Photograph — LinkedIn

“Our mission is to make healthcare accessible and affordable for Africans. We provide a combination of healthcare packages and insurance that can be financed by Africans in the diaspora for relatives back home.” – Bola Bardet, CEO & Co-Founder, Susu.

Bola Bardet, CEO and co-founder of Susu, is among the 20 finalists at Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Semi-Finals in Kigali, Rwanda. Her startup provides unique healthcare packages to help Africans in the diaspora allocate healthcare funds more effectively for their loved ones on the continent. Accessing health insurance in Africa can be particularly challenging due to financial constraints. However, those with relatives abroad often benefit from vital healthcare financial assistance.

Financial support from the diaspora bridges the accessibility gap for medical services, alleviating high premiums and expenses while enhancing overall well-being. This highlights the importance of global networks and family ties, offering hope and improved healthcare outcomes in regions where securing health insurance is daunting. 

In other cases, while Africans in the diaspora make commendable efforts to ensure quality healthcare for their relatives on the continent, a significant number still find themselves unable to afford necessary hospital bills. The primary reason behind this financial strain lies in the allocation of funds, as most individuals prioritize meeting other fundamental family needs. “Africans abroad send $20 billion annually to finance their loved ones’ healthcare. However, they mostly can’t track whether these resources are actually used for healthcare purposes. We want to help ensure that,” Bola Bardet, says at the ABH semifinals.

Consequently, despite the heartfelt intentions and contributions from abroad, healthcare expenses can remain an overwhelming burden for many in Africa. This highlights the complex financial dynamics at play and the persistent challenges in achieving comprehensive healthcare coverage within the continent. “Simply sending money for healthcare to relatives back home is not enough. One does not know what the money is being used for and it doesn’t translate into better health outcomes,” Bardet says. “That is why Susu is providing a combination of health insurance and care packages that can be financed directly by family and relatives anywhere in the world.”  

Bola Bardet, CEO & Co-Founder, Susu.
Bola Bardet, CEO & Co-Founder, Susu.

How technologies like Susu can aid access to quality healthcare in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa bears a huge disease burden especially, yet its people lack access to quality healthcare largely due to financial constraints. Among the many health challenges it faces, malaria tops its list, with West Africa, primarily French-speaking, bearing a disproportionate burden. This region alone accounts for half of the global malaria cases, highlighting the severity of the issue. About 482 million people are at risk for malaria in francophone countries. The disease also accounts for nearly half a million deaths annually and over 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

While strong health systems are crucial for curbing malaria epidemics, their availability across the continent remains limited. Many Africans lack the financial means to access these limited facilities or afford insurance. “At Susu, we are creating a dynamic healthcare solution, using technology to better channel the medical financial aids sent by Africans in the diaspora to their family members at home,” Bola Bardet explains. Currently, Susu operates in three francophone African countries: Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Gabon. Winning the African Business Heroes 2023 competition would provide them with better exposure and additional funds to expand their impact.

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