Meet Daniel Marfo, a pharmacist by profession, who is also passionate about improving the health care system of Africa through technology. His company (RX HEALTH INFO SYSTEMS) was created mainly to provide services which include health insurance management software, hospital management software, big data analytic platforms for pharmaceutical companies and healthcare companies at large.
His passion doesn’t remain just in Ghana but Africa as a whole.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am problem solver. I believe that to every problem there is a solution and once I think it through with the right people, together we can find the simplest solution to that problem. I am an extrovert of a sort. I love meeting new people and hanging out with friends. I am a qualified pharmacist and obsessed with technology and how it can impact society positively.
What stimulated your interest in entrepreneurship and why did you choose this particular work?
I grew up in a very non- entrepreneurial home. My dad is an architect and my mum a teacher so entrepreneurship didn’t come to me naturally. What I did enjoy however was creative thinking and problem solving.
My interest in entrepreneurship really came about after reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I was captivated by the simple yet effective principles in the book. That book really sparked my entrepreneurial journey.
As a pharmacist, my field of vision is very healthcare based. When I see the many challenges that healthcare habe, I just think of how technology can be used to solve them. So healthcare technology is really just a combination of my two passions.
What are some of the services you provide and any memorable project(s) so far?
Our company is called ‘RX HEALTH INFO SYSTEMS’ and the main services we provide are health insurance management software, hospital management software, big data analytic platforms for pharmaceutical companies and healthcare companies at large.
To single out a memorable project is hard, all projects we work on hold a special place in our hearts but two projects that stand out are the development and deployment of the first scalable end to end Health Insurance Claims System in Ghana. Our first client who used the platform is Nationwide Medical Insurance. Today that platform is used by 11 private Health Insurance Companies in Ghana and it connects more than 800 healthcare service providers (hospitals, pharmacies, dental, optical, diagnostic centres) to these Eleven (11) Health Insurance Companies.
Our first major external project for the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission also stands out in my mind. It is challenging as a wholly owned Ghanaian company to enter Nigeria so when you win a business in Nigeria it has an amazing feeling to it.
What are some of the untapped industries you think your project could be deployed in?
That’s a good question. For us at ‘RX HEALTH INFO SYSTEMS’, we believe that there is still so much to do in the space of Healthcare. When technology is deployed effectively in healthcare it can save lives and make cost of access to healthcare cheaper.
The underlying technology that we deploy has limitless potential. Our big Data Analytic capabilities can be deployed in almost every industry you can think of, to give the players in these industries better analysis and insights for them to make better data driven decisions for their businesses and industries at large.
Do you think entrepreneurship is the solution to some of the problems on the continent?
I believe so. Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship can solve so many of the problems we have in Africa and the world at large. If you pick the top 100 persons making a real change in today’s world, I am certain that majority will be entrepreneurs.
I added intrapreneurship to entrepreneurship because not everyone can move out on their own and set up a business and look to apply themselves as an entrepreneur but that should not prevent people from thinking like entrepreneurs even if they are working for someone else. They can contribute their quota in a unique and refreshing way to solve the business challenges they may be having at work.
What is your vision for the next 5 years and where do you see yourself as an African entrepreneur?
Richard Branson once said that if your dreams don’t scare you then they are too small. For myself and the team at ‘RX HEALTH INFO SYSTEMS’, our dream in the next 5 years is to be the premier healthcare technology company of choice for companies and individuals looking to do business in Africa.
We want to be involved in healthcare projects all over Africa. Our office in Nigeria just turned 1 year old a few weeks back and in the next 5 years we want to have offices in at least 3 other African countries and roll out our solutions in these countries.
What would you say is your biggest challenge as an African entrepreneur and why have you not given up?
There are so many challenges that it’s hard to narrow down. Let me talk about two of them.
Firstly, a lot of African entrepreneurs do not pick the right partners to start their business with. Most people either pick their friends or people who have almost the same set of skills as they have to go into business with. This inadvertently creates a situation where those business lack expertise in an area which may be critical for their success and before you realise may begin to make some bad decisions in that aspect of the business.
Secondly, capital is a big issue in Africa. The financial sector in most parts of Africa is structured to only support businesses that are already thriving or have been around for a number of years. Start-ups and new businesses have almost no access to cash to grow their ideas.
What gets you out of bed in the morning and what keeps you up at night?
My alarm gets me up in the morning. Lol that’s just by the way.
On a serious note, the desire to leave a lasting impact on the African continent and to one day say that RX HEALTH INFO SYSTEMS made an indelible impact in how technology is applied to solve healthcare challenges gets me up in the morning. The second thing that gets me up in the morning is the wonderful team that we work with. I cannot afford to fail them because they depend on RX HEALTH INFO SYSTEMS for their source of livelihood. If we fail them we have failed their families and that is something I can’t afford to even think of.
After going through the operational things of the day, at night I usually spend hours thinking and discussion the direction and strategy of the business with my co-founders.
How did you fund your business and how difficult was it?
Interestingly, we funded this business with no money from the start. All we had was a good idea. Back then we put in sleepless nights to create our first product. Since we are in the area of technology and data analysis, all we needed was our laptops. Once we created our first product which was a pharmaceutical data analysis software, we proceeded to find buyers for it. That was the hard part. Finding buyers for this product was challenging because no one wanted to take a chance on something new like that but once we got our first buyer and second buyer, we ploughed the money back in the business and that is how we actually got our first funds.
Since then we have always pumped our earnings and majority of the money back into the business and that is how we have grown.
What avenues can upcoming entrepreneurs on the African continent think of with respect to funding?
I believe that the Ministry of business development should engage financial institutions to create an enabling financial environment where entrepreneurs can gain easy access to funds.
One of the most important funding avenues is self-funding and seeking investments from close family and trusted friends. Seeking funding from family and friends is different from asking for a hand out. A lot of people approach seeking funding from family and friends lackadaisically. Approach them with a proper plan, business proposal and budget so they see how serious you are about your intentions.
Incubators, angel investors and crowd funding are other ways of raising funds that are growing and worth considering in Africa.
What do you wish you knew before starting your first business?
I wish I had more financial and legal literacy before going into business. From my little experience in business the 2 things that every business leader should always try and know more of is the legal framework in their industry of choice and being able to understand basic financial principles and how it can impact your survival and growth as a business.
What has been your greatest inspiration?
The desire to create indelible positive footprints with technology in healthcare delivery drives me on all the time.
If you had the chance to start again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, I won’t change a thing. All the experiences that myself and my co-founders have had is what has given RX HEALTH INFO SYSTEMS it’s unique identity and culture and I won’t change our wonderful team that we have built over the last few years for anyone else.
What significant advice would you give African entrepreneurs who are launching out?
1. Pick a field or industry you love and understand. Starting out in an industry you don’t love or understand is always a recipe for possible disaster when the going gets tough because tough days will come.
2. Look to solve a challenge or problem that people in that industry are experiencing.
3. Assess yourself and identify your weaknesses on a personal and professional level.
4. Entrepreneurship is not a solo thing. Find passionate partners or co-founders who have skills that you need to succeed but don’t have and go on this journey with them.
5. Be financially prudent and don’t spend the “company’s” funds excessively or on non-necessities. Too many entrepreneurs once they begin to have money start spending it on things that the business doesn’t really need.
6. Always get honest and brutal feedback periodically on what you are doing from your customers and stakeholders. Don’t take this feedback the wrong way rather see it as an opportunity to improve on what you are doing. Complaints and feedback are two of the greatest gift any business can have.