Access to quality healthcare is a major challenge in many emerging markets. This is due to a variety of factors, including the growing middle class, the lack of resources, and the competition and regulation that varies dramatically from country to country. This issue is particularly pronounced in Bangladesh, where the health sector is worth 10 billion dollars and is growing at 10 percent per year.
The population of Bangladesh is 170 million people in a small landmass, meaning nobody is more than five hours away from the capital city. As a result, people are traveling to the cities to access better health care. The need for quality health care is tremendous, and GDP per capita has exceeded India’s for several years in a row. However, the health sector is struggling to keep up with the excess demand in the market for private health care.
The Challenge of Limited Access to Quality Healthcare
The government is also challenged to maintain quality and standards across the sector. Private health care companies are leading the way in improving health outcomes and patient journeys in Emerging Markets.
One of them is Praava Health and its founder, Sylvana Sinha, came to the Emerging Markets Today podcast to tell her story.
Sylvana founded Prava Health, which is Bangladesh’s first fully integrated hospital information system featuring the first patient app in the country. She is also working to create a digital infrastructure in the health care sector that will be used to improve patient outcomes. By creating this digital infrastructure, Sylvana hopes to make quality health care more accessible to everyone in Bangladesh.
She saw this as an opportunity to create a high-quality and affordable health care solution within Bangladesh for the middle class. She believes that this population deserves to have access to quality health care without having to travel internationally.
To achieve this, Sylvana believes that establishing and maintaining quality standards is one of the biggest challenges. This includes having adequate international standard labs, reliable diagnostic testing, and ensuring that doctors have enough time to accurately diagnose patients.
Funding Challenges of Building Consumer Brands in Emerging Markets
However, building consumer brands takes time. As Sylvana explains in the episode, it can take longer to build a consumer brand in an emerging market than in Silicon Valley. This is because of the unique challenges and opportunities that come with operating in an emerging market. For example, there are different regulations and cultural norms that can affect the way a business operates. Also, it can take longer to develop relationships with customers and build trust.
In addition to the challenges of operating in an emerging market, there is also the challenge of finding funding. Despite the success of her company, Sylvana has not been able to secure any institutional capital. This is a common issue for entrepreneurs in emerging markets, as there is not a lot of focus on this segment.
Sylvana’s story is a great example of how entrepreneurs in emerging markets can make an impact. Her story also highlights the importance of having patience and perseverance when building a consumer brand in an emerging market. Despite the challenges, entrepreneurs like Sylvana show that it is possible to make a difference and create meaningful change.
The Importance of Capital Access for Women in Emerging Markets
Sylvana’s story also highlights a major issue that is often overlooked in the discussion of entrepreneurship in emerging markets: the lack of access to capital for women. According to Sylvana, only two percent of venture capital in the United States goes to women-founded businesses, and this number is even lower in emerging markets. This lack of access to capital is even more pronounced in countries like Bangladesh, where women often need their husbands or fathers to sign off on loans.
Without access to capital, women are unable to build their wealth, which in turn limits their ability to access power in the world. This is an issue that needs to be addressed if we want to see true progress in emerging markets.
There are several steps that governments and private sector organizations can take to help women gain access to capital. One option is to create programs that provide grants or low-interest loans specifically to women-owned businesses.
Also, governments can create incentives for private sector organizations to invest in women-owned businesses. Finally, governments can create mentorship and training programs to help women develop the skills necessary to start and run successful businesses.
It is clear that women need more access to capital if we want to see progress in emerging markets. Governments, private sector organizations, and entrepreneurs like Sylvana should all work together to create meaningful solutions that allow women to access the capital they need to build their businesses and create meaningful change.
Main photo By United States Agency for International Development - From Twitter account of USAID, , vaccination at Shyamoli TB hospital in Dhaka, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=112701301