Medication for Nepal (MFN), the innovative volunteer-run health initiative started by Nepali social entrepreneur Sumana Shrestha, has been praised at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Palo Alto, California.
In a speech to program participants from around the globe over the weekend, President Barack Obama said: “We’ve helped more than 17,000 entrepreneurs and innovators connect with each other, access capital, find mentors, and start new ventures … the Tanzanian startup that helps farmers reduce their harvest losses. Or the company in Nepal that’s helping to improve charity health care.”
Shrestha began MFN during the height of the five-month Indian Bockade, during which it delivered 9.5 tons of life-saving drugs to 15 districts across Nepal, effectively saving thousands of lives and building an outreach to 2.5 million of the poorest Nepali citizens.
MFN uses an innovative, technology-based peer-to-peer network that captures transparent data sets about medicine shortages in remote areas of Nepal, and delivers donated medication through coordination with numerous organisations, volunteers, and district health communities. A web-based platform also allows micropayments for as little as fifteen cents, which enables broader participation and reach.
“The strength of MFN lies in the use of technology to be transparent and reduce the cost of service delivery, in addition to a method of social innovation that takes an inclusive approach to engage people to help. The key is in collaboration, and empowering locals to take charge of their problems. The model of charity needs to change,” said Shrestha.
MFN was one of the eight participants from Nepal to participate in the GES hosted by Obama, which saw 700 successful entrepreneurs out of 5,000 applicants from around the globe. It was the only delegate from Nepal — one of the 36 participants around the globe — to be involved in the GES Spark the Fire Pitch Competition, and one of the 150 selected for GES+, a day-long event focusing on the most promising youth and women entrepreneurs.
Sumana Shrestha was also praised by FUBU founder and 2015 Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship Daymond John in a blog published on the White House website: ‘I’m excited to meet people like Sumana Shrestha, who started Medication for Nepal, an organisation that uses technology to tackle inefficiencies and high health care costs, ensuring medical access for the most vulnerable populations in her country.’