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Empowering low income female youth with personalized and timely reproductive health information via interactive digital conversations.

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Tell us about your vision for this project: Share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years

By 2022, we will be delivering the Lily service in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We will be enabling 10 plus million young women annually to confidently make more informed reproductive health decisions and live healthier lives that they otherwise would.

Who will implement this idea? Or what’s your strategy to implement in the next 6-18 months?

MacGregor, Emil, and Stephen work full time. Mercy will switch to full time. Jacaranda Health will continue to provide and improve the medical content. Oxygen8 will continue to facilitate telco connections and mobile terminated billing. Everyone is based in Kenya and both partners have offices in Kenya. We will need 1 additional customer service employee per 50 to 100K additional end users. We will need to hire additional language and programming support in the next country we expand to. Our technical advisors will continue to provide strategy advice (Suha and Santosh). Ideally, another organization will help us perform impact assessments.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

We planned to deliver menstrual cycle reminders. Sathy Rajasekharan, Chief Innovation Officer for Jacaranda Health explained that many young women struggle to get accurate family planning and pre and post-natal care information. We therefore pivoted to make Lily more comprehensive. We designed Lily to work in partnership with a telco. Neelofar Shariff from Safaricom Innovation (formerly GSMA) explained to us that we need to grow Lily as a stand alone product and then negotiate with telcos.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

Big Change/Decision Making Steps 1. MacGregor or Emil identify big decisions or need for changes (or they are brought to our attention by team member or technical advisors) 2. MacGregor and Emil consult our advisors and/or team members if issue overlaps with his or her expertise 3. MacGregor and Emil analyze decision by modelling with actual numbers whenever possible (or best guesses if actual data is not available) 4. MacGregor and Emil make decision 5. Entire team acts on change

How long have you been working on the project?


What year was your organization or group started?


How many full time staff are needed to implement your idea?


What most attracted you to the UNFPA Young People's Sexual and Reproductive Health Challenge?

We were attracted to the opportunity to gather feedback and new ideas and force ourselves to go through a rigorous exercise explaining and testing our proposed solution. We were also very excited to potentially cross-pollinate with others working on related solutions.

Share the URL for your Business Model Canvas Here


Opportunity Areas – Select those that apply

  • mHealth
  • Data

What specific problem(s) are you trying to address? (300 character limit)

Young women in low resource settings lack easy access to relevant reproductive health information. Whereas a woman in the U.S. might use an App or Google to inform herself, many women in countries like Kenya don't have access to smartphones and internet and are less confident using these tools.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address? (500 character limit)

We don’t know how scalable our marketing strategies are. As we increase spending on marketing will the cost per acquisition decrease because of network effects? Or will the cost per acquisition increase because the market will be saturated? We have built our core platform with the purpose of handling 1 million plus subscribers daily but we don't know if our partner telcos will have any trouble handling that volume of SMS for us.

Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)

Faith is a college 1st year and doesn’t use a smartphone because they are expensive. She wants a baby in 5 years. Faith receives a daily SMS from Lily reminding her where she is in her menstrual cycle with tips on managing it and living a healthy life. Faith makes sure to read each message she receives because she is paying for them. Because each day she hears from Lily, it has top-of-mind status with her and whenever she has a question about her body, she just asks Lily directly on SMS. Faith doesn’t mind if it is an embarrassing question because she knows Lily is private. Once for instance she was considering family planning methods and asked Lily if it was true that IUD reduces your chance to have a child later in life. Lily’s response corrected this misconception. Because Faith thinks of Lily as her SMS friend, Faith trusts Lily’s answer. Now Faith will make a better family planning decision. Lily is built to simultaneously communicate with millions of 18-24 year old women

Explain your idea. (500 character limit)

Insights: 1.Users want to know about their menstrual cycle and reproductive health however many don’t have smartphones and are most comfortable using SMS. 2.Users trust a service more if they pay for it and use it frequently. Idea: Lily sends SMS daily to users explaining where they are in their menstrual cycle and related tips. Users SMS Lily any updates on their cycle, or health questions at any time and Lily responds. User is automatically debited $.02 each time they receive SMS from Lily

What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)

The service helps users understand and plan for PMS and menstruation and provides personalized reproductive health advice. Access to this information empowers women to be more confident in their bodies and their decisions and makes them feel more in charge of their future. For instance, many users start out telling Lily that they aren’t interested in using family planning but then as they become more aware of their reproductive health they start to ask more and more family planning questions.

What's different about your idea compared to current solutions? (500 character limit)

By charging users for each message, Lily is unique because it is 1. a sustainable business and 2. forced to constantly deliver value to customers (because users can unsubscribe at any time). There are many reproductive health smartphone apps however most low income young women don't have smartphones and are more confident using SMS. By delivering via SMS, Lily is unique because it creates more engagement than any app (over 60% of users talk to Lily each month).

What are the key reasons why end users would turn to your organization over another?

  • Convenience / Accessibility: Making products accessible

What would success look like for your end users? (500 character limit)

Greater understanding and awareness of her body, and particularly her reproductive health. Which long term results in: - More confidence - Less likely to contract STD’s - Less likely to have unplanned pregnancy - More successful life

How would you measure the impact your idea has on your end user(s) ? How will you measure the success of your program? (500 character limit)

We will randomly select a control group of new subscribers and not deliver the service to them. This control group and a matched group of similar users who do have full access to the service (treatment group) will be repeatedly surveyed on their income, health, and attitude towards, and knowledge of, reproductive health. The difference in the changes of the groups' responses over time will indicate Lily’s impact while controlling for other variables (difference-in-differences model).

What strategies will/are you testing to acquire end users? (300 character limit)

We have tested: - Facebook marketing and achieved a $.40 per customer acquisition cost. We think we can reduce it further with more testing. - Referral model which appears to work at $.30 per customer acquisition. - On-the-ground promo force but it didn’t seem scalable. We will also test radio

Key partnerships - Who will you partner with to make your idea work? (500 character limit)

Signed Partners: -Jacaranda Health - Innovative maternal healthcare provider in East Africa. Helps us develop health advice for users as well as collaborates with us to optimize the message language and product design. -Oxygen8 - A global technology provider of multi-channel engagement. Facilitates our telco connections and mobile terminated billing. In Discussion: The Busara Center for Behavioral Economics – Experts in applying behavioral economics in emerging market

What is your organization’s name? (150 character limit)

Our legal name is "Development Technology Services Limited" (DTSL) however our only product and brand is "Lily".

Tell us more about you: (750 character limit)

Fulltime team (all in Kenya): -MacGregor Lennarz-Operations and Product Design- Formerly Juntos Commercial Director -Emil Sjoblom-Customer Acquisition and Technology- 10 years Africa telco experience -Stephen Ndirangu–Developer- SMS technology expert. Previous clients include Equity Bank and the Government of Kenya. -Mercy Cheruiyot-User Researcher and Operations- Student at Jomo Kenyatta University Advisors: -Suha Patel: Obstetrician/gynecologist and public health professional. Board-certified. Experience designing, implementing, and evaluating innovative approaches to improve the health of women in low-resource settings -Santosh Kulkarni: Millicom Financial Services Africa Regional Head of Products

Where will your idea be implemented? (200 character limit)

Piloting in Kenya now. Will continue to iterate in Kenya and intend to later expand to other markets (Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia are potential targets).

What do you need to get started? (500 character limit)

Financial – for marketing - With additional financial backing we could take more risks on testing marketing strategies and scale effective marketing strategies faster and larger. Human or Intellectual - for marketing - We are learning as we go with marketing. With experts on social media and/or traditional marketing we could accelerate our growth curve. Human - For language optimization - With more help we could test and improve our messaging faster and thereby improve the product faster.

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • National - expansive reach within one country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organization Location (200 character limit)

The company is registered in the Seychelles. The main team is all based in Kenya.

What is your organizational status?

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Deb Levine

Here's another question: How will you decide which countries to expand and scale to after Kenya? Where have you seen the most demand?

Photo of MacGregor

We ran the same advertisements that we run in Kenya in 16 different countries (translated into local languages). India, Bangladesh, Brazil, and Philippines showed the highest demand per viewer (showing 2x the demand level per viewer that we see here in Kenya). We have thus just launched a “Lily Light” product in Bangladesh and expect to launch in these other three leading markets by end of year.

Photo of Deb Levine

So interesting! I love how you do the user research before entering new markets. Higher likelihood of success when you’re ready to scale!

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