2018 Young Entrepreneurs Awards Winner: Adepeju Jaiyeoba

Initiative: Mother’s Delivery Kit

Country of impact: Nigeria

A business aiming to give women in rural communities the life-saving supplies they need at childbirth.

In 2011 Adepeju lost a close friend who died while giving birth. Her friend had money, was well educated and sought the best healthcare. Yet she died because of a lack of medical skills and knowledge among traditional ‘birth attendants’. In fact, 60% of babies in Nigeria are delivered by people who have no skills, knowledge or education, mainly in rural areas.

No more rusty blades and dirty floors

At the age of 31, Adepeju founded Mother’s Delivery Kit to help support the 1 in 13 women in Nigeria who are at risk of dying during childbirth.

Her company offers expectant mothers a bundle of supplies for the price of US$5 (€4.25). Rather than have to use a rusty blade to cut the umbilical cord, they now have access to a scalpel blade. Midwives get a mucus extractor to prevent birth asphyxia. And no longer will a woman give birth on a dirty, bare floor; the packs come with a sterilised absorbent delivery mat.

Empowering women as sales agents

So far, the business has sold around 500,000 delivery kits in rural communities, helping more than 1 million mothers and babies. As well as Adepeju and her core team of seven based in Lagos, who include trained doctors and microbiologists, there is also a network of 179 women sales agents responsible for getting the kits to those who need them most. It is work that helps the women gain financial independence.

Meanwhile, more than 4,000 birth attendants have received training to help keep mothers healthy and safe.

Currently selling kits in six of Nigeria’s 36 states, Adepeju is now looking to reach out further into the country, to help the other 50 million women approaching childbearing age.