Tafadzwa is a fifth-year medical student at the Cavendish University of Zambia who is also the cofounder and CEO of Dawa Health – a digital health platform that democratises access to healthcare for pregnant and nursing mothers. Tafadzwa founded Dawa Health with a small team of friends after witnessing his own cousin struggle to access good maternal health. He also discovered that of the 1.8 million mothers who give birth annually in Zambia and surrounding countries, more than 70% do not have access to quality maternal health. In Zambia, for instance, around 8 mothers die every day from non-critical complications that could be avoided, and Tafadzwa felt this was unacceptable.
Today, Dawa Health works with a network of community health workers who provide bi-monthly visits to mothers to monitor their condition. It is accessible via a mobile app (DawaMom), a web portal, and an AI-powered chatbot through WhatsApp, SMS, and Messenger. Since incorporation in March 2020, Dawa Health has supported over 4,000 mothers.
Tafadzwa started Dawa Health as a project in early 2017, creating the systems and software designs for a wireless wearable cardiology device. Since then, Dawa Health’s value has been recognized with a great deal of startup incubator help. In June 2017, Tafadzwa was accepted to the Africa Entrepreneurship Program – an incubator program that helps young Zimbabweans refine their business models and go-to-market strategy – and in September 2018, Dawa Health joined the BongoHive Launch Program, an acceleration program that helps startups form a clear growth plan.
As a result, Dawa Health has gone on to win a number of entrepreneurship competitions.
In 2019, it won the Best Newcomer startup in Zambia in the Southern Africa Startup Awards. In February 2020, Tafadzwa was selected as one of 13 startup leaders under the VC4A (Venture Capital for Africa) program to receive mentorship over three months. He was then selected as one of three innovators in Zambia to represent the country at the regional level, emerging as the overall winner of the Southern Africa Innovation Support Program’s BOOST UP competition. Tafadzwa has also achieved all this in the face of a difficult financial situation: being originally from Harare, Zimbabwe, the economic crisis there has significantly reduced the value of his funds, meaning it is much harder for Tafadzwa to pay his medical tuition fees and residential costs than before.
Tafadzwa’s dream is to complete his training in medicine and surgery, scale Dawa Health up, and empower millions of mothers in Zambia and Zimbabwe to receive good quality maternal health. If he wins the Global Student Prize, he will dedicate US$20,000 towards his tuition fees while he finishes his medical training. The remaining US$30,000 would be invested in the DawaMom project – to expand its network of community health agents (from 50 to 1000) and procuring 1,000 DawaMom pregnancy kits.