Health Information System Youth Enterprise: Our First-Year Journey
A year ago, my friends and I, then fresh graduates, were busy deciding our next steps. We were interested in applying our technical knowledge to a work situation when an internship opening at the Ethiopia Data Use Partnership (DUP) presented itself. Through the program, we were afforded the opportunity to provide technical support to health facilities, learning about the health information system (HIS) and how we fit into the bigger picture.
After a year in the internship program, we were encouraged to come together and form an enterprise. The process of setting up an enterprise was not easy, and it took a lot of learning. Beyond the IT knowledge that we possessed, we were challenged to build an enterprise that can address challenges in the HIS. Following that, an opportunity was created by USAID Digital Health Activity (DHA) for us to form an enterprise that would provide information technology (IT) and software support to health facilities.
DHA facilitated a training on entrepreneurship, delivered by the Entrepreneurship Development Center, which helped us craft our goals and reflect on this venture. DHA then guided us through the challenging process of obtaining a legal entity, provided us with startup capital, and helped us build additional digital health skills. Then our Enterprise Health information technology for Africa enterprise (HITFA) was born. Today it is staffed by 10 IT professionals who provide technical support to 44 health facilities in all the sub-cities in Addis Ababa.
Throughout the year, as a newcomer to the business, we faced many challenges, including contacting the revenue office and not being able to find market linkage. But these problems have taught us how to deal with people and solve problems. On a personal note, as the enterprise lead, managing peers and making various decisions is very challenging, given my lack of experience. But I’ve taken it as a learning and growing experience.
In addition to our work with DHA, we have managed to generate additional income for the enterprise through promotion, attending technical trainings to update our knowledge and skills, identifying agents to link us to marketing opportunities, and participating in a national IT competition. Our hope is to expand our enterprise and provide job opportunities for many other youths.