Dr Nonhlanhla Sitole, cofounder of Zoie Health
We chat with Dr Nonhlanhla Sitole, cofounder of Zoie Health, to find out more.
The idea for the platform was inspired by our personal and professional experience. In Thato Schermer’s (cofounder) case, it was a visit to the obstetrician-gynecologist for a contraceptive consult and script that made her realise how expensive and time-consuming it was for women to access basic healthcare services.
For me, the birth of my child came with a period of mild post-partum depression which led me to realise just how misunderstood and taboo this condition remains – and how a sense of community for women experiencing it is sorely needed.
In late 2020, we took a decision to pool our knowledge, with Thato drawing on her years of experience in business development, technology and strategy across several of South Africa’s major healthcare companies and technology companies, and me applying the insights I obtained while studying towards a PhD in genetics and molecular biology, with a special focus on cervical cancer; and as a postdoctoral fellow researching HPV vaccines in South Africa.
Our research (which comprised of in-depth interviews with women at different stages of their lives) led us to realise that:
We officially launched in August 2021.
Zoie is a digital health platform with the aim is to make women's and family health and wellness in Africa more convenient, affordable and caring with a focus on family planning, fertility and maternity care. We currently offer virtual care services and subscriptions as well as a community forum where women can connect and engage.
Our goal is to make the entire process seamless, from finding a provider to getting your meds delivered to your home. By making everything tech-based, we are able to simplify, integrate and streamline access to healthcare services.
We provide the following services:
We have struggled with raising awareness and ensuring more women hear about this service.
Yes, we have received some funding from investors who believe in what we are doing. They share our vision, are passionate about helping us solve this need and support us with technical expertise.
It's important to build something you believe will solve a serious pain point for your customers. Understand your customers and constantly stay engaged with them so you understand their needs and wants. Surround yourself with a strong team and advisors. And believe in yourself because it's a long tough road, worth all the effort but when you reach obstacles, you’re the one who has to keep yourself motivated. Also, work smart and keep a healthy work/life balance.
We would love to see Zoie in the palm of every woman’s hand, where we are the number one solution for a woman’s health and wellness needs, no matter her health season. We have many exciting products we aim to launch, including expansion into other regions in Africa, to make access to healthcare more easy and affordable for women on the African continent.