How 2024 Global Aurora Tech Award winner Folake Owodunni built largest network of First Responders to save lives in Nigeria

Dollita Okine March 29, 2024
Owodunni’s genius idea resulted from a terryfying ordeal with her one -year-old son in 2017. Photo credit: X, Folake Owodunni

Folake Owodunni, CEO of Emergency Response Africa, recently emerged as the winner of the Global Aurora Tech Award 2024.

The Aurora Tech Award recognizes female tech company founders whose initiatives have had a significant influence on global development, with the goal of empowering women entrepreneurs and combating gender bias in venture funding.

After a terrifying experience with her one-year-old son in 2017, Owodunni came up with a brilliant idea. While living in Canada, the toddler started screaming in pain around 2 a.m.

Her son had severe ear pain, which was treated by two trained paramedics who showed up less than ten minutes after she called the emergency number. The little boy fell back asleep in less than thirty minutes, and the paramedics advised her that they did not need to go to the hospital or ride in an ambulance.

She told Disrupt Africa, “I began reflecting on what we would have done if we had been at home in Nigeria. In between waking a neighbour to drive us to the nearest hospital, and not being sure whether the hospital would have the capacity to receive and treat us, I knew that it could have been a different, much scarier experience.”

So, she developed Emergency Response Africa (ERA), a health tech company that delivers fast, reliable emergency medical services to combat the mediocre emergency response in her home country and Africa. 

ERA launched a pilot in Lagos in March 2021 and has since addressed hundreds of emergency requests, achieving response times as low as 9 minutes.  

The mompreneur explained “In a place like Lagos, traffic is a huge problem for everyone. What sets us apart is our focus on building a robust network of partners and using technology to improve speed.” 

“Emergency Response Africa offers access to the largest network of First Responders, emergency vehicles, and verified emergency-ready hospitals, powered by a world-class Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence software platform,” it says on its website. “Our technology ensures smart dispatching, seamless communication and data transfer from end to end, making sure patients get the right help at the right time.”

Nigeria’s Owodunni believes that in an environment where 92% of people take themselves to the hospital because they don’t trust that an ambulance will arrive on time if they call, having a reliable service to provide prompt treatment at the scene and transfer to the right hospital is critical.

Two years ago, she indicated that the organization has expanded to include 45 first responders, 65 ambulances, and 15 hospital partners, with representation in numerous states.

“We are currently focused on serving diverse communities across Nigeria, where access to timely emergency medical services is severely limited,” Owodunni said to SheCanCode this month after winning the award. “This includes Benin City, where we’ve recently launched a pilot project with the Edo State government to benefit the city’s 2.5 million residents.”

Despite certain challenges, including navigating regulatory hurdles, securing funding, and scaling operations, she said that in the next two years, she and her team would like to expand their reach beyond Nigeria into new regional markets.

Head of the Aurora Tech Award Ekaterina Smirnova discussed the significance of Owodunni’s accomplishment and said that the award serves as a continual reminder of the critical role that women play in bringing about change and innovation. 

She expressed, “We celebrate the remarkable achievements of Folake Owodunni, Hannah Töpler, and Sarah Phiri-Molema. Their groundbreaking startups not only address critical needs in their communities but also serve as local role models, inspiring change and fostering innovation. These awards play a vital role in providing much-needed recognition to women in the tech industry, amplifying their contributions, and paving the way for greater gender equality and diversity in innovation,” per The Guardian.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 29, 2024


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates