A medicine delivery app promises help for struggling NGOs

Published On: 25 November 2021|

Overburdened healthcare workers at non-governmental organisations across Cape Town spurred a 4th year Bachelor of Pharmacy student at the University of the Western Cape, into action. Ms Jade Vester’s solution to the overtaxed medicine delivery system was to begin Mobile Meds, her idea for a business that revolves around a digital service, or app, that facilitates access to medicine.

Vester (above) was a finalist in the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2021, which held an award-giving event in Kempton Park in Gauteng, on 19 November. The Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme is a Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) initiative administered and implemented under the auspices of Universities South Africa (USAf).

She competed in Category One, of Innovative Business Ideas. In a record setting Intervarsity – the third since its inception in 2019 – 4168 entries were received across the public university system. Of those, 150 qualified for entry and, at the regional competitions, the number was whittled down to just 28 enterprises that made it to the finals.

“The idea for Mobile Meds came from a group project we had to do for Community Engagement elective. It involved community healthcare workers of an NGO. After talking to them, I realised that they are overburdened and struggling. So, I decided to create an app for them, and it just grew and morphed into what it is now.”

How it will work

She explained that the app is “pretty easy to use. You can log in as either a community healthcare worker or a patient. As a community healthcare worker, you will be able to verify the patient’s information against the information on the medicine parcel. They will also be able to log crucial information about the delivery of each medicine parcel. Patients will be able to update their information, so that they receive their medicine parcel at the correct address each month, view information about each medicine, such as how to take it and adverse effects. They can also check their next delivery date and clinic appointment date.”

How the app will make money

The business will have two revenue streams:

  • The first will come from a subscription fee that will be charged to the NGO to make use of the app.
  • The second will be generated by a R25 delivery fee that will be charged to each patient. From this R25, R10 will be given to the NGO performing the delivery and R15 will be kept by Mobile Meds.

The pharmacist in the making said the biggest cost would be the actual development of the app which could range from hundreds of thousands to millions, “so it’s a bit uncertain”.

She added that approximately 200 000 medicine parcels are delivered by NGOs within the Western Cape each month. And, she said, her business model showed that capturing just 5% of this – the equivalent of about 10 000 patients – would result in a turnover of R250 000 a month.

“At the moment there is no marketing strategy or marketing taking place. However, the plan is to market directly to the NGOs and then use their patients base initially,” she said.

Why is Mobile Meds unique?

Vester said: “Because it caters to the overburdened and underserviced public healthcare sector. Although we need to make money to run the business, the aim is not to make an insane amount of profit. It’s about improving access to medicine to ensure that all South Africans can have a good quality of life.”

Charmain Naidoo is a contract writer for Universities South Africa.