Duke University and UNICEF has awarded Lily Health a spot in the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator, which aims to support social enterprises tackling the most pressing challenges facing children and youth around the world.
Lily Health is a digital health startup that gives over 120,000 women in Kenya their own personal health advisor via Whatsapp and Messenger.
Six social enterprises will join the Innovation Accelerator to develop and scale innovations that are addressing menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) in East Africa and beyond. The innovators’ solutions – which range from digital apps, to reusable and disposable pads, to community health models – all aim to strengthen menstrual health, hygiene, and management while tackling pervasive cultural taboos and educational barriers surrounding menstruation.
As adolescent girls enter puberty and begin to menstruate, many face challenges at school and at home that can lead to stress, shame, embarrassment, confusion, and fear. These challenges may include a lack of knowledge about menstruation, insufficient access to menstrual hygiene materials, and inadequate WASH facilities for girls so they can change in a private space and discreetly dispose of used menstrual materials. By emphasizing local solutions and putting girls at the fore, the Innovation Accelerator cohort will collectively bring much-needed MHH solutions to girls and in turn, help empower the next generation of women to be healthy, happy, and educated.
“We are thrilled to be part of the Duke Unicef Innovation Accelerator. We see it both as a confirmation of our hard work thus far and an opportunity to leverage world class expertise to scale Lily to millions of women,” said MacGregor, Co-Founder of Lily Health.
Through the Innovation Accelerator’s two-year program, the entrepreneurs will have access to a multitude of resources, including UNICEF subject matter experts, mentorship opportunities, Duke University faculty and students, monthly capacity building webinars, and a week-long residency at the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (I&E).