Anike Lawal: Building an Online Community For Maternal Health with Mamalette
According to a 2015 report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day and a high percentage of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries, including Nigeria.
Specifically a report by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), indicated that Nigeria loses 2,300 children under five years old and 145 women of child bearing age Every single day.
This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world. Similarly, a woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13. Although many of these deaths are preventable, the coverage and quality of health care services in Nigeria continue to fail women and children.
It is against this backdrop that we must continue to project and encourage social initiatives that are geared towards solving the problem of maternal mortality in Nigeria.
One of such initiative is mamalette.com, a social innovation that brings experienced nursing mothers, expectant mothers and medical Professional together for peer learning in a regulated space.
Meet Anike Lawal, the founder of Mamalette, a platform for pregnant women and first time mothers in Nigeria. Launched in November 2013, Mamaletter offers content for pregnant women, first time mothers, host life events where experts gets to talk about issues that are relevant to the mamalette audience and provides opportunity for two-way communication.
Prior to founding Mamalette, Anike Lawal worked as a Management consultant in KPMG and briefly worked with DealDey in their finance Unit.
This wife and mother of two amazing boys explained what prompted Mamalette; “It came about as a need looking for a community of pregnant women when I was pregnant with my first child. Having gone to a school in Ireland and some part of UK, I noticed that people generally have a sense of communion especially when they share similar experiences. I looked for communities where I could relate with others who were also going through a pregnancy, people who had questions similar to mine or had experienced what I was experiencing but I couldn’t find any in Nigeria. I thought it would be great to have something like that in Nigeria and that’s how the idea came about,” she said.
Why The Name ‘Mamalette’ And Who Should Get Involved
“Basically it was about looking for a catchy name, a name that once people hear it they will have an idea about what it’s all about. I had like 20 or more names, the whole process took like about a month and Mamalette was the name that stood out and nobody had bought the domain name, so it was perfect,” Anike explained.
On who should get involved, she informed that Mamalette is an inclusive platform for a broad spectrum of people ranging from women seeking to conceive – expectant women- nursing mothers and medical professionals. According to her,’ before now, the major resource of expectant and nursing mothers are the knowledge of their mothers, mother-in-law/relatives but this knowledge is becoming limited due to the generational differences in their experience and the advancement of healthcare over the years. This has also made nursing mothers sceptical of the advice given by their aged relatives.
Another advantage mamalette.com offers is bonding therapy, where women seeking to conceive can meet other women with similar aspiration. This creates a form of support system for women going through similar situations.
On mamalette.com you can send us emails, call in, some drop questions on the online forum where you get suggestions and answers from others. People ask questions relating to their baby’s growth process, what to feed their kids and other questions relating to the general well-being of nursing and expectant mothers.
Mamalette.com also organizes offline events related to the objectives of the initiative in different cities across the country. Members of the online forums are also encouraged to attend and quite a no of events have taken place in Lagos and Abuja with a scheduled event in Port-Harcourt for July. Anike informed that they were set on building a big community of first-time mothers and mothers nation-wide.
Overview Of The Platform
Mamalette works with medical professionals in maternal health, that is the Gynaecologists, Obstetrician and others in the field. Due to the busy schedule and charges of these professionals, Mamalette got them to commit an hour for Questions and Answers on the Mamalette Live program.
Also, during the offline events which can have up to six medical doctors on the panel, people tend to ask a lot of questions ranging from Caesarian sessions, what food to eat when pregnant, why some women have miscarriages all the time, and to how to have healthy pregnancy, etc.
When you go to Mamalette.com very notable is the pregnancy by weeks with number 1 through 30. This is a pregnancy calendar which shows you what is happening to your baby and your body that week. There are notable symptoms for you to watch out for during the weeks. Then there is the baby by months, which highlights what to expect during the growth stages of a child.
“A lot of mothers ask questions like ‘my baby is one and he’s not walking yet, at what stage should my four months old be sitting down?’, So all the calendars explains what to expect at certain ages. This helps dispel the fears of nursing mothers on issues relating to the growth of their infant’, Anike explained.
Mamalette is also focused on mothers trying to conceive and mothers which children under the age of five, although the audience is also expanding to women with teenagers, thus serving as an eye opener into the market demand.
The Future For Mamalette
On the prospect of Mamalette over the next five years, Anike Lawal responded, “I think we are barely only scratching the surface of what we can do. I have many interesting ideas for Mamalette and it’s beyond just an online community. Life events is adding more values as well as collaborating with other relevant organizations. Also since we know that the majority of women we are targeting are offline, we are developing a series of support groups all over the country. These local support groups will address the low internet penetration in Nigeria and cater to the offline population. The task ahead is to find credible partners whose interest and mandate intersect with our objective of stemming the tide of maternal mortality in Nigeria’. She added that in five years, she see Mamalette becoming a comprehensive social venture that goes beyond the reach of the internet to becoming a part of the motherhood process in Nigeria.
Technology As a Tool
On why she chose to launch with an online platform first, Anike has this to say, “I knew the internet was my tool for it is the easier way to meet people. I can target them with the various social media tool out there. So the internet offered an entry point into the market and got recognition from organizations like Co-Creation Hub (Where Mamalette currently resides) and other partners we have worked with. She also added there had been challenges in dealing with the financial part of the business such as coming up with the overheads, salary payments and all other required financial capital.
Mentorship And Word Of Advice
“I do not exactly have female mentors out there. Initially when i started I reached out to lots of women but there was no feedback. I have lots of male mentors but unfortunately no female mentors.” says Anike.
Her word of advice for female entrepreneurs who are still scared of the unknown is ” You have to know what works for your situation. Surround yourself with people who will support you in every aspect, and surround yourself with people who can support your dreams.”
‘Funmilayo Ajala is a digital media strategist, content producer and Online Editor of Abovewhispers.com
This article was first published on AboveWhispers.com