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Bive: A Social Business Improving the Health of Low Income Communities

Updates from Caldas.

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In 2011 we ran the Social Business Challenge sponsored by the Grameen Creative Lab (which subsequently evolved into new company called Grameen Caldas) and the Government of Caldas, Colombia which focused on improving the health of low-income communities in Colombia and around the world. Specifically Grameen were looking to create social businesses: organisations that would become self-sustaining and involve and give back to the communities they serve. With this OpenIDEO challenge that meant improving life for a place where 26% of the population lives in extreme poverty.

During the challenge the OpenIDEO community surfaced 292 Inspirations on social businesses and innovative health solutions from around the world. In addition the team from Grameen Caldas interviewed local people and shared insights in the Inspiration phase. This helped the community learn and come up with 98 new ideas – and from those innovative starting points, ten winning ideas were selected.

The ideas from the challenge were analysed by an entrepreneurial team acutely aware of some of the health issues of Caldas: a medical doctor, Jorge García, business manager, Diana Quintero and master in development projects, Felipe Tibocha. Working with Grameen Caldas they took the winning ideas from the OpenIDEO challenge and used them to inform a business plan which received funding in November, 2011 from Artemisia (Brasil). This enabled Jorge, Diana and Felipe to found Bive, a social business in Caldas, Colombia which provides affordable, quality and expedient healthcare services to Caldas' low-income communities. In 2012, Bive received seed capital from Ecopetrol to start the business and received consultancy services from Grameen Caldas. These were two important factors in evolving the business and really getting it off the ground.


The Bive team

Bive’s team identified two of the ideas from the challenge and prototyped with the first – a concept by Sarah Fathallah called Madre Cuidadora (Caring Mothers). This idea was to create a network of community 'mothers' to be trained in basic health promotion and prevention. Using these skills they resell basic health products, provide trusted advice and offer health checks biannually.

Bive has seen impressive growth and already have 1300 users in two cities and aim for 5000 this year. Their health network is composed of 34 different health providers in 42 types of services including general medicine, specialised medicine, diagnostic services, pharmacists and fitness centres.

Bive’s entrepreneurial team ambitions don't stop there. They have already begun in parallel to develop another idea from the challenge, this time by Manish K Singh – to create an SMS health advice service. Bive have already begun piloting this idea by starting with pregnant women. “This month we have started a two month pilot called MAMI (Mamás más involucradas - Mothers more involved) with fifty pregnant women. Mothers receive three SMS per week with pregnancy advice, notifications of their baby’s stage of development and reminders of upcoming appointments.”

Bive are using MAMA for the service – which is the first time MAMA has been used in South America. MAMA has been influential in helping Bive develop their service and have provided their expertise to help evolve the idea and provide the SMS messages. Bive translate the messages from MAMA, adapt them to the local health area and connect the mothers to local health providers.

Bive’s goal is to finish the current pilot, evaluate and learn and then grow the network to 500-1000 in their next phase of the project.

When we asked Jorge how OpenIDEO was beneficial to his progress he replied:

"You are encouraging people to act with OpenIDEO. A lot of entrepreneurs have the awareness of problems but often don't know how to take action."

Congrats to everyone that took part in the collaborative effort of this OpenIDEO challenge – and especially to all the winning concept collaborators who helped to inform Bive’s social business that is having a vital impact on the underserved population of Caldas and nearby communities.


Contact information for Bive

Webpage: Email:

facebook: BIVE Twitter: @comunidadbive

If you want to find out more about social business check out Grameen Caldas’s site:


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The University of North Texas (UNT) is a public research institution in Denton with programs in natural, formal, and social sciences, engineering

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