Safewheel: Bringing healthcare on three wheels to Rural Bangladesh
According to Safewheel’s website, “Safewheel Limited provides affordable ambulance and doorstep medical services to rural people.” This startup was founded in November 2018 and since then it has reached 140+ villages.
It happens to be in Bangladesh where the harsh reality is, there is only 1 ambulance available for every 88,000 people. The problem is more acute in rural areas where lack of infrastructure prevents people from accessing basic healthcare needs. Safewheel Limited is working to solve this exact problem. Safewheel Limited transformed the local three-wheeler autorickshaws (Tomtoms) into ambulances.
And right now, the founders are one step closer towards achieving their dreams. Alongside providing this emergency transportation service, Safewheel Limited is also providing door to door emergency healthcare to rural people.
The Rural Scenario
During the pilot phase, I went to Mahadevpur, Naogaon with the CEO, Rafiq Islam, and the Chief of Business Development, Faysal Islam.
The situation was heartbreaking.
People mistakenly thought we were doctors and told us about their problems when we went to inform them about the ambulance service.
Rural people usually find themselves helpless in any emergency medical situation. They also lack basic health-related knowledge. Keeping this in mind, Safewheel also visits schools and other institutions in order to teach people more about preparedness in emergency medical situations.
Challenges of Safewheel
One of the biggest challenges of this startup is the solvency of the rural people.
Some of the patients are not solvent enough to pay the small fee that Safewheel is charging for their services. To deal with the issue, Safewheel has made a general fund to cover the cost incurred by patients who cannot afford any ambulance expenses.
“World changing idea! Revolutionary innovation!! Impactful business!!” they say. But I think, it’s one of the basic rights of human beings, Emergency Medical Service. Simply put, it’s a necessity. If we become successful, hopefully thousands of lives will be saved by the grace of Almighty. But to be a successful company we need to find out our own problem, weaknesses and work on those. End of the day, it’s all about teamwork. I am grateful to those people, who gave their time and effort selflessly in Naogaon, on our pilot project.”Mr. Anas H Makkhi who is the Chief of Operations of Safewheel Limited showed the vision of the startup
About Safewheel’s Journey in Hult Prize 2019
Hult Prize is the largest startup accelerator program in the world. This year around 200,000 teams participated in this challenge and after a rigorous selection process, six teams were selected as finalists.
Hult Prize 2019 started with an on-campus round. This year the challenge was to create such a startup that would create 10,000 jobs in the next decade.
Safewheel Limited (back then Team Blue Ribbon) passed the on-campus round from Bangladesh University Professionals on November 2, 2018.
After that, they went to Shanghai for the regional round. And on 23rd July 2019, they became the regional champion. At this point, they were onto the top 40 teams of Hult Prize 2019.
After the regional round came the real challenge. Now they had to bring their idea into life. They had to run a pilot project as a prerequisite of the Hult Prize 2019 accelerator program. After 40 days of the accelerator program in the Hult Castle, United Kingdom, they became one of the top 6 teams of this challenge. Though Safewheel Limited couldn’t become the winner this year, they were the first Bangladeshi team to become the finalists.