Are you a social innovator working to increase access to healthcare? Apply now!

By Cecilia Gamba, Project Manager, LeFil Consulting

Applications are open for the Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award 2022. This competition awards impact-driven, market-based organizations that contribute to building resilient societies. This year, the award targets enterprises that increase financial access to healthcare in low-income communities.
  • Health expenditures push an estimated 100 million people worldwide into extreme poverty every year;
  • Only 290 million people worldwide (less than 4% of the world population) have access to Universal Health Coverage;
  • According to the World Health Organization, the number of individuals that suffered financial hardship from healthcare payments increased in the last decade;
  • The average domestic spending on health of lower income countries was only USD 34 per capita in 2018, about 4.4% of GDP, of which nearly 60% was out-of-pocket;
  • The share of out-of-pocket spending in total health spending remained above 40% in low and lower middle income countries.

In developing countries, where 80% of the world’s population live, public healthcare systems are often unable to meet the needs of a growing population. The impact of COVID-19 on already deficient health systems was overwhelming, disproportionately hitting poor communities and hence increasing the demand for affordable healthcare despite the challenges of providing it. New approaches to financing healthcare are more urgently needed than ever.

How can this challenge be tackled?

Entrepreneurial ventures can play a key role in complementing the public sector, and can be very effective at developing, prototyping and scaling up innovative solutions to ensure healthcare delivery. Advances in digital and financial solutions in particular are unlocking new opportunities to improve access and affordability of healthcare for low-income segments. Innovations around healthcare financing mainly fall under two broad areas:

  • innovations that increase household resources available for healthcare, such as:
    • savings solutions that make it easier and cheaper for people to allocate resources to healthcare;
    • payment solutions that make healthcare more affordable and/or better adapted to cash flow constraints or that boost compliance with chronic disease treatment;
    • credit solutions that allow people to pay for more expensive treatments;
    • remittances from friends and family abroad to enable healthcare access;
    • financial mechanisms to incentivize preventative healthcare provision and uptake.
  • innovations that reduce health shocks that can lead to poverty or economic vulnerability after a disease or an accident, such as:
    • microinsurance schemes that increase health insurance access and/or adoption;
    • financial schemes that pool resources for healthcare, optimizing and improving access to affordable care for the group as a whole;
    • other “safety nets” and risk mitigation mechanisms.

To identify, recognize and support the most promising solutions from around the world, the Swiss Re Foundation launched the call for proposals for the 2022 Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award. This global competition targets market-based (social) enterprises working in low and middle-income countries to make healthcare financially more accessible in low-income communities. The three finalists, selected on the combined criteria of social impact, commercial potential, innovation, and need for support, will be awarded grant funding up to USD 700,000, and will benefit from individualized coaching and technical assistance from experts across Swiss Re and partners. The general public will also be able to vote for their favorite finalist: the most voted venture will receive a special prize.

Applications to the Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award are open until January 13th, 2022. You can learn more about the call to applications, the timeline, and the selection criteria here.

About the Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award

The Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award is the Swiss Re Foundation’s flagship initiative. It is an annual global competition that recognizes entrepreneurial initiatives taking innovative approaches to building resilient societies and realizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While resilience is the overarching theme of the program, its specific focus changes annually. Previous editions covered topics ranging from renewable energy to climate-smart agriculture, among others.

The Swiss Re Foundation is funded by Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies, and reflects the company’s social and humanitarian values. Together with its partners and Swiss Re employees, the Foundation supports efforts to strengthen societal resilience in countries where Swiss Re operates and in targeted developing regions. Its work focuses on three strategic areas: Natural Hazards and Climate Risk Management, Access to Health, and Innovation for Societal Resilience. The Swiss Re Foundation aims to make basic healthcare accessible to at least 1 million more people by 2024.

For the Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award, the Foundation partners with LeFil Consulting, a Zurich-based consultancy specialized in the identification, design, growth and replication of innovations that create social and economic value, sustainably and at scale.

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