LifeBank, a Nigerian-owned blood and oxygen delivery company, recently got the top prize at the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), organized by the Jack Ma Foundation, for African businesses. LifeBank’s CEO Temie Giwa-Tubosun carted away with the top $250,000 cash prize out of the $1 million worth of prizes available to 10 entrepreneurs. 

On the occasion of her win, Giwa-Tubosun stated that: “the Africa Netpreneur Prize will give” her “the resources to grow LifeBank and expand” its “presence in Nigeria and throughout the rest of Africa.” She added that she looks forward to continuing her journey “to solve problems and make a significant impact on the future of Africa.”

The ANPI is a flagship initiative of the Jack Ma Foundation, created by Jack Ma, a Chinese Investor and founder of Alibaba Group, after his first trip to Africa in 2017. The aim of the prize is to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. This is its maiden edition for African businesses and the Foundation has committed to running the occasion for the next 10 years.

Life Bank is a technology logistics company based in Lagos State. It was set up to tackle the problem of blood shortage in Nigeria. As at January 2017, the company had helped deliver over 2000 pints of blood to patients across the state.

In partnership with the Ethiopian government agency tasked with exploring technology, Information Network Security Agency (INSA), the LifeBank team successfully tested drone delivery in Ethiopia last month. The drones were programmed to automatically pick up samples from blood banks and deliver to laboratories or hospitals without any form of human control.

In her words, Giwa-Tubosun said that what LifeBank had done in Ethiopia “ was like a research project to show that we can deliver these critical supplies [blood].” She added that it was carried out “for a couple of weeks and it was successful.” The company aims to achieve success with the use of drones in Nigeria too. 

Nigeria has a deficit of more than 1.7million pints of blood per year, according to the country’s health ministry. The country’s National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTT) can only collect about 66,000 units per year. Whereas the country needs up to 1.8 million units of blood yearly. Through the efficient real-time delivery of blood using motorcycles and boats, LifeBank aims to contribute maximally to improving the country’s figure.

The use of their motorbike dispatch riders, who help pick up specified units of blood from blood banks to deliver to the required hospitals, has solved the problems associated with poor road networks. These motorbikes have cold chain transport box used to store the blood.

Also, a recent partnership with Google has enabled the company to incorporate Google maps into its mobile application, mapping out locations connecting doctors, blood banks, hospitals, and dispatch riders.

By Ishioma Eni

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