Startup easing motherhood journey for new mums

Lorraine Muluka, co-founder and CEO, Malaica. [Courtesy]

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

Lorraine Muluka, co-founder and CEO, Malaica talked to Enterprise about the new programme and the firm's long-term vision of making a mark in the health industry.

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

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

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

What inspired the idea of the Malaica pregnancy programme?

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 neonatal mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

At the heart of Malaica's mission is a laser focus on identifying and addressing the gaps and delays in maternal healthcare that contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes. These delays encompass a woman's decision to seek care, her access to suitable healthcare facilities, and the quality of care she receives once there.

These challenges arise from various factors, including limited access to quality care, the absence of continuous support, and the burden of high healthcare costs, among others. Malaica is committed to recognising and tackling these gaps, with the ultimate goal of offering an all-encompassing, affordable, and nurturing environment for expectant mothers. Through these efforts, we aim to significantly enhance maternal and neonatal health outcomes.

How exactly does it work, and who is eligible to sign up for it?

Malaica is dedicated to supporting mothers-to-be and has expanded its programme to cover mums for up to six months after giving birth. When an expectant mum joins our programme, she is paired with a personal nurse midwife, available seven days a week, ensuring adherence to WHO guidelines throughout their pregnancy journey.

They also become part of a private support group with mums in the same trimester, moderated by experienced Malaica "Supamums" who provide guidance and support. Mums receive daily messages tailored to the Kenyan experience, offering updates and advice for each stage of pregnancy.

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

Our target market is expectant mothers in Kenya, benefiting from personalised support for a smoother and healthier pregnancy journey.

From your description, it would appear technology is at the heart of the initiative. Doesn't it then lock out those who might not have access to, for instance, 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 ANC clinics and Lamaze classes in Nairobi for mums who prefer in-person support. Plus, we're exploring ways to bridge the digital gap to ensure all mums-to-be can access the help they need. There is also the cost aspect.

How much is the subscription fee, and how do you ensure it is not prohibitive to people in the low-income group?

We have three payment options available. The first one is a monthly subscription for Sh399, a three-month payment option for Sh1,199 and you get an extra month completely free. There is also a one-off payment of the entire programme for Sh2,499 covers the entire pregnancy up to eight weeks after birth. We also provide various services like ANC clinics and consultations with specialists, each with its own pricing.

What would you say sets the Malaica Pregnancy Programme apart from other products in the market targeting pregnant women?

At Malaica, we take pride in offering you a truly unique experience. What sets us apart is the personal connection you'll have with your dedicated nurse midwife.

This nurse-midwife will be your unwavering support throughout your pregnancy journey, providing personalised care and guidance tailored to your specific needs. But that's not all! We believe in a holistic approach, so alongside a personal nurse midwife, you'll also have access to a gynaecologist, a "supamum" and a supportive group of mums-to-be.

Together, they form your dream team of support. And to make sure our services are accessible to all mums-to-be, our subscription is budget-friendly at just Sh399 per month. Plus, we offer both online and in-person services, ensuring inclusivity for everyone. Above all, we approach your well-being with the utmost empathy and warmth, treating you not just as a patient but as a cherished friend.

How does this initiative contribute toward the government's wider agenda of bringing down maternal and neonatal mortality rates in the country?

By providing comprehensive and personalised care to expectant mothers, we help ensure that pregnancies are monitored and managed effectively. This early and continuous support can identify and address potential complications or issues promptly, contributing to safer pregnancies and healthier births. Additionally, our "supamums" and support groups create a nurturing environment for mums-to-be, where they can share experiences, gain knowledge, and receive emotional support.