The collaborative effort between MCF and ZamZam Medical Services encapsulates the essence of how digital loans, entrepreneurship, and quality standards can be leveraged to enhance healthcare. This is critical in Kenya where private SMEs like ZamZam Medical Services are a key component of the healthcare system.
Nairobi; Tuesday, October 24, 2023: Zamzam Medical Services is a health facility located at the foot of the Ngong Hills, approximately 22 kilometers southwest of Nairobi. The facility was started 30 years ago in a single room, by NURSE AND MIDWIFE Esther Muthoni and her late husband, who saw an opportunity to establish the first private health facility in the area. Today, ZamZam
Medical Services offers a variety of healthcare services such as maternal health and family planning, laboratory services, physiotherapy, and dental care, serving around 13,000 lower-income patients annually.
However, the road ahead has not been without challenges, particularly due to the lack of access to credit. As a female entrepreneur, having to continue her journey alone, Mrs. Esther Muthoni faced hurdles in securing the necessary financing needed to grow and improve her business. She lacked the conventional collateral and security requirements demanded by banks. Esther says she almost closed the health facility had she not been introduced to the Medical Credit Fund (MCF), a not-for-profit fund exclusively dedicated to financing small, and medium-sized health enterprises (SMEs) in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2016 the Medical Credit Fund (part of PharmAccess) launched MCF Cash Advance, a digital loan product. The product allows for fast and flexible financing. Instead of requiring conventional collateral, the healthcare provider’s history of mobile money transactions is used as the basis for the loan. Many patients in Kenya are using mobile money to pay for healthcare services, providing them with financial protection. As mobile payments are received, a designated percentage automatically goes towards repaying the loan, allowing for flexibility in loan repayment in line with the actual income earned. The product is built on Kenya’s advanced mobile money infrastructure, M-Pesa, in partnership with M-TIBA, a digital connector in the health ecosystem enabling the automated repayments of the loan.
In addition to access to credit, health entrepreneurs are also provided with technical support and guidance to improve the quality of care through the SafeCare program. Esther is using digital loans to pay for salaries of staff and invest in equipment and pharmaceutical supplies, and she has invested in digital patient records, enhancing the availability and quality of services.
On Tuesday, October 24, Queen Máxima visited ZamZam Medical Services in her capacity as, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate (UNSGSA) for Inclusive Finance for Development, to experience how digital loans have enabled female health entrepreneurs like Esther to expand her clinic and drive access to quality care to her local community.
QUEEN MÁXIMA MENTIONED THAT the Medical Credit Fund really understands and addresses the needs of their clients. From new equipment to improving working capital, through MCF Cash Advance health facilities like ZamZam can provide better quality services to their patients and their families. For which there is a clear need.
The MCF Cash Advance loans not only helps healthcare providers but directly touches the lives of patients like Farida Rimanto Kimojino, Zipora Akinyi, and Lizzy Muthoni Kihara, all of whom spoke with Queen Máxima about their experiences at Zamzam Medical Services.
As a Special Advocate, Queen Máxima has been working around the world to promote universal access to financial services and financial health.
The collaborative effort between MCF supported by M-TIBA, SafeCare, and ZamZam Medical Services encapsulates the essence of how digital loans, entrepreneurship, and quality standards can be leveraged to enhance healthcare. This is critical in Kenya where SMEs like ZamZam Medical
Services are a key component of the healthcare system. About half of the population, including those in lower income groups, seek healthcare from private healthcare providers. By breaking
down financial barriers and fostering positive development outcomes, quality healthcare can be made accessible to all. As such the program is contributing to the Universal Health Coverage agenda of the Kenyan government.
PharmAccess challenges the notion that exclusion from essential healthcare is an inevitable consequence of living in low- and middle-income countries. Our integrated approach addresses both the demand and supply side of the healthcare system and uses the opportunities that mobile technology and data provide to leapfrog development in the health system. Digitalization, health data standardization, and connection – especially between patients and their healthcare providers – are central to what we do. Our innovative models harness the power of mobile technology and data standardization to put people at the center of their own healthcare journeys. For this purpose, PharmAccess works closely together with international technology partner M-Tiba.
PharmAccess advocates for data as a collective good. The Medical Credit Fund (access to finance), and SafeCare (clinical standards and certified quality stepwise improvement) are PharmAccess initiatives.
About the Medical Credit Fund (MCF)
The Medical Credit Fund (MCF) was established in 2009 as part of PharmAccess as the sole not-for-profit fund dedicated to financing health SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa. MCF is currently active in 6 countries (Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda) and has provided almost 10,000 loans totaling over EUR 175 million to more than 2000 clients. Its loan repayment rate is 97%.
In 2010, HM Queen Maxima visited a clinic in Tanzania that received one of the first Medical Credit Fund loans ever distributed. MCF currently provides two loan products: MCF Digital loans (Cash Advance) for short-term, fast, and flexible financing, and MCF Term loans for longer-term and large financial needs. MCF operates as a blended fund and works with a wide network of partners, providing loans and technical assistance to health SMEs for business expansion and quality improvement.
About M-TIBA (CAREPAY)
M-TIBA, CarePay’s technology brand in Kenya, is the leading health financing technology platform. The mobile platform connects individual members to healthcare payers and providers. By digitizing and automating the healthcare journey it creates efficiency, reduces costs, and unlocks valuable data insights to further improve the healthcare journey. By connecting everyone in the healthcare ecosystem, M-TIBA enables the smarter use of the available funding, offering more people access to affordable healthcare.
About ZamZam Medical Services
ZamZam Medical Services is located on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya and it is run by Mrs. Esther Muthoni Karaya, a 49-year-old trained registered nurse-midwife. ZamZam Medical Services offers various services, ranging from maternal health and family planning to physiotherapy, laboratory services, and dental care. Today, the facility has 18 permanent staff members and sees around 13,000 patients per year, mostly from lower-income groups. ZamZam has been an MCF customer since 2012. The clinic has used almost 40 digital loans, one after the other since the launch of MCF’s digital loan services with an average loan size of around EUR 10,000. Its credit limit has since grown by over 400%. The financing provided empowered the clinic to manage cash flow fluctuations, expand facilities like the addition of a maternity and a dental unit, purchase equipment, and enhance patient flow. It also supported staff expansion and retention and improved the quality of care for patients. Working with SafeCare quality standards, ZamZam increased the quality of services from level 1 to level 4 (scale of 1-5).