The only thing better than a success story is a success story in the making. That’s the feeling I got when I spent some time with Team Neptune, made up of the nine Nigerian teenagers who won InterswitchSPAK’s inaugural “Innovation Challenge.”
InterswitchSPAK 1.0 Innovation challenge is just one segment of InterswitchSPAK’s National Science competition, organised by Interswitch Foundation.
A while ago, they were just nine students; now, they are nine students creating a solution that could change Nigeria’s health system forever. I know what you’re thinking; how did they get there? Let me take you on a journey that begins with — like everything in school — a written test.
- Students from all over the country competed in InterswitchSPAK National qualifying examination.
- Finalists were grouped into nine groups of nine students each. The groups were named after some of the known planetary bodies.
Their task was not a simple one. They were asked to find a solution to any notable socio-economic issues in health care, public transportation and education, taking advantage of technology. Each team had some help from staff of Interswitch who volunteered as mentors.
- Team Neptune, made up of nine SS2 students, tutored by Interswitch’s Princess Edo-Osagie, Inalegwu Alogwu and Abiodun Adebisi, won the challenge.
Their innovative solution permits anyone who’s registered on the NHIS to consult doctors via the internet, or USSD (for those without internet access). Like the superheroes that they are, the students also dreamed up a system that allows the patients, after consulting ‘internet doctors’, to get drugs from partner pharmacies using the doctor’s prescription.
According to the judges, Team Neptune ticked all the right boxes.
The two major criteria in choosing the winners were ideas and presentation.
- The jury considered the use of technology, what opportunities were explored, whether the idea was possible and how much change it would bring.
- For the presentation, the jury considered the delivery, creativity and demonstration of teamwork.
Team Neptune worked for it and they got it. They won the founder’s prize. Since then, they’ve been lowkey working, with help from Interswitch.
Interswitch is keen on making Team Neptune’s solution a reality. Here’s what they did; the students were brought into the company and tutored for weeks by no other than the Interswitch head of innovation, Eghosa Ojo.
In those few weeks, they’ve built their health solution into a business, while also learning invaluable teamwork, strategy and planning skills.
According to Israel, who is Team Neptune’s de-facto CEO, the entire experience was great. He said, “I think the most important thing we’ve learned here is how to work as a team, how to combine ideas and approaches to create something strong and valuable. We’ve also had the privilege of being tutored by someone who has years of experience and is very patient and willing to pass on knowledge”
Team Neptune has now presented their business to the senior management team at Interswitch, and we can’t wait to see how far this goes.
Keep your fingers crossed. If anyone tells you how your health insurance package now lets you consult a doctor via the internet and buy prescribed drugs, you know who made it happen. Nine Nigerian teenagers will have made that happen and we have Interswitch to thank for it.