My Musawo app creator Deliah Nalukwago. PHOTO/COURTESY


The story behind My Musawo app

What you need to know:

  • Smartphone users who seek easy and timely access to healthcare services can now download My Musawo app from the IOS or Android app stores and sign up using an email address.
  • Currently, approximately 20 doctors and 100 patients are actively testing the app
  • Here's how gaps in the health sector sparked Deliah Nalukwago’s innovation. 

While Deliah Nalukwago Stöcker pursued her medical studies in China, she witnessed the remarkable transformation that technology had brought to people’s lives. When she returned to Uganda, in 2014, she was motivated to look for ways to contribute to the health sector using technology. Nalukwago tells us how the power of innovation inspired her to come up with the “My Musawo App”.

Tell us about the My Musawo App. What problem did you anticipate to solve? 
The inspiration behind creating the ‘My Musawo App’ stemmed from my experiences. I spent some time in China, pursuing a medical course. 
And during my time there, there was an app for virtually everything. I was shocked by the level of efficiency in service delivery. When I returned to Uganda for my clinical internship in 2014, my eyes were open to gaps and challenges in our medical industry, affecting both patients and healthcare providers.

And I started contemplating on some of the solutions.  That’s how My Musawo app was birthed, but I did not give it my full attention, until 2019, when I met with my technical co-founder, Louis Michael Musanje. 

Together, we co-founded Prio Medical Ltd, with the My Musawo app listed as our first software as a service under the company. 
It is a mobile application that connects Ugandans with healthcare providers and services. Over time, our product has undergone numerous iterations. It has been a journey of development and refinement, and in 2021, we got a beta version available on both iOS and android platforms. 

What is your target market?
Ugandan smartphone users, who seek easy and timely access to healthcare services. Currently, we are in the beta testing phase with approximately 20 doctors and 100 patients actively testing the app. While it is too early to quantify a significant impact, we anticipate that our platform will offer substantial benefits and allow users to seek health advice and receive instant feedback from certified health experts, all at no cost. We are excited about the potential positive impact our services will have as we continue to grow.

How does the app work?
The user downloads My Musawo app from the IOS or Android smartphone app stores, signs up using an email address. They are then required to make a health-related query and then receive expert advice. 

The app also enables users to engage with others in an online community, just like they would on any social media platform. There is a browser through which partner healthcare providers and users can book appointments instantly. 

There are many apps providing health services. What makes yours stand out?
Our focus is on creating a supportive community and facilitating interactions between patients and healthcare experts, free of charge. Our commitment is to offer a platform where medical practitioners can freely exchange health knowledge and expertise with their patients. 

What specific features does My Musawo App offer to ease access to quality healthcare information?
Our current Beta-Version of the My Musawo App offers two primary features: 

Ask a Musawo helps users to ask health-related questions and receive instant responses from certified health experts. Additionally, they can engage with peers who may have experienced similar health issues, fostering a supportive community.

The app also offers a directory that enables users to explore our partner clinics, hospitals, and wellness centres. They can conveniently book appointments directly through the app.

Are Ugandans subscribing to the app?

Since we launched the app, the community’s initial response has been positive. Some users say they find it refreshing and intuitive to use. While these early impressions are encouraging, we acknowledge that we have a long journey ahead before fully realising our vision for the app. We look forward to further feedback and are committed to continuous improvement to meet the needs of our users.

Healthcare in Uganda is expensive.  How does My Musawo App bridge such a gap?
Today, people spend much of their time on their mobile phones. And many a time, they have health questions.  We needed to find a convenient way to have people’s questions answered on the go.  My Musawo App strives to build a robust community of healthcare experts and patients through fostering free exchange of health and wellness knowledge and information. This app empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their health, ultimately making healthcare more accessible.

What challenges did you face while developing the app? Tell us how you overcame these. 
One of the key challenges in developing and launching the app was building the right team. Finding individuals who not only believed in our vision, but also highly skilled and committed for the long-term, especially when financial resources were limited, proved to be a formidable task.

I cannot claim that we have fully overcome this challenge, as my co-founder Louis and I are still actively searching for talented team members who align with our company culture. However, through a process of trial and error, we have gained clarity about our team’s needs and preferences, enabling us to make more informed decisions moving forward. This remains a dynamic challenge, but we are determined to address it in the best way.

Winning the grant of Shs10 million and an all-expense-paid trip to Nairobi through the Rising Woman Initiative must have been a great boost to your business. What was your experience from applying for the opportunity?

At the time, we had just completed our initial product iteration and needed funds to propel us to the next level. I was initially hesitant about applying for grants, as past experiences had left me disappointed because of poorly run programmes, elusive wins, and generic advice that rarely applied to software startups. 

Deliah Nalukwago (centre) won Shs10m during the 2022 edition of Rising Woman for her outstanding innovation in health. PHOTO/COURTESY

In our pursuit of financial support, I encountered numerous roadblocks when exploring loans from banks, with some even being outright disrespectful. 

However, as a last-ditch effort, I walked into the dfcu headquarters and was immediately introduced to the Rising Woman competition organised by their Women in Business office. I crafted my proposal and submitted it. A few weeks passed and to my delight, I received a call informing me that I had advanced to the final pitching phase. 

I presented my idea, was subjected to challenging questions from the judges, and left with mixed feelings. During a black-tie rooftop dinner organised by dfcu Bank, I was announced as overall winner in my category. Holding that cheque worth Shs10m on it was an indescribable moment.

The business trip to Nairobi was a journey filled with amazing encounters, inspiring individuals, and unforgettable memories. The Rising Woman Initiative not only provided essential financial support but also marked a turning point in our journey.

Rising Woman has significantly fuelled the growth and development of My Musawo App. During our time there, we engaged in valuable business skills workshops and networking opportunities. The Shs10m I received has kept our business running, enhanced the app’s design, and successfully completed our beta phase. 

What are your future plans?
In our upcoming release, which is currently undergoing internal testing, we will introduce paid features such as online consultations, home visits, and ambulance rescues. 

To stay updated on these new features, we encourage readers to download our app now and be among the first to access these valuable additions to our healthcare services. Both free and paid services ensure that individuals from various economic backgrounds can access the care they need, thus contributing to greater affordability in healthcare services.

Our ultimate goal is to expand to other African countries and enhance healthcare accessibility across the continent. Our commitment is to provide the highest quality healthcare services and positively impact lives in the regions we serve. As we continue to grow, we will be introducing even more features to enhance the app’s capabilities and provide more solutions.

How are you prepared to sustain your business?

Our strategy to sustain our business is to stay lean and continue talking to our users in order to understand their needs. 

Any advice or insights for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women, who are looking at making a positive impact in the healthcare sector through innovative solutions?

Embrace technology and collaboration. Celebrate your uniqueness, stay resilient and innovative. The world needs your commitment to creating positive change. Entrepreneurship is not the easy choice and many will discourage you. Rise above all that negativity.