The idea for MHPLabs was conceived in 2015, when Mohapi realised the significant impact mobile diagnostic laboratory services could have on the South African healthcare system. With a BSc honours degree in medical virology, she worked in the medical research industry for some five years before launching her own company in Bloemfontein.
“We are striving to address some of the issues in the South African health service delivery especially in the public sector,” she says. “We’re aiming to reduce and improve the turnaround time of patients getting their bloodwork results, as well as lessening the burden of people waiting in long queues to get tested.”
The struggles of a start-up
Establishing a company in the healthcare sector proved to be a challenge, due to the high cost of the medical equipment. With the hopes of raising start-up capital, Mohapi entered SAB KickStart Ignite, an entrepreneurship programme which supports the development of young innovators. She was selected as third-place winner in 2017 and received a share of R1,2 million in grant funding.
“Being part of the SAB Kickstart Programme has impacted us in a big way because when we mention that we are one of the winners, people tend to pay attention and take us seriously. It has also helped give us exposure,” she says.
She adds that participating in the programme was challenging, because it exposed her to different aspects of running a business and pushed her to expand her thinking processes.
“The most important lesson I learnt is that you need to know your product or service very well and become an expert in it. When you sell it to someone else, you need to give them the confidence that you know who you are and where you’re going,” says Mohapi.
Building a business
Today, MHPLabs specialises in point-of-care testing, which is conducted at the primary care level. In most cases, these tests require a small drop of blood and the results can be used to diagnose the patient and help doctors make immediate decisions regarding clinical management.
“Being mobile enables us to travel to clients at hospitals, clinics or doctors’ practices and particularly to rural areas, where there is a much greater need for medical services,” says Mohapi. “We are currently operating in Bloemfontein and my short-term goal is to get more medical equipment and secure more clients. Looking at the long term, we definitely want to operate nationwide.”
Mohapi’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Believe in yourself and your product or service, so that you can stand your ground and fight for what you want.
- After you do your research, go for it, bearing in mind that everything that’s worthwhile won’t come easy. Always persevere and never give up.