Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Maziwa Breast Pump

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One-line solution summary:

The only breast pump designed specifically for working mothers in developing markets.

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Pitch your solution.

In developing markets, new mothers are faced with the tradeoff between returning to work to support their families and staying at home to breastfeed. Maziwa believes that women should not have to make this difficult choice.

The Maziwa breast pump gives mothers a safe, discreet, convenient and affordable way to express breastmilk in any workplace. Combined with lactation education from expert professionals, resources for navigating employer conversations, accessible distribution, and flexible payment plans, Maziwa ensures that every mother can choose to start working without giving up on breastfeeding. 

Globally, optimal breastfeeding has the potential to prevent nearly 600,000 childhood deaths and nearly 100,000 maternal deaths annually, in addition to hundreds of millions of avoidable cases of diarrhoea and pneumonia in children under two, and almost a million cases of childhood obesity. (Walters, Phan, Roger Mathisen)

With Maziwa, nourishing the world's future no longer means compromising your economic future.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Children who are breastfed exclusively for 6 months are 14 times less likely to die than those who are not. Despite billions spent on breastfeeding campaigns, only 43% of mothers around the world optimally breastfeed. (UNICEF)

In Kenya, one million mothers give birth annually and over half return to work. 81% of working mothers opt to wean early and resort to breastmilk substitutes, such as animal milk, soft foods, or formula. (Chege, Ndungu)    

Policies mandating lactation rooms at workplaces are not well-enforced, especially in the informal sector where many mothers work. So, while breast pumps are available, Kenyan mothers face several challenges expressing breastmilk at work:

  • Privacy: Women prefer not to be exposed while pumping but cannot find private spaces. 

  • Power: Most electric pumps require a constant power supply but reliable electrical sockets aren’t easily accessible. 

  • Refrigeration: Breastmilk requires refrigerated storage which is rare at the workplace.

  • Education: Mothers lack access to lactation support and advice on breastmilk expression. 

  • Cost: Effective, high-quality pumps are cost-prohibitive.

Consequently, only 7% of Kenyan mothers use breast pumps (Chege, Ndungu), compared to ~75% in the US (Labiner-Wolfe, Fein, Shealy, Wang). This important social problem also presents a compelling economic opportunity. 

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What is your solution?

Our extensive analysis of the barriers to breastfeeding, maternal employment policies, and existing technologies has helped us develop a breast pump which supports working mothers in emerging markets with breastfeeding exclusively. Maziwa’s discreet, efficient, and portable design allows mothers to express breastmilk in any workplace. 

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Discreet: Maziwa fits underneath clothing, allowing mothers to pump without being exposed, in lieu of a dedicated lactation space.

Wireless & Efficient: Maziwa’s battery-powered suction with USB charging allows mothers to express breastmilk efficiently and wirelessly throughout the workday.

Portable Cooler: Maziwa’s portable cooler means mothers can transport breastmilk safely, whether they are in traffic or doing fieldwork. 

Value for Money: Maziwa was designed with value in mind, coming in at a fraction of the cost of formula. Mothers can opt to pay in instalments, or rent the pump through employers or clinics. 

Lactation Education: We are training a network of Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors (CBAs) to support women with breastmilk expression, through education sessions and personalized consultations.  

Supportive Environment: Our Facebook and Whatsapp social communities provide moral support and education. We also equip women with instructions for their caretakers and resources for difficult conversations with their employers in order to build a robust support community.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our solution serves millions of low- and middle- income mothers in developing markets who are forced to choose between breastfeeding exclusively and returning to work. 

Since June 2018, we have been designing our solution based on the expressed needs of working mothers in Kenya. We heard from over 700 women that existing breast pumps aren't suitable for workplaces without private lactation rooms, reliable power, and refrigeration and that recent public policies have not made a significant impact. Partnering with Jacaranda Health, we held postnatal care sessions at public hospitals and sent digital surveys to working mothers. With Dalberg Research, we co-created our pump with working mothers through user-centred research, where they each designed their ideal breast pump. Finally, we shadowed mothers from various workplaces for one month while they tested different pumps. 

During our research, 86% of mothers were interested in our product. Every mother in the shadowing study indicated that she would purchase and recommend this type of product, and one mother shared testimonial below: 

Isabell


Through these efforts, we learned that a discreet, battery-powered breast pump with milk storage can support mothers with expressing breastmilk at work, allowing them to sustain optimal breastfeeding without dropping out of the workforce.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Expand access to high-quality, affordable care for women, new mothers, and newborns

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Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.

Optimal breastfeeding is an essential part of maternal and newborn care as it reduces infant mortality, lowers the likelihood of malnutrition, stunting, and SIDS, and improves cognitive development for children. Breastfeeding mothers benefit from reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and diabetes. 

Maziwa is an affordable, high-quality breast pump that lowers the barriers for working mothers to breastfeed exclusively. We also fortify the healthcare workforce by training Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors.

This simple intervention will make an exponential difference in a mother’s ability to prevent her infant from fatal illnesses, protect her own health, and sustain her family’s economic well-being.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Nairobi, Kenya
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model

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Who is the primary delegate for your solution?

Founder & CEO - Sahar Jamal

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More About Your Solution

If you have additional video content that explains your solution, provide a YouTube or Vimeo link here:

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

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Describe what makes your solution innovative.

Maziwa’s innovative design allows working mothers to express breastmilk in any workplace. Existing breast pumps designed by global manufacturers require a private lactation room, reliable electricity, and refrigeration, whereas Maziwa seamlessly integrates into a Kenyan mother’s work environment and breastfeeding routine.

Manual pumps: While more affordable, manual pumps like Phillips can take almost two times longer than electric pumps for each session. Maziwa is battery-operated and rechargeable so women experience shorter disruptions during their workday. 

Electric pumps: Pumps like Madela cost up to $300USD, often rely on electrical outlets, and require mothers to disrobe while pumping. Maziwa’s battery-operated and rechargeable solution is designed for workplaces without accessible power supply and its discreet design can be used underneath clothing to ensure privacy.

Wearable pumps: In the US and UK, small brands such as Willow and Elvie have launched discreet, battery-powered, wearable breast pumps; however, these target much higher income consumers and retail at around $500USD.

Milk storage: Breastmilk coolers are not common in Kenya. Those that are available only stay cool for a few hours and require ice packs, posing a challenge for mothers without freezers. We are designing a breastmilk cooler without ice packs that stores milk for the entire workday.

Baby formula or other substitutes: Formula costs roughly ~$250USD over six months, 36% of a middle-income family’s disposable income. Other milk and soft foods are not sufficient nutritional replacements. 

Finally, Maziwa focuses on last-mile distribution, lactation education, and maternal employment support in order to differentiate itself from these competitors. 

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

This discreet, battery-powered breast pump with portable milk storage is a unique application of existing technologies, designed based on the expressed needs of working Kenyan mothers. We have improved upon existing breast pump technology, which for decades has been widely used outside of clinical settings in developed markets. 

Now that these products have launched in emerging markets, there is an opportunity for an innovative breast pump to ‘leapfrog’ older, less-user friendly models. Just as Kenyans started using mobile phones instead of landlines and were early adopters of mobile payment technology, they can embrace this novel breastfeeding solution since incumbent brands have not made significant traction. 

Although some new entrants have designed similar technology, these ‘wearable’ breast pumps are targeted to an affluent demographic in developed markets. Maziwa, on the other hand, is the only breast pump tailored to women in emerging markets, since it has been co-created through user-centered design sessions and observational research. In addition to improving breast pump technology, we are designing a portable, battery-powered milk storage cooler that keeps milk fresh during the workday.

Additionally, we have developed a new distribution and community engagement model. Unlike global manufacturers that focus on retailers and pharmacies in big cities, Maziwa will prioritize last-mile distribution and sell its products through Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors (CBAs) at maternity clinics, employers, and childcare centers, where women can even rent the pump or pay in monthly instalments. Moreover, our CBAs will also provide breastfeeding support within these networks through lactation consultations and education sessions. 

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Provide evidence that this technology works.

Breast pumps are widely used in developed markets such as the US, where most mothers have expressed milk with a pump. Since breast pumps are Class 2 Medical Devices within the FDA and undergo rigorous regulatory approval processes, this technology is proven to be safe and effective.

The popularization of non-hospital grade pumps in the US in the early 2000s coincided with a significant increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6 months, from 11% in 2004 to 25% in 2018 (CDC). While there are several factors associated with breastfeeding practices and it is difficult to prove a causal link between breast pump usage and breastfeeding rates, our hypothesis is that increasing breast pump usage in markets like Kenya, from 7% of mothers to 75%, could result in significantly higher exclusive breastfeeding compliance. Our shadowing research with a group of working mothers for one month demonstrated that a discreet, wireless breast pump with milk storage increases breastmilk expression frequency, reduces or eliminates breastmilk substitute feedings, and improves exclusive breastfeeding rates, compared to using a more basic breast pump or not using a pump.  

The Maziwa breast pump has started the process of FDA 510k clearance as a Class 2 medical device, as well as CE mark approval, and will undergo regulatory approval with the Kenya Pharmacy & Poisons Board to ensure it is thoroughly vetted for safety and efficacy. Our battery-powered cooler is earlier in the development process and we are still testing prototypes to find an effective, affordable solution.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Manufacturing Technology
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What is your theory of change?

Our theory of change is that improved breast pump technology and support systems for mothers will alleviate the trade-off between breastfeeding and working, allowing them to continue breastfeeding exclusively for the recommended period. 

Inputs & Activities: We manufacture, distribute and sell breast pumps designed for working women in developing markets. We combine this with lactation education, employer support, community engagement, and public health advocacy. 

Outputs: New mothers purchase breast pumps and return to work after receiving lactation support and resources for employer conversations. 

Outcomes: Working mothers use the pump regularly and do not turn to breastmilk substitutes for 6 months. More new mothers are able to return to work and more working mothers are breastfeeding optimally. 

Impact: In the long term, optimal breastfeeding among working mothers improves maternal and newborn health and reduces mortality rates, and post-partum female workforce participation increases.

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There is undisputed evidence through several studies that optimal breastfeeding results in improved maternal and newborn health. (WHO)

That said, we believe the key to assessing Maziwa's impact on maternal and newborn health is tracking pump usage and breastmilk expression frequency. While ‘outputs’ like unit sales could be an indicator of product uptake and consumer interest, many women who purchase pumps eventually give up on using them. To test our theory of change, we must determine whether ‘output’ measures like market reach and sales translate to ‘outcome’ metrics like increased rates of exclusive breastfeeding and decreased workforce dropout. 

Within our field research, working women who tried a discreet, battery-powered breast pump with milk storage were able to increase their breastmilk expression frequency and reduce their reliance on breastmilk substitutes, compared to using a standard breast pump or not using a pump. Going forward, our monitoring and evaluation strategy will measure the number of pumps sold and consequently, women and children reached. Basic connectivity on the device will monitor daily usage and the frequency of pumping sessions, and social media channels will collect qualitative user feedback. Achieving our 'output' and 'outcome' targets will allow us to infer Maziwa’s overall impact on maternal and newborn health and female workforce participation.

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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Pregnant Women
  • Infants
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-Being
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Kenya
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Kenya
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Currently, Maziwa meaningfully impacts 1,400 mothers and newborns and engages another 7,277 women via SMS and social media.

Although we haven’t launched our product, we include breastfeeding education and lactation support for women in our research studies which have impacted ~700 mothers and their newborns (700 x 2 = 1,400).

Our SMS surveys, paired with breastfeeding information, reached ~30,000 and engaged 550 women (1.8%). Our Facebook campaigns reached ~78,000 and engaged 6,727 women (8.6%), including 85 women who signed up to receive follow-up calls and 6,265 who engaged with our 'Breastfeeding during COVID-19' campaign. 

 

In 2021, we will impact another 7,000 mothers and newborns and engage another 11,000 women.

We will sell ~2,500 breast pumps within the first year of launch, and our research efforts and education sessions will impact 1,000 women, improving the lives of 7,000 mothers and newborns (3,500 x 2 = 7,000).

Our SMS activity will reach 50,000 and engage 1,000 women (2%) and our Facebook activity will reach 100,000 and engage 10,000 women (10%). 

 

By 2025, we will impact 70,000 mothers and newborns annually in Kenya, and 70,000 annually in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Malawi. We will engage another 250,000 women across East Africa. 

In Kenya, we will sell 30,000 pumps annually and will hold education sessions for 5,000 women, impacting 70,000 mothers and newborns every year. Initially, the four new East African markets combined will be the same size as Kenya. Additionally, we will engage 50,000 women through SMS and 200,000 through Facebook.

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What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

In the next year, we will launch our breast pump in Kenya by raising the remainder of our seed funds, achieving regulatory approval, finalizing our manufacturing contract, recruiting a full-time team, and solidifying our local supply chain partnerships. By the end of 2020, we will achieve tax-exempt status in the US and Canada to support our fundraising efforts, gain FDA 510k approval in order to apply for Kenyan PBB approval, finalize our manufacturing contract, and produce our initial product order quantity. In 2021, we will hire a community engagement and sales team, conduct pricing and distribution tests to validate our sales strategy, and finalize partnership contracts with last-mile distributors and retailers. 

In the next five years, our goal is to increase the penetration rate for breast pumps among Kenyan mothers, and in turn, improve rates of exclusive breastfeeding and female workforce participation. While we are launching in Kenya, we have potential to scale across the continent, where similar challenges exist. Specifically, we have already started scoping the market potential for Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi.  

Through this effort, we will meaningfully impact over 90,000 East African mothers and newborns within the first 4 years of launch and 140,000 lives annually in 2025, in addition to indirectly engaging millions of women through our digital educational content. In the long-term, we hope to drive systemic change in these countries, influencing maternal employment laws, reinforcing distribution channels for medical devices in low-resource settings, and encouraging further innovation tailored to consumers in developing markets.

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What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

Regulatory

The Maziwa breast pump has started the process of FDA 510k clearance as a Class 2 medical device. In order to launch in Kenya, we will need the Kenya Pharmacy & Poisons Board approval. As we scale into new geographies, we may encounter diverse regulatory landscapes which require additional approvals and certifications. These processes may be lengthy and could present a barrier to market entry. 

 

Political 

While Kenyan policymakers support breastfeeding promotion and public health investment, a change in government priorities could shift the landscape. Additionally, engagement with public officials in this region comes with the risk of corruption, bribery, or preferential treatment, which may pose challenges during the market entry and commercialization process as we aim to ensure our applications and permits are reviewed.  

 

Operational 

As with any distribution across Africa, we may encounter challenges due to the unreliable healthcare and medical device supply chain, diverse geography, and poor road and transport conditions. 

 

Financial 

While our breast pump will priced be significantly cheaper than baby formula and other high-end electric pumps with the goal of providing great value, lower-income Kenyan mothers may still not be able to afford the upfront cost of purchasing it. 

 

COVID-19 (Short Term)

The global pandemic has impacted Maziwa in several ways. The travel ban and international quarantines have paused our in-market research and community engagement efforts, as well as any potential in-person meetings with our manufacturer. Additionally, our fundraising timeline has been extended, as funders, understandably, shift priorities towards COVID-19 response.

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How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

Regulatory

We have started to build relationships with governmental bodies and are looking to hire a well-connected, ethical Kenyan consultant to support us with the regulatory process. We will continue to work with local experts to ensure we fully understand the regulatory environment in every market. 

 

Political 

We will work with our local distributors to navigate the commercialization process in each country. These companies are accustomed to partnering with global clients and making inroads to facilitate market entry. We will seek recommendations from advisors to find distribution partners that are credible and trustworthy.

 

Operational 

As many companies face similar challenges with distribution in Africa, Maziwa is building relationships with relevant players in the sector and experts in the supply chain to mitigate these risks through industry groups and collective scale.

 

Financial

Maziwa will offer monthly payment plans and a rental option for mothers who cannot pay upfront. Additionally, Maziwa will work with companies to provide discounted or shared pumps as an employee benefit. Finally, partnerships with philanthropic foundations and donors will allow us to subsidize the cost for low-income mothers.

 

COVID-19 (Short Term)

We have adapted to the recent situation by shifting priorities from in-market research to product development and fundraising. In response to the pandemic, Maziwa launched a social media campaign about breastfeeding safely during COVID-19 based on WHO’s guidelines, which reached nearly 60,000 women. We are also analyzing longer-term implications, including the emergence of remote work and telehealth platforms which could open up new opportunities for Maziwa.

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

Full time: 1

Part-time: 1

Contractors: 4

Board Members: 3

Advisors/Volunteers: 8

Sahar, our founder, is working on this business full-time. We have a small, scrappy team including a Technical Lead, a technical advisor, a lactation consultant, and two research assistants. We also have a team of volunteers and a strong network of advisors and mentors to support our global medical device commercialization process. On an as-needed basis, we have hired regulatory advisors, a research agency, lawyers, a grant writer, a healthcare talent recruitment firm, and a supply chain consultant. We will continue building our team to support our growth.

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How many years have you worked on your solution?

~1 year full-time (~2 years including part-time)

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Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Our team brings a combination of deep knowledge in maternal and newborn health, and multidisciplinary expertise in global health, engineering, business management, product innovation, sales and marketing.

Sahar Jamal, Maziwa’s Founder and CEO, has a decade of experience in consumer healthcare and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. Her early career focused on developing healthcare solutions and award-winning marketing campaigns for organizations like Johnson & Johnson in Canada and the UK. Whilst working at Jacaranda Health, she learned about the life-saving powers of breastmilk and the challenges working mothers face with breastfeeding, which led her to create Maziwa. 

Tyler Panian, Maziwa’s Technical Lead, is an R&D Engineering professional with over 10 years of experience working in the Medical Device industry. He was the Director of Mechanical Engineering at Endotronix. He brought their product through the design, feasibility, and verification phases. Most recently he was their Director of R&D, leading 15+ employees. Tyler has an MS from USC. 

Josephine Karoki, Maziwa’s lactation consultant, is also the founder of HunySuckle Kenya Ltd. After a difficult time breastfeeding her first baby, she saw a hole in the market to provide women with lactation support, something many obstetricians couldn’t offer. 

Kara Palamountain, a Maziwa Board Member, is the Co-Principal Investigator of a $68M grant, NEST360°, which aims to reduce the neonatal mortality rate. She is the President of the Northwestern Global Health Foundation. She has her MBA from Kellogg. 

Our team members and advisors are listed here.

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What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

Product Research 

We partnered with Dalberg Research and Jacaranda Health to facilitate human-centred design sessions and shadowing research with working and breastfeeding women. 

 

Education and Marketing 

We have hired lactation consultants from the Kenya Breastfeeding Association to deliver our education sessions and for our Community Breastfeeding Ambassador program. We are in conversation with thought leaders such as Aga Khan University Hospital on developing future curriculum.

 

Sourcing and Manufacturing

We have selected a manufacturer in China that meets our quality and safety specifications. We are working with a supply chain consultant to develop a manufacturing contract and a regulatory advisor to understand the approval pathway.

 

Community Engagement

We have relationships with companies, including NGOs, telecoms, and farms, which have large employee or client bases of women and are driven to provide comprehensive lactation support. For our initial launch, we have a pipeline of 9 maternity clinics, like Jacaranda Maternity, through which we can sell products and conduct educational sessions. We are initiating relationships with women’s groups and childcare centers, like Kidogo, to raise awareness among working mothers. 


Distribution

We have relationships with senior leaders at distributors such as Goodlife Pharmacy, VIA Global Health, and Pyramid, to support our long-term goal of scaling through large distribution networks. 

Beyond these partnerships, Maziwa is also a member of Trust Law, a facilitator pro-bono legal services. Maziwa’s advisors come from powerful backgrounds, like CHAI, Gradian Health Systems, One Acre Fund, and Johnson & Johnson, and provide feedback on our product development, sourcing, and distribution strategy. 

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

For low and middle- income working mothers who strive to balance breastfeeding and working, Maziwa is a discreet, wireless breast pump with portable milk storage which allows them to express breastmilk in any work environment. In addition to our product, we hold educational sessions at clinics and employers, offer personalized lactation support through Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors, and create a supportive community through Whatsapp groups and Facebook.

The Maziwa breast pump is a fraction of the cost of baby formula or other high-end breast pumps. To test our value proposition, we have been assessing the importance and willingness-to-pay for each feature to determine our product design and pricing. We will also offer flexible payment plans and leverage grant funding to subsidize the cost for low-income women. Based on the insight that 33% of Kenyan women borrowed their breast pump, we are developing a rental option.  

While most pumps are only available at retailers in urban areas, we will reach new mothers at their maternity clinics, employers, and childcare centers. Clinics will sell our product for a commission and provide trusted lactation support, while benefiting from increased pharmacy revenue and postnatal care compliance. Employers can subsidize the cost of a breast pump to support working mothers or purchase communal pumps as an employee benefit. As the product gains traction, we will hire a sales team to secure listings at local retailers. We have also built relationships with e-commerce retailers like Kasha to capture online sales as this platform expands among middle-income consumers.

 

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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

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What is your path to financial sustainability?

Maziwa aims to be financially sustainable by ensuring that our sales and recurring revenue cover our variable costs and eventually, our overhead as we continue to gain efficiencies. To support our startup costs, we have raised non-dilutive capital and are continuing to fundraise. Our financial model projects break-even potential in Year 5. 

Our revenues include product sales, rental and monthly payments, and fees from educational sessions and lactation consultations. We will determine pricing based on three consumer and channel segments: middle-income women at private clinics and large employers, low-income women accessed through public hospitals or Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors, and mid-to-high income women purchasing from traditional retailers. Educational sessions will be funded by employers, private clinics, and county government contracts.  

Our expenses include variable costs, fixed overhead expenses, and initial capital investment. The variable cost of goods will decrease with economies of scale as production volumes increase. The distribution fees are commissions or margins as a percentage of sales. Our fixed costs are marketing and education, salaries, and administration, which we will keep lean by leveraging partnerships and temporary contractors. Finally, the initial investment covers research and development, supply chain and quality management systems, legal incorporation, and regulatory approval. 

Our hybrid structure allows us to raise blended financing. The Canadian and US not-for-profit entities can seek grants and donations and the Kenyan for-profit entity can raise equity and debt. To keep our offerings affordable and reinvest into our mission, we are focused on donors or impact investors that prioritize social returns.

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If you have raised funds for your solution or are generating revenue, please provide details.

Maziwa has raised $142,500 in non-dilutive grant funding to support our launch:

  • Sahar received the Social Entrepreneurship Award from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, including seed funding of $70,000, for one graduating MBA student

  • Maziwa fundraised $20,000 worth of Friends & Family donations 

  • Maziwa won the Social Impact and Audience Favorite awards, worth $7,500, at Northwestern’s VentureCat, the university’s largest annual venture competition 

  • Sahar was part of the Zell Fellows, a selective entrepreneurship program, in the Emerging Markets & Social Impact entrepreneurship track, and received a stipend of $10,000 for business expenses

  • Sahar received $15,000 worth of grants for Maziwa through Northwestern University’s social entrepreneurship program 

  • Sahar received a cost of living stipend of $20,000 for select entrepreneurs at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management 

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If you seek to raise funds for your solution, please provide details.

We are seeking $250,000 to support the next 12-18 months. Funds raised will support: 

  • Regulatory approval through FDA 510k clearance ($100,000) 

  • Regulatory approval through the Kenyan Pharmacy & Poisons Board ($10,000)

  • KEMRI approval to launch a product trial ($5,000) 

  • First product order from Chinese manufacturer ($35,000)

  • CTO and local team’s salaries ($100,000) 

We are focused on raising non-dilutive grants and we aim to raise these funds by the end of 2020. 

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What are your estimated expenses for 2020?

Our existing funds will support our 2020 operating budget of $70,000. This includes research & product development costs (50%), salaries (40%), and legal fees, marketing and education costs, travel and accommodation expenses, and administrative fees (10%). 

We are fundraising to support our product commercialization costs which will be incurred between the second half of 2020 (~$200,000) and the first half of 2021 (~$50,000). We are implementing an effective quality management system in order to gain regulatory approval ($50,000). We are applying for FDA 510k clearance ($100,000), followed by Kenyan PPB approval ($10,000). We will gain KEMRI approval ($5,000) to launch a product trial starting in 2021. We will manufacture our first production quantity with our Chinese supplier ($15,000 - 35,000). 

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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

We are applying to Solve to gain access to its robust community of funders and entrepreneurs, as well as personalized support from mentors and cross-sector partners. In particular, Maziwa is looking for advice and expertise in the global medical device sector to support its sourcing and manufacturing in China, importation and distribution in Kenya and East Africa, and international regulatory and legal matters. We have been fortunate to benefit from the advice of experienced mentors who have expedited our progress and propelled our journey so far. We hope to continue leveraging external expertise to tackle this challenging but worthy effort. Solve’s network of multidisciplinary leaders could help us make connections in government to support our market entry, with legal and regulatory advisors to navigate our upcoming approvals, to global logistics companies to create efficiencies in sourcing and distribution, and with experienced mentors who could provide feedback on our pricing and revenue model. 

Becoming a Solver would be an invaluable experience that will be a catalyst for Maziwa’s launch into Sub-Saharan Africa. Maziwa is focused on pursuing opportunities that not only provide financial support, but more importantly, resources and networks to amplify its impact and help the business scale smarter and faster. We know that joining the Solve network will give us exposure to powerful partners and help us build connections with fellow social entrepreneurs. We look forward to joining in this strong community of Solvers and unleashing our collective power to improve global health and well-being. 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Product/service distribution
  • Funding and revenue model
  • Legal or regulatory matters
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Please explain in more detail here.

Regulatory: We are starting the FDA 510k process with a regulatory advisor in the US and are seeking a Kenyan advisor as we aim to eventually gain Kenyan PPB approval.

Legal: We will sign a manufacturing contract with our Chinese supplier before 2021. We would benefit from legal advice on creating a sound contract and ensuring a credible and trustworthy relationship. 

Distribution: Healthcare supply chains across Africa are broken and many innovative technologies lose traction during implementation. We are seeking partners with supply chain expertise or existing distribution channels in Africa.  

Revenue model: While we have a sense of mothers’ willingness-to-pay, we will continue to test price elasticity to determine the appropriate pricing and segmentation strategy. We seek advice from fellow entrepreneurs with experience on this.

Fundraising: As an early-stage, hybrid-structured, medical device social enterprise, we are navigating the complex funding landscape and could use feedback on avenues to prioritize.  

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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

Maziwa would benefit from connecting with NGOs in global health, as well as Foundations like Novartis, Intuitive, and Johnson & Johnson. We aim to partner with USAID or other similar organizations to make inroads with county governments or public health bodies to disseminate our lactation curriculum and scale our Community Breastfeeding Ambassador program. We would also benefit from AMREF or an equivalent organization’s advice on training health workers effectively and efficiently. We are curious about the Gates Foundation’s investment in SureChill refrigeration technology and whether it could be adapted for breastmilk storage. 

We would love to talk to experts at medical device companies who deal with sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, and importation among Africa and Asia. We have been introduced to Solve winners like Neopenda and Access Afya, and would be curious to connect with other global health organizations like E-Heza and fellow entrepreneurs who serve or hire working mothers. We can also partner with large employers in East Africa to pilot our services for working mothers, like running educational sessions, providing breast pumps, and designing lactation rooms. 

We seek financing partners to back our payment plans for mothers or employers who cannot purchase breast pumps outright. We would also like to speak with companies that have facilitated hardware rentals or payment plans (e.g. solar companies) to understand their device tracking technology.

Finally, we are continuously iterating and improving our product and would benefit from accessing MIT talent, including any capstone classes, MIT Media Lab projects, and engineering or design interns.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion?

No

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize?

Yes

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use the Innovation for Women Prize to advance your solution?

Maziwa is a prime example of innovative technology that improves the lives of working mothers in developing markets. This discreet, battery-operated breast pump with portable milk storage allows mothers to choose to return to work after giving birth, without compromising on breastfeeding their newborns. In addition to our breast pump, we provide women with tools and resources to conduct tough conversations with their employers and educate their families and support networks on how to assist their breastfeeding journey.

Mothers who breastfeed optimally benefit from a reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and diabetes. Additionally, mothers who return to work are less likely to face postpartum depression.  

Women are an important part of Kenya’s workforce; 62% are economically active, compared to 68% of men (Global Economy). When women do not return to work after childbirth, they are often indirectly, or directly, penalized, especially within informal or vulnerable employment environments. After giving birth to three or four children, these women tend to drop out of the workforce completely. Re-engaging the 60% of mothers who stop working for family duties creates a larger and more diverse workforce in developing nations. In turn, this benefits society because women who work are more likely to reinvest their income into their families and communities, compared to their male counterparts.

The Innovation for Women Prize would help us advance the development of our breastfeeding solution, which supports women in the workplace, champions improved maternal employment practices, and advocates for public policy initiatives benefiting working mothers. 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Health Workforce Innovation Prize?

Yes

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use the Health Workforce Innovation Prize to advance your solution?

Maziwa qualifies for the Health Workforce Innovation Prize because we are training Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors (CBAs) to provide lactation support for low-income Kenyan mothers, and advancing breast pump technology, in order to improve maternal and newborn health.

In Kenya, breastfeeding education is lacking and mothers have difficulty accessing lactation support. Only 42% of mothers attend postnatal care visits (KHIS) and breastfeeding support offered by overburdened nurses during these visits is limited. Lactation consultants within the Kenya Breastfeeding Association charge up to 5000KES ($50USD) per session, which is cost-prohibitive.

In addition to leveraging the WHO’s breastfeeding resources, Maziwa will work with the Kenya Breastfeeding Association to develop a curriculum for CBAs to assess common breastfeeding challenges, share best practices, and teach new methods of breastmilk expression. CBAs will support working mothers on managing conversations with employers, creating a lactation schedule around their workday, and safely expressing, storing, and transporting breastmilk. Ongoing support will be available to new mothers through WhatsApp groups. Maziwa will check-in with CBAs to monitor the program’s impact.

In a similar project where community health workers conducted home visits to teach new mothers about breastfeeding practices and the importance of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6 months rose from 2% to 55% (APHRC). 

This $50,000 prize would allow Maziwa to train 50 Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors over the next 2 years. Each of the trained CBAs will reach out to approximately 100 new mothers within their communities per year, for a total of 5,000 mothers per year. 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the AI for Humanity Prize?

No

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Funded Award?

Yes

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Explain how you are qualified for this award. How will your team use the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Funded Award to advance your solution?

Maziwa improves maternal and newborn health in low- and middle- income communities by alleviating the trade-off between breastfeeding and working. This discreet, battery-operated breast pump and portable milk storage cooler make it easier for working mothers in emerging markets to express breastmilk in any workplace. Combined with a breastfeeding education and personalized lactation support, we create a more supportive environment for new mothers who are returning to work.

Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months are 14 times less likely to die than those who are not (UNICEF). Breastfeeding also lowers the likelihood of malnutrition, stunting, and SIDS, and improves cognitive development in children. Breastfeeding mothers also benefit from a reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and diabetes. Working women are more likely to reinvest their income into their families, compared to their male counterparts, allowing them to lift their families out of poverty.  

With the support of the Kenyan Pharmacy & Poisons Board, we will launch the Maziwa breast pump in 2021. We will work with governing bodies like KEMRI to gain ethics approval to launch our product trial with Kenyan mothers. We have already conducted postnatal care clinics at public hospitals in Kiambu County, in partnership with Jacaranda Health. We aim to continue building relationships with county governments to scale our lactation support initiatives with Community Breastfeeding Ambassadors. Additionally, our employer services help companies adhere to public policies like the Health Act 2017, which mandates private lactation spaces at all workplaces. Finally, our long term goal is to champion progressive public policy and partner with politicians like Sabina Chege in continuing to advocate for maternal employment policies, such as the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill 2019. 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Future Planet Capital Prize?

No

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Solution Team

  • Sahar Jamal CEO & Founder, Maziwa
 
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