Oluwasoga Oni is a trailblazing health entrepreneur making the best of Nigeria’s underfunded healthcare sector. It is a sector which, like its education counterpart, regularly goes through sessions of industrial action as workers press home their demands from the government of the day.
Adequate medical outfits, absence of modern equipment and poor remuneration of medical doctors are some of the issues bedevilling the sector.
According to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, the doctor-to-patient ratio in Nigeria is at 1:6000, a far cry from the World Health Organisation’s recommended 1:600.
This scenario prompted Olwasoga Oni to come up with his health tech startup company, MDaaS, in 2016. To provide access to affordable healthcare, his startup uses an annual subscription-based model and a network of diagnostics centres across five Nigerian cities to provide some much-needed medical diagnostics.
Teaming up with three other colleagues at MIT, Genevieve Barnard Oni and Joe McCord, they founded MDaaS Global to provide solutions and solve part of the myriad of challenges Nigerians face, the majority of whom are within the low- and middle-income bracket.
Today, MDaaS Global builds and operates modern, convenient, and affordable diagnostic centres in underserved communities and offers services such as imaging, cardiac, and lab services to identify health issues earlier and more accurately for effective treatment.
Starting off as an equipment leasing company, MDaas has transitioned into operating its own diagnostics centres. Through its capacity-building programmes, MDaaS is also raising a bunch of skilled medical technicians to plug the hole of a lack of skilled technicians in the health sector.
The company has gone on to receive funding to expand its offerings. It has so far raised a total of $3.7 million from investors, including Newtown Partners, CRI Foundation, FINCA Ventures, Techstars and Future Africa.
How he came up with the idea of MDaaS
Speaking on how he came by the idea of MDaaS, which by the way stands for Medical Delivery As A Service, the business idea, he says, had been percolating for a while. He reveals that he was surrounded by health care while growing up. His dad is a medical doctor in a small town, and he had witnessed the issues he faced accessing medical equipment.
The idea of starting up a company to provide a solution for that challenge was further solidified during one of his classes while pursuing a Master’s Degree in System Design and Management at MIT.
During the class, they were challenged to build a company that could serve a billion people.
During that class, he was introduced to Joe (McCord), one of his co-founders and there, he thought about bringing him on board since he had spent a good portion of time working in Nigeria and, as such, understood the context of the business idea.
He recalls that he then met Genevieve (whom he is now married to and shares the task of running the startup with along with the two other guys on the team), also in the same class, while he drafted a long-time buddy of his way back from college, Ope Ologun to make the fourth co-founder.
Before launching MDaas, Oluwasoga had previously worked with several organisations, including Skye Bank, where he worked as a computer engineering intern, Zebra Technologies, where he worked as a firmware engineer; and EMC as a software engineer.
When asked what challenges he and the team have faced in the course of establishing the startup, he says it’s the issue of hiring the right personnel for clinical roles, such as doctors, radiographers, and lab scientists.
He said, “As an early-stage healthcare company in Nigeria, one challenge has been hiring for clinical roles, such as doctors, radiographers, and lab scientists, given the significant brain drain Nigeria experiences in those fields. In order to build a strong talent pipeline for our growing company, we have invested more heavily in our recruiting processes and developed our own training programs for young clinicians.”