Maternova brings new solutions to old problems of midwifery, maternal mortality
The mission-driven, for-profit venture, Maternova, aims to use the data-dissemination powers of technology to reach maternity care workers most in need of resources in order to combat one of the leading causes of death for women globally, maternal mortality.
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What led you to identify the need for the services Maternova provides?
I’m not a clinician or an OBGYN but I looked around and no one was doing this. I lived in a maternity hospital in Borneo (Indonesia) for six months, because I was working on a Safe Motherhood project and that’s where they felt was the safest place for me to live. It’s a heavily Muslim area and a single woman living alone would be seen as very strange and dangerous. So that was quite an immersion experience. I have a degree in International Development and I’ve worked in global public health for the past 20 years. Recently I worked for a social venture capital fund, Commons Capital, looking at the role of innovation in global health.
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How do you distribute the product? How do you reach midwives and maternity hospitals?
We sell them through multiple distribution channels. One is directly to countries through organizations or governments. We also sell to groups in the U.S. or Canada that work overseas – we call those the globetrotting clinicians, the more everyday Paul Farmers of the world, and there are quite a few of them. And those are the people who are spreading skills, technologies, and new ideas. It’s a very common practice for people to stuff their bags with medical supplies so we’re formalizing that practice and bundling some key obstetric products together.
How much does a pak cost, and what about using the data map?
The ‘power pak’ is $20 – but if you buy in large volume the cost goes down.
The map service is a customized formula. It depends on where you are – if it’s a U.S. based group or in Sierra Leone, there’s a different price. It depends on how many indicators are being tracked, number of points on the map, number of users on the map. It’s a sliding scale, based on location.
Is it complicated to manage an international network of staff and clients?
[We have] about 30 people that work on contract one way or another, but they’re not employees.
My admin assistant is in the Philippines. It’s kind of neat. We use translators because often you’re getting somebody who’s from another country, located there, and it’s kind of empowering to have a truly global staff.
Interview has been edited and condensed.