On 15 November 2016, the UNICEF Innovation Fund announces its first portfolio of investments in open source technology solutions – mPower Social Enterprises Ltd is among the first five companies to receive investment.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund invests in technology start-ups from developing markets that are working on open source solutions to improve children’s lives. The Innovation Fund applies a venture capital approach to source solutions in  emergency and epidemic response, transport & delivery, identity, finance, learning, personal data and related fields.

Check out www.unicefinnovationfund.org for more information – including real-time data – on each investment.

mPower

mPower Social Enterprises Ltd : Improving Vaccination Rates in Bangladesh

By Mridul Chowdhury

How would you describe your solution to a child?

Vaccination workers often do not have easy access to records of children who need or have missed vaccinations. Sometimes, even the parents of these children forget or are unaware of when vaccinations are due. Not receiving vaccinations in time can result in  children getting sick and even dying from preventable diseases. mPower provides a platform that allows vaccination workers to easily remind parents about vaccination schedules.

Tell us about how your team came together.

The genesis of mPower happened when a group of graduate students from MIT and Harvard got together and participated in the MIT Business Plan competition in 2008. The competition prize money  gave rise to a company called ClickDiagnostics, which later transformed into mPower, establishing its headquarters in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The mPower team came together under the THRIVE consortium with World Health Organization Reproductive Health Research (RHR) stewarding a research partnership between academic institutes such as Johns Hopkins University and Harvard School of Public Health and technology companies, including Ona Systems, mPower, Interactive Health Solutions, Summit Institute to build and assess digital registry interventions leveraging the Open Smart Register Platform (OpenSRP).

How does your solution help accelerate results and improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children? How did you come up with your solution?

A Johns Hopkins University study showed that despite high coverage of essential vaccinations by the end of their first birthday, only 19% of children get vaccinated on time in Bangladesh. In three sites in Bangladesh, we have demonstrated the success of our solution with a five-fold increase in timely vaccination and 30% increase in coverage.

The concept of the solution was originally developed by the Johns Hopkins University’s mHealth Global Initiative under the name  mTika and implemented in the field by mPower.

How will the investment from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund help you?

The investment from UNICEF will help us in the following ways: (i) broaden the implementation of mPower to more diverse sites – achieving this will support us in increasing government support for scaling up and embedding our solution within government processes; (ii) help enhance the solution by  improving features and integrations with other systems such as RapidPro; (iii) create  global partnerships that can help us  address the low vaccination coverage rates of children around the world – both from the supply and demand side.


Looking for seed funding for your open source tech startup? Check out www.unicefinnovationfund.org to find out more about the process and to make a submission by 1 Jan 2017.

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