Health innovations

How inclusive business models are making health accessible for all

Healthcare can be simplified by bringing it to the doorstep of people living in underserved areas. In remote areas, businesses can go the last mile by using available resources and technology.

It is critical to raise awareness and address non-communicable diseases, often overshadowed by the pandemic but also leading to more victims in low-income communities.

Providing affordable choices can improve health access for different parts of the economic pyramid.

Using a holistic approach and supplementing health products with information builds trust and engagement.

opthalmologist checking patient's eye, Africa

Inclusive Business can provide healthcare to the underserved.

Simplifying healthcare by bringing it to the doorstep

Healthcare is often complicated, and a lack of awareness or availability of affordable options can particularly hinder those living in remote areas from accessing optimal services. Health innovations can make healthy options more accessible and simplify healthcare by bringing it to the doorstep.

For example, iDrishti, an inclusive business providing eye care in India, supplements its district hospitals with a mobile eye clinic that can reach remote villages and even provides eyeglasses. In Colombia, healthcare services business Omnivida provides “Angels” who come to patients to provide them with empathetic, personalized approaches to health challenges.

In remote areas, businesses can go the last mile by using available resources and technology. For example, Dawaa Dost sells medicines online in India using a network of local general stores called Kiranas. “We want to reach a billion Indians by 2030, and we will tap into an existing resource network to achieve this goal. There are 15-18 million Kiranas (small grocery stores) in India that cover every nook and corner of the country. Our tech infrastructure, enabling QR code purchasing, allows us to sell medicines via Kirana stores,” says Amit Chaudhary, the founder of Dawaa Dost.

medical distribution

Distributing medical products in remote areas can be challenging.

Raising awareness and addressing non-communicable diseases

While Covid-19 has dominated our thoughts, deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) continue to rise and are particularly impacting poor communities. Every year, 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 die from NCDs, 85 per cent of whom are living in low and middle-income countries. It is often difficult for patients to access affordable care for these diseases.

Around the world, inclusive businesses are tackling this challenge. Omnivida serves primarily chronic disease patients in Colombia, with a focus on cancer, diabetes and high-risk pregnant women. Their holistic care model offers free patient services: “Our service is completely free for our patients, as our business model is structured around financing our services through the pharma industry, providers, and insurers. Furthermore, we provide those allies with tools to optimize their populations’ health management, besides generating important savings and improvements in their processes,” explains Mateo Gómez, Growth Director at Omnivida.

In Kenya, where more than 40 per cent of all hospital deaths are due to non-communicable diseases, lab of tomorrow supported online Health Games as an innovative way to raise awareness of NCDs, particularly among the youth. “We see Health Games as an effective educational tool because the learning process is fun, and the data-driven approach allows us to provide targeted learning content for each player,” says Lisa Sophia Zoder, Project Manager of lab of tomorrow.


Health Games can educate young people on non-communicable diseases.

Providing affordable choices to improve health access

Providing products and services that increase patient health in underserved areas benefits from an approach that includes a range of choices. Health innovations include healthy and affordable options. For example, in Nigeria, the founders of plant-based food pioneer VeggieVictory ensured that their products would match the price of beef, lower than in many other countries, to enable healthy alternatives for more people. BabyGrubz, which provides nutritious baby food, has examined ways to make their products more affordable, including producing smaller sachets: “We constantly are looking for ways to bring down production costs through innovative raw materials and bulk production, and we are currently looking into sachetization of our products,” founder Seun Sangoleye told us. These products provide a range of affordable options, increasing choice for customers.

iDrishti’s model is also based around providing options. “We have a philosophy of allowing patients to have choice. The intent is to make sure that we have products that can service any layer of the economic pyramid,” founder Kiran Anandampillai says. For example, they provide eyeglasses for sale at a range of prices because there is a small economic pyramid even in a village.


Inclusive Business can improve health access and give patients a choice.

Using a holistic approach builds trust and engagement

Health insurance is not always accessible and requires trust and awareness. The SAGABI partnership, a joint initiative by GIZ, Allianz and BIMA, found that a holistic approach was more effective. SAGABI’s approach centers on health insurance complemented by digital health services.

“Since people’s problems and concerns are often interrelated and complex, it is not sufficient to provide insurance as a stand-alone product. Instead, it is necessary to apply a holistic approach that increases trust, understanding and engagement of low-income customers. The New Customer Journey used a hybrid approach designed to let customers shape the services around their needs and pain points and help them make informed decisions about their health and finances,” Matthias Range of GIZ explained.

In Nigeria, BabyGrubz also provides a holistic approach by complementing the sale of affordable, high quality baby food with nutrition counseling to raise awareness of proper feeding techniques. Similarly, Dawaa Dost not only provides affordable medicines, but also works to increase medicine adherence and provide credible online information.

Inclusive businesses working to create innovative models and raise awareness provide hope that affordable, accessible health care, services and nutrition can be expanded to those living throughout the world, among all economic levels of society. Addressing global health equity means providing accessible health solutions for all.

hospital in Rwanda

Global health equity means accessible health solutions for all.

Additional resources

Photo credits

Alexandra Harris

Alexandra Harris is a writer, editor and communications specialist with a focus on sustainable private sector development. She previously worked for the International Finance Corporation and the Asia Foundation.


Health insurance for the underserved: Experiences from a public-private partnership in Ghana

The SAGABI partnership between GIZ, Allianz, and BIMA uses mobile channels to increase access to insurance and health services in Ghana. Matthias Range of GIZ shares experiences and lessons learned.
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Table of contents

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Health innovations: Making health accessible for all

Health has been top of mind for most people around the globe during the last two years, as the Covid-19 pandemic upended daily life and critical systems. Beyond Covid-19, the world is facing a number of health crises exacerbated by poverty, including malnutrition and chronic diseases. In many places, people cannot afford nutritious food for their children or the medicines they need. How can businesses innovate to make health more accessible and inclusive? In this issue, we profile entrepreneurs who are changing the game by providing affordability, choice and healthcare solutions for underserved populations.

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Health insurance for the underserved: Experiences from a public-private partnership in Ghana

The SAGABI partnership between GIZ, Allianz, and BIMA uses mobile channels to increase access to insurance and health services in Ghana. Matthias Range of GIZ shares experiences and lessons learned.

Providing accessible and affordable medicines in India

Amit Choudhary explains how the online pharmacy he founded, Dawaa Dost, taps into local grocery stores in India to provide affordable generic medicines, while also increasing awareness to improve medicine adherence.

Building a “control tower” to support patient needs in Colombia

Recognizing the need for continuity of patient care, Mateo Gómez elaborates how Omnivida’s care model relies on data and Omnivida “Angels” who accompany patients on their health journey.

Pioneering plant-based alternatives provide healthy options in Nigeria

VeggieVictory co-founder Hakeem Jimo tells us more about his pioneering work to develop the first plant-based meat alternative in Nigeria to support healthier lifestyles.

The lab of tomorrow addresses lack of chronic disease prevention in Kenya

More than 40 per cent of all hospital deaths in Kenya are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes and cancer. Lisa Sophia Zoder describes how online Health Games, supported by the lab of tomorrow, raise awareness and knowledge on NCDs using an engaging format.