Using Tech in Agri-Value Chains to Reintegrate Women into an Agile Workforce

doctHERs matches the underutilized capacity of female doctors to the unmet health needs of workers in corporate (agri)-value chains

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $250k - $500k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 10,000 - 50,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Pakistan

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The exclusion of women in the workforce in both developing countries and mature markets has resulted in not only a massive loss of human potential but also loss of human life - especially in countries where millions of people continue to lack access to quality, affordable healthcare. In Pakistan, the good news is that 60% of medical school graduates are women. The bad news is that 3 out every 4 of these graduates are not participating in the workforce - largely due to sociocultural barriers.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We believe that the re-integration of women into the workforce (output) by leveraging technology (an input) will yield increased economic empowerment for women (outcome) which will ultimately lead to increased returns for both society and participating corporate/business partners (Impact). Lower-middle income frontline health workers (community health promoters, nurses and midwives) are recruited, trained and equipped with technology - hardware, software and wifi/broadband connectivity. They are then deployed in factories, ambulances and rural areas. where they are able to connect health consumers (especially female agri-value chain workers who otherwise have highly restricted access to women's health) to remotely located female doctors. These trusted intermediaries are trained to conduct sophisticated diagnostic and interventional procedures including fetal monitoring, EKG and ultrasound, all under the supervision and guidance of a remotely located (home-based) female doctor.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

The impact of our solution to date is as follows: Supply Side: (i) KPI: Number of women who are reintegrated into workforce as a result of tech-enabled health & wellness model (Impact = 168 women) (ii) KPI: % change in licensed female doctors who are available and actively participating in health workforce (comparing end-line at 24 months to baseline; Impact: 43% increase) Demand Side: KPI: % change in income of tech-enabled, female frontline health-workers (nurses, etc. deployed in agri-value chains in rural areas Impact: 38% increase in income at 24 months post-baseline) % change in maternal, neonatal and under-5 child mortality & morbidity (M&M; ongoing tracking; decrease in morbidity complications to date (e.g. 41% relative reduction in incidence of malnutrition)

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Our core business model is very straightforward: we charge corporate employers/sponsors a subscription fee for a monthly digital health & wellness plan of ~$5/person/month. Our COS (Cost of Sales) is $2.50/person/month, yielding a gross surplus of 50%. After deducting SGA (sales, general & administrative) operating expenses, we are able to generate a net profit margin at the unit economic level of ~15%-20% [70% of our income is earned; 30% from grants] Corporations are willing to co-finance the health and wellness of their value chains both to mitigate against reputational risk (worker HSE regulations) as well as to incent their value chains (distributors, retailers, suppliers, etc) to perform better or to provide higher quality inputs; corporate value chains are our path to scale.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

We are unique in that we carefully optimize supply and demand, simultaneously creating shared value for companies and their value chains. Most cmpanies focus on one side of the business - supply side or demand side and optimize for that. In contrast, we are a 'platform' business that matches the underutilized capacity of available female doctors (who otherwise would be excluded from the workforce) to the unmet healthcare needs of health consumers (workers in agri-value chains)

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Naya Jeevan is a health insurance plan for workers in corporate value chains that our team launched back in 2009 and has already scaled to profitability. In 2011-12, one of the members of the NAYA JEEVAN medical team had to take extended time off for maternity leave. We didn't want to lose this valuable member of our team and so ideated around creative ways in which we could keep her engaged with the team while she worked from home in the first 12 months post-maternity. This led to the prototyping of our nurse-assisted telemedicine model in a USAID-funded community health project in 2013-14 and an evidence-based realization that this could be an effective strategy to reintegrate thousands of female doctors into the health workforce (who otherwise would remain excluded). This became the genesis of doctHERs which was launched in 2015.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact

1 comment

Join the conversation:


Sustainable Innovations ( has developed a kiosk for capturing symptoms and diagnosing common ailments and preventable diseases. The kiosk builds electronic medical record for everyone in a rural village. It is equipped with computerized protocols. The kiosk helps high-school educated girls to be own their own health care delivery enterprises. They are not employees. They are business owners. Thought the kiosk may advance your cause, though not sure.