fellowship and during the CEO forum we seized the opportunity to be among ten health start-ups in Africa to take part in one of the biggest forums globally which will take place in Paris.
We are also in negotiations with Sanofi-Aventis, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies to be exclusive agent of its products.
Going forward, I plan to position my company to be a supplier of medical products and a renowned palliative care service provider in the country.