Portfolio News

Rah-e-maa Graduates From Seed Stage Funding

Apr 11 , 2018
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UNICEF Innovation Fund is proud to see portfolio member, Rah-e-maa — graduate. They’ve come a long way – from numerous product iterations, to deep diving into understanding their ecosystem better, strengthening their business model, and gearing up on taking their solution to market. They’re now at a stage to collaborate at a larger scale – as they find new pathways to collaborate with partners, investors, and the open source community.

Reflections from the team

Marking our graduation with the UNICEF Innovation Fund, we’ve managed to amass close to 22,000 users — addressing a wide range of questions around maternal health. In many cases, these same callers would return with more questions due to the answers they received from our doctors.

Super Abbu is Rah-e-maa’s fourth IVR iteration, but the first on maternal health. Before we deployed Super Abbu, we used three prior IVR hotlines to test strategies on outreach and retention of callers, and as such, we were able to amass the greatest number of callers through Super Abbu.

We’ve built a hotline called Super Abbu (Super Dad), a hotline for low literate fathers in Pakistan that gives them access to information regarding pregnancy and delivery.

Looking Back

How it started — in Pakistan, families of expecting fathers who do not have access to healthcare information are the primary subjects of infant, maternal, and under-five mortality. With the existing environment — if men have basic maternal health literacy, they are more inclined to support their wives in accessing timely, appropriate healthcare during pregnancy and delivery. Women require this support because they lack decision-making autonomy, rendering them unable to act upon any information they may receive.

The role of the father during this time period is generally limited to providing transportation and financial support, and that is not enough. Fathers are often the decision-makers regarding healthcare and without proper knowledge, can unknowingly make choices that are harmful to both mother and child. We see the role that fathers and soon-to-be-fathers can take during a women’s pregnancy — if they are aware of life-saving maternal health information. But there is a gap – and we’re here to address this.

We’ve built a hotline called Super Abbu (Super Dad), a hotline for low literate fathers in Pakistan that gives them access to information regarding pregnancy and delivery. When fathers call our hotline, a personality named Dr. Saba will answer and teach them how to care for their wives during pregnancy and the delivery. Dr. Saba informs fathers about instances such as the nutritional requirements of pregnant women to ensure a safe and healthy baby, the possible costs the family might incur during delivery, and that women are usually very emotional during this time. Callers can also listen to other fathers share stories about when their babies were born so they can learn from those experiences. The service is accessible over any type of phone and requires low (almost no) literacy or technical skills.

Key Insights

Fostering key implementing partners. Identifying and partnering with key partners was essential for us to be able to roll out our solution in Pakistan. We partnered with local hospitals — having 10 gynecologists, pediatricians, and general practitioners from these hospitals each answer up to 100 questions/week. We also worked with the provincial government, for Super Abbu to be added to the main options menu of government-run health lines; providing us with airtime and hosting coverage.

Testing various advertising strategies. As a result, our most successful advertising mechanism was sending automated phone calls (robocalls) to government-project beneficiaries. We amassed over 8,000 users in 50 days. By doubling our capacity to make phone calls (on the server side), we could reach nearly 60,000 users in another 6 months through robocalls alone. To find out more detailed outcomes, please visit our dashboard.

Creating pathways to sustainability. We’ve identified a few key aspects to help take this solution to scale and increase the viability of the platform to market. Through securing implementing partnerships and ensuring government buy-in, as well as selling ad space on the hotline to companies selling health-related products.

Way Forward

We are aiming to create a mobile app version of our service that caters to a slightly more affluent audience but meets the same demand; the app will generate revenue from ads. This year, we are expecting to have 100,000 hotline users and half as many mobile application users.  


Photo Credits | Top & In Article: © Rah-e-Maa 

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