Empowering Innovation: The Catalysts of Change in Uganda’s Tech Ecosystem

Empowering Innovation: The Catalysts of Change in Uganda’s Tech Ecosystem

In the heart of Uganda, a revolution in healthcare financing is taking shape. Mercy Ashaba, a visionary leader driven by a mission far greater than profit, the co-founder and CEO of Peletya Health is pioneering an online fintech platform designed to dismantle the financial barriers to quality healthcare for middle-income earners. This revolutionary idea is grounded in Mercy's personal and professional experiences, fused with a passion born out of tragedy and observation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mercy's education into the medical field, specializing in speech language therapy and audiology, exposed her to the harsh realities many Ugandans face when seeking medical care. The tipping point came when she witnessed firsthand the devastating consequences of financial unpreparedness in healthcare. Stories of families selling their properties to cover medical bills, and the heart-wrenching episode of a pregnant woman who lost her life over a mere fifty thousand Ugandan shillings, spotlighted a glaring gap in the healthcare system. It was these sobering experiences, coupled with the loss of a loved one due to lack of medical care, that ignited the fire to establish Peletya Health.

Launched in August 2021, Peletya Health is a lifeline that allows individuals to save as little as five hundred Ugandan shillings daily towards their healthcare needs. The platform is designed to be all-encompassing, covering any health challenge that requires financial assistance. By partnering with healthcare facilities, Peletya ensures that the savings are judiciously used for their intended purpose, reinforcing trust and accountability. The initiative extends beyond savings, offering micro-loans based on the amount saved, thus amplifying its impact.

The Youth Startup Academy Uganda (YSAU) has played a pivotal role in the growth of Peletya Health. Mercy attributes the platform's success to the comprehensive training, mentorship, and networking opportunities provided by the YSAU program. Joining the program with a clear vision but lacking business direction, Mercy and her team were sculpted into an investor-ready entity, culminating in a USD 30,000 pre-seed funding award from the Wind Fund program in partnership with HIEx and Reckitt. This achievement was a testimony to the potential of Ugandan startups when given the right support.

The training and mentorship went beyond financial readiness, instilling in Mercy the importance of a strong, diverse team. With health experts, a financial manager, and personnel with managerial prowess now on board, along with invaluable legal advice, Peletya Health navigated the necessary legalities, registrations, and partnerships with institutions like the Uganda National Registration Services Bureau. This holistic approach also opened doors to further investor opportunities.

Today, Peletya Health's impact is tangible, with a growing team of 15 employees, a subscriber base of 2,000 (over 50% of whom are active clients), and total savings surpassing USD 3,000. The success is a direct result of the diligent application of sales and marketing strategies learned through YSAU, aimed at educating clients on the critical importance of health savings.

Peletya Health's participation in the 5th Exhibition of Business Trend Setters at the Sheraton in 2023 marks another milestone, showcasing its commitment to setting new standards in healthcare financing. Mercy Ashaba and her team at Peletya Health are are nurturing hope, building resilience, and forging a path toward a future where quality healthcare is accessible to all. In Mercy's own words, "the sky is the limit," but for many Ugandans, Peletya Health is a glimpse of a brighter, healthier horizon.

The journey of Mercy Ashaba and Peletya Health signifies a vital reality in the realm of healthcare and fintech innovation within Uganda, presenting the strength of a steadfast vision, determination, and strategic support. Programs like the Youth Startup Academy Uganda (YSAU) and the collaborative efforts of partners such as International Trade Centre, NITA Uganda, Korea SMEs and startup Agency, and the implementer Hive Colab play an indispensable role in nurturing the seeds of innovation that startups like Peletya Health represent. Hive Colab offers a foundation of knowledge, a network of possibilities, and a framework upon which dreams can be built and realized. The investment in startups is an investment in the future, driving forward thinkers like Mercy and her team towards creating sustainable solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges. As Peletya Health continues to break new ground in making quality healthcare accessible for all, it shines hope to the immeasurable value of nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship. The success of Peletya Health also highlights the significant impact that collaborative support structures have in empowering startups to reach their full potential, shaping a more inclusive, healthier, and resilient society.

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