Co-founded by Zanga Musakuzi, Medsearch Zambia is a medical directory application that helps Zambians find the nearest health facility such as a hospital, pharmacy, or even a laboratory. Through the app, people can access necessary information such as what services a hospital offers and also set up an appointment. If it’s a pharmacy, the app will show what medication is available
Medsearch aims to contribute to governments efforts of achieving the universal health coverage target by ensuring that access to health information is made as easy as possible.
Medsearch was part of cohort 21 of our Discover Pre-accelerator programme, a programme that helps entrepreneurs with business ideas to launch their startups.
We had a chat up with Zanga, who now shares more details about the inspiration behind Medsearch, challenges, achievements and plans.
What inspired you to start your business?
What inspired me and my partner Dr Mataa Moses to start Medsearch was the enquiries that we would receive from friends and family concerning where they can find a prescribed drug or which hospital is offering a specific health service. There was a time my friend who is hypertensive travelled to Kasama and he ran out of medication because his stay was prolonged. He kept on calling me asking about where he could get his medication and this is when we decided that they should be a better way that Zambians can access health information and we went on to develop Medsearch app, where Zambians can have easy access to health information.
In the same line, we are helping small to medium health facilities increase their visibility to potential clients. When they subscribe to our app, we add them to our platform and people can see where they are located and what services they are offering.
What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
My business partner and I are not developers, we are health personnel who had a solution to a health problem that the majority of Zambians were facing. We had a challenge finding a developer who understood our goal and could translate the goal into an app. Initially, we found two developers who made us an app that was not good enough, and they left us with a non-functional app until we managed to find Chimuka Moonde, our IT Programmer. Chimuka has helped us to achieve our goal,
The other challenge we faced and still facing is trying to onboard health facilities on the app. We are still finding it difficult to convince them to adopt new ways of advertising their businesses. We appreciate the government for allowing us to run this app in Zambia, but we believe they can go further by onboarding all government hospitals on our app, especially those offering HIV and cancer screening services
Why did you apply for the Discover programme?
We chose to apply for the discover program because we needed help in understanding how we can grow our brand as Medsearch and refine our idea. We also needed help in understanding customers and how we could sell them our idea. We knew that Medsearch Zambia was the first of its kind on the market, so we needed time to learn and understand the market, especially that we are a start-up.
How did Discover help you shape your business idea?
After attending the Discover program, we went back to the business drawing board and came up with a better business model; the subscription model for health facilities. Not only did we redesign our business model but we also defined who our true customers are. This was achieved by understanding our unique value proposition and developing a proper customer journey.
The Discover Programme opened doors for us to network with other developers who were able to advise us on how we can improve our app. The program also helped us to develop a better business proposal that we can easily explain to people and they can understand what Medsearch Zambia is all about.
What has been the impact of your business so far?
The advent of COVID-19 has made many people appreciate our application, especially the time when movements were restricted. Many people used our app to find the medication they were looking for instead of going out and moving about in pharmacies. This further increased visibility to pharmacies that are onboarded on our app. Additionally, people used our app to find the nearest place where they could do a Covid test from and we were also able to disseminate daily COVID-19 updates using our app.
What plans do you have for your business?
One of the latest updates we have added to the app is the feature that allows customers to make an appointment with any of the hospitals on our app. This saves on time and reduces queues in hospitals because customers can make appointments at the comfort of their home.
The other feature that we are working on and hope to complete by April is the ability to purchase over the counter medication using our app and the pharmacy delivers.
We are looking forward to working with partners who can help us add all HIV and cancer screening centres to the app. This will contribute to the government’s effort of achieving universal health coverage
We aim to simplify healthcare services in Zambia, no one should find it difficult to access health services, regardless of their location. We want to be Zambia’s leading online medical directory making it easy for any hospital or pharmacy to grow its client base.
What are some of the achievements/awards that you would like to share with us?
Here is a list of awards:
1) 2019 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme
2) One of the 20 Best Innovation Zambia UNDP’s Accelerator Lab/ZICTA National Innovation Initiative 2020 for Innovative Zambian Entrepreneurs
3) Second best pitch BongoHive Discover Programme (20th Cohort)
4) Second place in the 2020-2021 Zicta innovation program
There are many programmes that you can benefit from as an emerging entrepreneur or established entrepreneur. Visit the programmes page for more information.