Tech social enterprise Reach52's founder and CEO Edward Booty discusses what it takes to deliver essential healthcare to underserved communities
The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of national healthcare systems worldwide and the stark inequalities communities face when it comes to receiving medical care. It was the need to address equity in healthcare that Edward Booty founded the healthtech startup Reach52.
After graduating from university, Booty started toying with the idea of setting up a social enterprise to provide lower-income groups access to affordable healthcare. When he returned to the UK after studying abroad, he worked in various health consulting and government healthcare roles, which he says, “was really just me building the idea for Reach52”.
Driven by its mission to reach the 52 percent of the world that doesn't have access to essential healthcare, Reach52 uses technology and community empowerment to deliver healthcare services in a sustainable and scalable manner by partnering with businesses, governments and social organisations.
Today, the Singapore-based social enterprise works across seven countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Kenya. Booty shares more about the challenges he faced getting Reach52 off the ground and growing to its current reach.
The hardest part was everyone telling me it was impossible. People around me were saying there was too much corruption and vested interests in the healthcare industry for Reach52 to be successful. The biggest challenge [for me] was being thick-skinned and playing to win.
We got our first contract 11 months in. It was from a big pharmaceutical company and it enabled us to build our first app with the help of interns. We were then able to launch in the Philippines. I moved to the Philippines around that time to get the platform up and running, to train health workers to collect data and to run awareness and screening campaigns. We then added more health areas and more partners and launched in Cambodia. I moved back to Singapore to raise our first round of funding.
Success to me is in the small things. I remember being proud of having our first office. It was a grubby little place, but it was a “real” company somehow then. I also loved it when we were able to bring interns on board. It made me feel we could affect bigger change than just ourselves through young people who choose purposeful careers.