Waiswa: Bringing medical supplies to your doorstep

Thursday January 24 2019

At the click of a mouse, medical personnel can

At the click of a mouse, medical personnel can order lab coats, identity bracelets for children and thermometres among other medical equipment. PHOTOS BY RACHEL MABALA 

By Beatrice Nakibuuka

With the advent of Medical Street, an online marketing platform that specifically delivers medical supplies, medical practitioners no longer have to leave their workstations to search for equipment, even in emergencies. All one needs is to subscribe to this platform, order, and within hours the equipment is delivered right where it is needed.
This potentially life-saving innovation, birthed in 2017, is a brainchild of Faisal Waiswa, a biomedical entrepreneur with a passion to marry technology with medicine.
He is particularly excited by the fact he can avail medical supplies to medical personnel that are too busy to procure the equipment they need. He sees the internet as a limitless market place that saves medics the time they would take hunting for the (genuine) equipment, especially in an economy littered with fake products.
After graduating in Biomedical Engineering from Makerere University College of Health Sciences in 2016, Waiswa volunteered with the Ministry of Health for a year.
While there, he noticed a problem in the flow of information and he developed Mobile & eHealth digital technology.
This experience helped him identify the gap, especially in terms of securing equipment for the medical personnel.
“I saw a need as many doctors needed equipment but were too busy to procure it,” Waiswa says. He saw a great opportunity and although he did not have capital, he would earn from commission.

Developing the idea
Before graduating in 2016, Waiswa had worked on a number of innovative projects, winning awards in some, which prompted him to think even deeper. While at the ministry of Health, he also worked with Spouts of water (Purifaaya), a social venture that uses ceramic water filters to provide clean and safe water to rural families in Uganda.
There, he developed a passion for entrepreneurship and realised that many medical personnel struggled to get medical supplies on time.
“Since I had already established contacts from the ministry and many other people who I thought would need machines, I contacted them just to see if they would be interested,” Waiswa says.
“People liked my idea but I did not have the products and lacked the capital to purchase everything the clients needed. I then got in touch with Morti Diagnostics, an Indian supplier and I offered to sell for him some of the equipment while he pays me on commission.”
But this had issues. Clients he once connected to particular stores eliminated him from the supply chain by going to those stores directly, denying him business. He thought deeper, coming up with Medical Street, a smarter solution.

How to use it
To access Medical Street, visit Google, type Medical Street, register with your email address or phone contact, create an account and sign up for the service. The interface also displays the commodities and the different categories they offer plus their specifics. For example, under laboratory supplies, a CX22 LED Research Microscope costs Shs5.2m while a 500ml glass measuring cylinder costs Shs20,000, among others. After entering your contact details, a login window is displayed.
To order, you click on the item of your choice. There is a billing address depending on the quantity you need. If you are in Uganda, select “local delivery” then click “Finish order.”
The sales team then receives an instant notification on both phone and email address on the kind of order that has been sent. With the contact that is used to Log On, they then confirm with the client the specifications, brand of the items, and where they want them delivered.
Deliveries can be made to all kinds of clients including companies, hospitals, clinics and individuals and those around Kampala are usually free of charge but those further than Kampala that are dependent of the location. Urgency is paramount. Equipment can be delivered in two hours or four days, depending on the client’s needs and the availability of the particular equipment. The mode of payment is usually cash on delivery but some clients opt for bank transfer or mobile money.
With Medical Street, one can get products such as lab equipment, reagents, mama kits, diagnostic kits, consumables, moving aids and the prices vary with the brand.
“I am able to identify fake products from genuine ones because I am trained in the field. We create product awareness to the clients so we give the client different options depending on the brands and we advise them on those we think are better and more durable.”
Guarantee is given depending on the brand. “When a client chooses a brand that I have warned him against, whose quality is not good, I do not offer them a guarantee.”

Finding market is the dream of every entrepreneur. Waiswa found one but there are more challenges. “There was a time I lost a deal worth Shs78m because I was not registered.”
So in August 2017, he did the paperwork, consulted a lawyer and now has a certificate of incorporation.
The bigger challenges have been inadequate capital, operating space and human resource. But for now, he has a resource team of four people who are also shareholders in the project and they have agreed to reinvest the proceeds into the business for a fatter reward in the future.

Future prospects
“I want to be the biggest online medical supplier in Uganda and East Africa in the next five years since most of all the online markets do not deal in medical supplies.”
Waiswa also plans to increase the product base and hire a pharmacist and medical doctor who can do prescriptions after diagnosis because some people do not want to wait in the long hospital queues. “However, for now I want people to first get used to the products available.”