How Can an SMS Help an Unborn Baby in Africa? Ask Alain Nteff!

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In the part of West Africa where I come from, there seems to be this trend of thought concerning the educational process; we have been bred to believe that until we complete our educational training and present a degree certificate to the world, we are not good for much else. To be a ‘student’ equates being useless to the society, barred from meaningful contributions until the chains are loosed upon graduation. At least that’s the way it used to be.

In Cameroon, a Telecommunications Engineering student is sufficient proof that ‘studentship’ and age counts for little in a world thirsting for solutions to its myriad challenges.

Alain Nteff
Credit: anzishaprize.org

As a student of the Polytechnic Engineering School, Yaounde Cameroon, Alain Nteff founded PO Labs, a tech incubator for fellow engineering students using ICT to solve the problems they observed in their communities. Their projects included monitoring system for cooking gas bottles, currently adopted by TRADEX, Inc. and creating web solutions for SMEs. P O Labs is an ongoing concern which organizes hackathons and barcamps for dynamic engineering students.

His ‘techpreneurial’ leanings caught the attention of Google, and he was appointed a Lead Google Student Ambassador between June 2012 – July 2013 in which role he trained students and teams for the Africa Android Challenge 2012, organized Mapping events and trained teams for the Google Online Marketing Challenge.

Co-founder of WocmanTV, a digital media on-screen platform, installed in public transports and aimed at educating and entertaining passengers with respect to the places they meet while traveling which has run from November 2012 – January 2014, the 22 year-old with a BSc. in Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications from Siantou University is in the news for implementing a simple and yet effective system to alleviate infant mortality rates and provide expectant mothers with sufficient information in order to ensure safe gestation.

Credit: innovation-village.com
Credit: innovation-village.com

Now why would a 22 year-old man be overly concerned about expectant mothers? That would be the problem-solving spirit which emphasizes the little nugget of truth that change or impact doesn’t have to come packaged in gold garlands and spouting smoke; it may just be the little, simple solutions that have the most reach.

Disturbed by tales of new-born and premature baby deaths, Alain who once considered becoming a Medical Practitioner went into high gear as he sought solutions to the prevalent and distressing statistics on maternal and infant health in Cameroon.

 He co-founded Giftedmom.com in November 2013 with Dr. Tankou Conrad, an e-content platform for pregnant women in underserved areas; that helps them have safe pregnancies and combat the lack of access and knowledge that has led to high mother and infant deaths in Cameroon.

Gifted Mom works with health providers and medical students to create profiles for pregnant women to send automated alerts that help them track antenatal care. Since starting his project, more than 200 medical students have been trained, 1200 pregnant women impacted resulting in a 20 percent increase in antenatal attendance rate for pregnant women in 15 rural communities, with over 500 app downloads with integration on locally made phones.

The project comprises a Web and Mobile platform, SMS Services and Google Fusion Tables, all aimed at divulging important information on the proper management of pregnancy, and a healthy follow up of newborns. [giftedmom.com/about]

The social Entrepreneur was named the winner of the 2014 Anzisha Prize Award with a grand prize of US$25,000. He has also been named as one of Africa’s Top Young Entrepreneurs in 2014 by the African Leadership Academy, and is a ONE Young World 2014 Delegate. He is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

Credit: anzishaprize.org
Credit: anzishaprize.org

With plans to impact 50 000 pregnant women and mothers by the end of 2015 and 5 million across the continent by 2017, the GiftedMom project which generates funding from selling advertising space to interested parties is the first of its kind in Central Africa and a huge relief to expectant mothers who were previously uninformed and lacking access to professional feedback.

What shall we say to these things?

Way to go Alain, way to go!

© 2014 – 2017, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.

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