Dawa Health founders Tafadzwa Munzwa (left) and Chungu Chama (right)
On 13 November 2020, BOOST UP 2020 ended with the final pitch competition, which was broadcast live from five countries. The competition was intense between the 18 participating startups, but Dawa Health from Zambia emerged as the victor and claimed the grand prize, a trip to Finland for two team members to access a variety of opportunities in the Finnish ecosystem next year.
It is unsurprising that this amazing new startup did so well during BOOST UP. Its founders know what they want to achieve and are willing to put in the work to get it, all while already possessing important skills to make their idea a reality.
The founders are Tafadzwa Munzwa, a fifth-year medical student, and Chungu Chama, who is in the process of completing his degree in computer science.
“Our team and the various skills we have make us unique,” says Tafadzwa. “I had the medical knowledge and Chungu had the technical expertise, and we both wanted to solve these health-related problems, and when I met Chungu, he shared my passion for problem solving, so made us decide to start working together.”
Chungu agrees, “For me, the decision to join Tafadzwa in building this startup was about using my skills to make an impact.”
Their first effort at working together was to create a blood pressure monitoring kit to use in the field of geriatrics. It soon became apparent that their idea wasn’t feasible, but the inspiration for what would become their flagship service DawaMom came from close to home. “My cousin was expecting a baby, and that made me realize how difficult it was to access general maternal health in Africa. That made me realise that we could apply the technology we were developing to maternal healthcare. Now our mission is to mitigate risks in maternal health so that we can decrease maternal mortality rates.”
Dawa Health is a weekly advisory application for expecting mothers accessible via mobile phones. The platform, DawaMom, works together with a self-monitoring kit that empowers mothers to receive remote and self-monitoring maternal health services. They are aiming to support 350,000 mothers by 2025.
The DawaMom app
Tafadzwa was inspired to apply for BOOST UP by a previous participant. “I knew one of the founders here in Zambia who took part in a previous BOOST UP programme. It can be hard to find the right partners and working with large organisations and programmes like SAIS 2 and the experience and networks that brings can make a huge difference to a startup. This other startup’s experience after BOOST UP, with all the opportunities that opened up for them because of their participation, made me think that if we could take part and maybe even win would lead to new opportunities for growth for us.”
Needless to say, the BOOST UP 2020 win was the perfect outcome for them, given that the big prize they won will provide an opportunity to access the Finnish innovation ecosystem. “Zambia’s ecosystem isn’t as mature as the one in Finland, so we’re looking forward to seeing how Finnish startups in healthcare work, and to expand our network into that space,” says Tafadzwa. “I’m also looking forward to experiencing the culture there and making connections to people there.”
Tafazwa with the other two Zambian BOOST UP finalists, Chipo Moyo representing Aquatech Solutions (left) and Katherine Milling representing Nature's Nectar (right)
But the win wasn’t the only thing they got out of BOOST UP 2020. “I think the biggest benefit I got from BOOST UP was meeting our mentor,” Tafadzwa says. “In fact, after the programme finished, we formalized this relationship and our mentor is officially serving on our advisory board. The other thing we really appreciated was meeting the other founders. It was amazing to meet other entrepreneurs who have similar experiences to ours. We’ve become friends over the course of the programme and I hope we can stay in touch.”