IN THE LAST EIGHT YEARS, Dr. Funmi Adewara has steadily grown her reputation, career, and global renown in the technology and health industries. With the developments in these fields, she has been able to invent and scale solutions that have provided thousands of Nigerians and other Africans with inexpensive and accessible healthcare treatments.
Adewara, a UK-based Nigerian medical practitioner educated at Cambridge, is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mobihealth International, a Nigerian and UK-registered digital health firm.
In recent years, her telemedicine firm has accumulated too many accolades to list.
Forbes Women Africa presented her with the Forbes Women Africa Technology and Innovation Award on the occasion of the 2023 International Women’s Day, whose subject was “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” The Technology and Innovation Award that Forbes Women Africa bestowed to Adewara was relevant, appropriate, and deserving, as implied by the theme.
The Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women Conference is an event that brings together female leaders from business, politics, art, sports, civil society, and other fields.
Renuka Methil, Managing Editor of Forbes Africa, stated that Forbes Africa, which has received several accolades for journalistic quality, believes in encouraging female change-makers in business, society, and life as visible role models for youth.
Methil said, “As a group, we have always passionately campaigned for the empowerment of women and girls in Africa via continuing and consistent coverage.”
Likewise, according to Methil, the summit’s topic was “Women 3.0: The icons and ideas transforming Africa.” The summit has established a reputation as a major calendar event for prominent women on the African continent and beyond.
Adewara said that the Forbes Women Africa Technology and Innovation Award is an acknowledgment of her work with Mobihealth, an integrated telehealth firm that uses technology to democratize access to healthcare.
She added that Mobihealth enables patients to access medical care — consultations, prescription medicines, diagnostics, health education and training — via mobile phones, computers, and walk-in telehealth clinics integrated with solar, internet, and AI-powered devices for vital signs and point-of-care ultrasound; for as little as N2,500 ($5) per year per person.
She emphasized that the Forbes Award was very gratifying and will increase the awareness of their work at Mobihealth.
“I was happy and honored to be in the company of extraordinary women at the celebration of International Women’s Day in Pretoria, South Africa,” she remarked. This is a victory not only for me, but also for my supporting team at Mobihealth, the healthcare industry, and women.
Adewara praised Forbes Africa for recognizing her as deserving of the 2023 Forbes Women Africa Technology and Innovation Award in her acceptance speech.
“I want to dedicate this honor to Mrs. Adenike Adewara, my loving mother, whose efforts and principles instilled in me allowed me to receive an excellent education and stand before you all today,” she added.
Adewara grabbed the opportunity to inspire every woman and girl to have self-confidence.
“You are sufficient. You can do it. No one has the arrogance to thwart your aspirations without your permission,” she said.
Adewara explained how she created Mobihealth International by stating that disease makes individuals extremely vulnerable and that timely access to high-quality medical treatment should not be a privilege, but a fundamental human right.
She went on to explain that Mobihealth was developed with a leaning toward Africa because it was where the need was highest and technology might help them leapfrog their existing issues, particularly the severe shortage of physicians.
Adewara described in her award speech how she founded Mobihealth during the worst point of her life, when she was going through a divorce, had an empty bank account, and was on the verge of homelessness with twin five-year-old children in private school.
Regarding how she was able to establish and fund Mobihealth, she emphasized that establishing a company, particularly in Nigeria and Africa, was unthinkable, that it was a crazy thing to do.
“I self-funded the firm using my salary as a physician and a little help from friends and family,” she added. “Unfortunately, at that time, it was difficult to obtain further investment not just from Western investors but also from African investors due to their prejudices.”
She stated that Mobihealth Nigeria was formed initially in November 2017, while the parent business, Mobihealth United Kingdom, was incorporated a year later. She noted that the decision was strategic and had to do with the perception and risks of investors.
“We discovered that having a presence in the United Kingdom offered us greater legitimacy and comforted investors,” she added. After establishing a UK branch, several investors who were first hesitant to invest did so.
In her acceptance speech for the Forbes Women Africa Technology and Innovation Award, Adewara also discussed challenges to financial availability. She bemoaned the fact that women face greater scrutiny and prejudice throughout financing procedures than males. She remarked that women must continually prove themselves, even when they outperform males in terms of measures.
According to her, socio-cultural barriers, sexism, sexual harassment, and the fact that society seems okay with them doing small-scale enterprises and does not expect them to be discussing scaling to multi-million dollar businesses are among the obstacles most women face in accessing funds and capitals.
“You frequently feel as though you are on trial,” she scowled. “As a woman, you must demonstrate your accomplishments. Investors are more concerned with the dangers, whereas male entrepreneurs are more concerned about the prospects.”
Adewara’s counsel to women and young people intending to start their own enterprises was to have self-confidence. You can do it. Fear should not hold you back.
She stated, “No one begins an endeavor knowing everything and having everything in order.” “Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once remarked, ‘If your dreams don’t terrify you, they’re not large enough.’ The scale of your dreams must be greater than your existing ability to accomplish them.
During the Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women Conference, Adewara was one of more than 50 speakers who addressed the event’s subject. She also participated in an interactive panel discussion titled “The West African Renaissance: Citadels of Power.”
Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 24th President of Liberia; Patricia Scotland, 6th Commonwealth Secretary-General and the first woman to occupy the office, according to the event’s organizers, were among the planned speakers.
Others included Tunde Oyeneyin, a Nigerian-American Peleton instructor, trainer, and motivational speaker; Thembi Kgatlana, a South African soccer player; Unathi Mtya, the group chief information and digital officer at African Bank; Fatima Babakura, the founder of Timabee and Yerwa Secrets; Nonkululeko Gobodo, the CEO of Awakened Global; Aisha Ayensu, the Creative Director of