Working with social entrepreneurs in Senegal

Team members of ‘Sama Bajene’, a new mobile Application that provides teleconsultation services for pregnant women in Dakar.
Photo Credit: Awa Ndiaye

It has been a good, productive first week working with the three Senegalese social entrepreneurs I am placed with: Mbathio Dieng, Ousmane Ly and Awa Ndiaye. These are the respective pilots they are implementing:

Keur Yaye (Links to an external site.)

Sunu Jigeen (Links to an external site.)

Sama Bajene (Links to an external site.)

This week we have discussed the metrics they are each tracking, progress to date, lessons learned and challenges in gathering data. We have discussed all this in the course of very lively zoom calls!

Here are some high-level take-aways of my conversations with them:

-Although our joint goal this week was to delve into metrics, a lot of the conversations have gravitated towards other important matters, such as the challenges of leadership and managing a young team, the new Omicron wave, etc. Even though I was keen to bring the focus back to discussions of impact, these were very important and relevant conversations.

-It has been important to constantly double-check our respective understanding of different terms we use when talking about metrics. Each social entrepreneur uses a different set of tools and approaches to monitoring and measuring impact, so it has been important to regularly confirm we are understanding the same thing when we use a given term. Activities, inputs, outputs, outcomes, impact, KPIs, are understood slightly differently by each stakeholder.

-I did find that it is a bit of a challenge to keep bringing the focus back to specific KPIs, and I sense that a culture of accountability probably takes some time to develop and interiorize. It is not that there is a lack of activity, work, and actions happening, but the discipline to continue to come back to concrete indicators of performance and measure progress against them takes practice.

-One of the great developments I am witnessing this week is the collaboration between two of the social entrepreneurs (and their respective teams), Corpus and Njureel. They have honed in on the complementarity of their respective organizations (medical, IT) and have a genuine desire to work together around their joint goals of bringing affordable quality care to pregnant women, even if they seem aware that such partnerships may not be easy and will take concerted effort. This is very exciting!

– Something that I am also pleased about is that a couple of the social entrepreneurs had considered developing m-health Apps from scratch but they will now be using existing tools. We were very lucky that we came across a mapping of mhealth applications specific to maternal health in Senegal that the Sanofi Foundation and AMREF have developed. One of them, which had been piloted but not picked up subsequently for use by any organization, is a perfect fit for Agora: Cellal e Kissal (Links to an external site.). It allows for key data gathering on pregnant women, as well as prompts for the health worker. It is easy to use and the aggregate data can be easily downloaded. Also Corpus will now be relying on Njureel’s existing teleconsultation App and call center instead of developing its own. It feels rewarding to discover and take advantage of existing resources instead of reinventing the wheel. This especially the case with m-health, a field that is saturated but where quite often Apps don’t seem to make it much further than the testing stages.

Looking forward to continuing to work next week with these innovative and entrepreneurial partners!

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