Nick Pearson has a great background for what he’s doing–business school, Path and then the Acumen Fund. He and his partners are pioneering a maternal health franchise system for East Africa, beginning in the slums of Nairobi. The want to create a sustainable and scalable operation to change the way antenatal and maternal health services are provided to women living in urban slum areas. The vision for Jacaranda includes mobile antenatal care outreach to build women’s trust in the health care providers and then well-run, low-cost services structured around strong referral systems (providing family planning, delivery care and PMTCT).
The team will begin with 1 clinic and 1 ANC van by the end of summer 2010 and wants to expand to 20-30 clinics at the end of five years. The first Jacaranda clinic will have 5-6 nurses/midwives and about 4 deliveries a day. Their approach has been to study the market in depth–finding access to low-cost, quality maternity care to be an enormous gap in urban Nairobi. Though plenty of well-trained health workers exist, the services are not organized to be accessible to the poor. The team has a vision of a highly organized set of services, checklists to ensure quality and consistency, strong training regimens, clinical algorithims to help with early identification of complications. Jacaranda is set up as a social enterprise in order to attract capital and make the concept sustainable.
When I spoke with Nick Pearson a few months ago he had not yet become a finalist in the Changemakers contest but was already fundraising to launch Jacaranda Health. As someone just advised me, new business models and structures for providing health care to women are just as important as the emphasis Maternova has on tools and techniques. We’ll continue to follow Jacaranda, LifeSpring and others to see how their paths unfold.