The BiD Challenge International requested our partner countries to submit at least two outstanding entrepreneurs from the last year. From this, eight competitors were pre-selected and asked to pitch to an expert jury during BiD Week. This select group was then reduced to just three outstanding finalists after an interview session:
The Growing SMEs conference was to be the venue for the final stage of the competition – a pitch in front of the audience and jury. With Princess Máxima also in attendance, there was immense pressure on the finalists.
One by one, each finalist pitched their business to the live audience. The jury retired to discuss the merits of each plan while Princess Máxima and, Global Entrepreneurship Week President, Jonathan Ortmans delivered rousing and relevant speeches to the engrossed audience. Upon their return, the jury announced the winner, on the merit of potential growth and impact, was Nicholas Sowden and his company Penda Health – a company providing healthcare to the low and middle-income of Kenya.
It is estimated that by 2018 the middle and low income of Kenya will spend USD 2 billion a year on outpatient health care. Despite the size of the potential market, this market is completely ignored by the current national healthcare system in the country. Penda Health is building a chain of clinics that focus on making great quality accessible, warm and safe customer experiences and specializing in women’s reproductive healthcare. After being crowned BiD Network Entrepreneur of the Year, Nicholas Sowden, took the time out to share his thoughts on the BiD Challenge International:
What implications do you think winning BiD Challenge International will have on Penda Health?
I think it will really boost morale at Penda. We earned this award as a direct result of some seriously hard work and sacrifices by everyone one of us, especially the clinic team. We’re very excited that it has been noticed by the international audience.
We’re also looking for partners to help us open the next few clinics and this recognition and the resulting publicity can’t hurt…
What did you get from your attendance at Growing SMEs The Hague?
We met SO many great people. In particular, we’re now having conversations with 6 different active investors about working with Penda. Great news for us. We also won the award, which will help with credibility and exposure.
I also met lots of incredible entrepreneurs, especially from within East Africa. I’m pretty humbled by their businesses.
What are yours and Penda Healths plans for 2013?
We’re opening 2 to 3 more clinics, learning how to run a chain and preparing for our scale phase. Most importantly is hiring great people and strengthening our culture along the way.
What did you think of the programme at Growing SMEs and BiD Week, the preceding business week?
It was great, especially the last day of the conference with all the people, connections and learning. And, of course, the competition.
Congratulations to all participants and to Penda Health, this challenge exemplified the spirit of innovation and growth that BiD Network is all about.