A startup makes the maternity journey easier for new mothers

by MMC
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Lorraine Muluka, co-founder and CEO, Malaica. (Courtesy)

In an evolving healthcare landscape, healthcare providers are forced to innovate to stay afloat. Malaica is one such company that has carved a niche for itself through an innovative pregnancy program, leveraging technology.

Lorraine Muluka, co-founder and CEO of Malaica, spoke to Enterprise about the new program and the company’s long-term vision to stand out in the healthcare industry.

Many Kenyans may not have heard of Malaica. Start by telling us a brief history of the company.

Malaica was established in 2022 with the vision of improving the pregnancy experience of expectant mothers. Our co-founders bring a wealth of experience from successful healthtech startups. Our mission is to ensure the safety and convenience of pregnancy for countless women.

In October 2022, we partnered with MumsVillage, a company known for its thriving community of Kenyan mothers and its commitment to providing valuable information and support throughout the different stages of parenthood. This partnership strengthens our ability to serve and support mothers on their unique journey.

What inspired the idea for the Malaica Pregnancy Program?

Malaica was born from the collective passion of its co-founders, united by their dedication to ensuring safe motherhood and their vision to reshape the narrative of maternal and newborn mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

At the heart of Malaica’s mission is a focus on identifying and addressing gaps and delays in maternal health care that contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes. These delays include a woman’s decision to seek treatment, her access to appropriate health facilities, and the quality of care she receives once there.

These challenges arise from various factors, including limited access to quality care, lack of ongoing support, and the burden of high health care costs, among others. Malaica is committed to recognizing and filling these gaps, with the ultimate goal of providing a holistic, affordable and nurturing environment for pregnant women. Through these efforts, we aim to significantly improve maternal and newborn health outcomes.

How exactly does it work and who can sign up?

Malaica is dedicated to supporting expectant mothers and has expanded its program to cover mothers up to six months postpartum. When a mother-to-be joins our program, she is matched with a personal nurse midwife, available seven days a week, ensuring adherence to WHO guidelines throughout her pregnancy journey.

They are also part of a private support group with mothers during the same trimester, run by experienced Malaica “Supamums” who provide advice and support. Moms receive daily messages tailored to the Kenyan experience, offering updates and advice for every stage of pregnancy.

Additionally, Malaica hosts Flash Chats, which are quick group Q&A sessions on WhatsApp, hosted by experts on various topics related to pregnancy and parenting. We have partnered with hospitals and healthcare facilities, offering discounted services to Malaica members, making healthcare more accessible and affordable. Antenatal care clinics, affordable consultation rates and Lamaze group and home classes further enhance the comprehensive support we offer.

Our target market is pregnant women in Kenya, benefiting from personalized support for a smoother and healthier pregnancy journey.

From your description, it seems that technology is at the heart of the initiative. Doesn’t that then block those who may not have access to, for example, the Internet?

You make a very important point! While technology is a great tool, we also understand that not everyone has easy access to the internet or gadgets.

At Malaica, we strive to be inclusive. We offer face-to-face antenatal care clinics and Lamaze classes in Nairobi for moms who prefer in-person support. Additionally, we are exploring ways to bridge the digital divide to ensure all mothers-to-be can access the help they need. There is also the cost aspect.

How much are the subscription fees and how can you ensure that they are not prohibitive for people in the low-income group?

We have three payment options available. The first is a monthly subscription for Sh399, a three-month payment option for Sh1,199 and you get an additional month completely free. There is also a one-time payment for the entire program of Sh2,499 which covers the entire pregnancy up to eight weeks after birth. We also offer various services like prenatal care clinics and consultations with specialists, each with their own pricing.

What do you think sets the Malaica Pregnancy Program apart from other products on the market for pregnant women?

At Malaica, we pride ourselves on offering you a truly unique experience. What sets us apart is the personal connection you will have with your dedicated nurse midwife.

This nurse-midwife will be your unwavering support throughout your pregnancy journey, providing you with personalized care and support adapted to your specific needs. But that’s not all! We believe in a holistic approach, so alongside a personal nurse midwife, you will also have access to a gynecologist, a ‘supamum’ and a mothers-to-be support group.

Together they form your dream support team. And to ensure that our services are accessible to all mothers-to-be, our subscription is economical at only Sh399 per month. Additionally, we offer online and in-person services, ensuring inclusiveness for all. Above all, we approach your well-being with the utmost empathy and warmth, treating you not only as a patient but also as a valued friend.

How does this initiative contribute to the government’s broader agenda to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality rates in the country?

By providing comprehensive, personalized care to pregnant women, we help ensure that pregnancies are monitored and managed effectively. This early and ongoing support can quickly identify and resolve potential complications or problems, contributing to safer pregnancies and healthier births. Additionally, our supamums and support groups create a stimulating environment for expectant mothers, where they can share experiences, gain knowledge and receive emotional support.

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