Meet the 2021 EWB Award recipient, Nonso Opurum, founder and CEO of SOSO CARE
Nigeria faces over $10 Billion deficit in healthcare financing leading to poor health outcomes. With pervasive poverty, poor healthcare financing access to quality healthcare is a great problem in Nigeria. Again, Nigeria generates over 30 million tonnes of waste yearly and about 20 billion pet plastics of which less than 5% is collected and recycled leading to environmental and ocean pollution.
SOSO CARE is a low cost health insurtech which aims to enable millions of people to access quality healthcare across over 1000 hospitals nationwide using cash or recyclables as premium.
As a financial solution working to improve the safety net of millions of people who could be vulnerable to poverty. Our mission is to ensure everyone have access to quality, affordable and accessible health care irrespective of their social economic status.
Nonso, a 34 year old Nigerian is a social entrepreneur who is obsessed with bridging the gap on health care financing in Africa. He witnessed little girls picking plastics in a dumpsite to redeem medical herbs, therefore is influenced to solve healthcare financing in developing countries where a significant number of the population live in desperate poverty.
Nonso holds a BA and MBA in business and strategic management. His career started as a banker. He had a quick stop at micro pension to gain more insight about serving the poor before starting SOSO CARE.
Nonso what is your background and what are the influences that brought you at this point?
Upon returning to Nigeria after studies, I noticed in a particular community that almost all poor homes had one or two graves in their compound. Poverty limits people pushing them into poor economic and health choices, the people are likely to die early. A greater part of these problems could be solved in a sustainable way through solutions designs with simple low and marginal cost to meet people’s financial strength
Could you tell us more about the business model, how does it work?
Soso care business model is subscription based. At SOSO CARE users use their recyclables to redeem a health insurance premium across over 1000 hospitals nationwide.
In summary, we use B2C, B2G Subscription models. Members access care by paying cash online or delivering recyclable materials like bottles, glass, plastic bags equivalent to premium monthly to our partner agents who sells the collected waste to big recycling companies as raw materials. The money generated from the sales is converted into a health fund to finance the premium in order to access healthcare.
For life insurance which provides cover against accident, death or critical illness just 2KG of plastics are required monthly and for inpatient and outpatient care valued at over $1000 just 17KG of any form of recyclable is required be it bottle, tin, metal, plastics etc even paper or cardboard.
Soso care targets over 65% of Nigeria’s 200 million population who live in the Informal sector. Basically millions of people who don’t have health insurance. These are people who rely on out of pocket health financing and self medication. These are people who believe that insurance and quality healthcare is an expensive luxury. This is also applicable to millions of people living in other African countries including south east Asia where they hope to scale in 2022. Currently we have 2700 people paying with recyclables with our recent partnership with a city council we hope to onboard additional 75,000 people by the end of 2022.
What are the obstacles SOSOCare is actually facing?
Currently SOSO CARE is facing financial challenges to enable it to scale, grow the team, create awareness, improve our recycling value chain and tracing technology.
Would you say that this business framework could be replicated elsewhere?
Yes SOSO CARE is scalable and replicable. We recently signed a franchise for a partnership in Uganda. We hope to scale to other countries in Africa including Asia, mostly Bangladesh where our work has been recognized by the government. Like Nigeria, Bangladesh with over 100 million people also faces8 catastrophic problems of waste management and healthcare financing.
What would you say is necessary in order to export this idea to other countries and make it work?
We need funding to improve our technology, improve our waste value chain process, agency system and to create awareness about what we do. To scale and replicate we look into countries that have huge problem with waste management and as well require urgent sustainable health care financing intervention