Mother Being destigmatizes reproductive health to empower women
Nour Emam is a social media savvy doula, educator, and women’s health advocate with a cause: teaching women about reproductive health in a safe space that provides them with reliable information that empowers, debunks myths and raises awareness of health issues. mental related.
From this mission was born Mother Being, an online platform based in Cairo that offers courses and content to educate Arabic speaking women about their bodies on topics ranging from the menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, childbirth. , from postpartum care to sex education.
Presented in a conversational, accessible, entertaining and sometimes humorous way, the videos on social networks and the online courses presented on the Mother Being platform aim to shatter misconceptions, to break the stigma, to help women understand their rights. doctors, communicate effectively with their physicians, reduce the rates of unnecessary or forced Caesarean sections, and end obstetric violence.
“Our passion is to make reproductive and sexual health education very accessible and shameless for Arab or Arabic speaking women,” said Ms. Emam.
FemTech start-ups, which lie at the intersection of technology and women’s health, are increasingly seizing opportunities. The global market for technology targeting women is expected to reach $ 60 billion in 2027, more than triple the $ 18.75 billion in 2019, according to Emergen Research. The women’s health technology market is also attracting more investment from government and the private sector, especially in areas such as fertility, pregnancy, egg freezing, feminine hygiene products, and health care tools. medical diagnosis.
“It is certainly an underserved industry, especially in the Mena region, but it looks very promising for existing FemTech companies like us and for new ones that will emerge in the years to come,” Ms. Emam said.
Ms Emam created Mother Being as an Instagram account in January 2020 initially to advertise her services as a doula. But she quickly expanded the platform when she received a flood of questions from young women seeking to better understand the menstrual cycle and other topics.
The sequel to the account exploded amid the MeToo movement in Egypt which renewed outrage against sexual violence against women and prompted dozens of people who have been sexually harassed to break their silence and share their experiences online.
After being educated as a doula, Ms. Emam also trained as a sexual health educator as the scope of her business expanded.
“It’s a continuum, you can’t fight for birthrights and ignore the fact that most women have been subjected to sexual violence or female genital mutilation (FGM) and we have to speak through it. this continuum, ”she says.
Mother Being also discusses mental health issues that can arise from complications and misconceptions about reproductive and sexual health.
“We don’t just provide biological training, the work we do changes mindsets and we focus on the psychological side of physical issues,” Ms. Emam said. “We are talking about a 360 degree approach.”
One of these critical areas of support is for women who have undergone female genital mutilation. While awareness campaigns against the practice are important, the focus should also be on FGM survivors, Ms. Emam said.
“Nobody talks to women who have been there to hold their hands, to say ‘life is not over, there is help, there is reconstruction, there is therapy. ‘”Ms. Emam said. “This is the job we do. We always focus on the women who have been through it and how to help them get through it.”
For those who need more mental health support, Mother Being also provides referrals for more specialized assistance.
The discussions that Mother Being generates are relevant because women’s reproductive health has long been a taboo subject, often shrouded in mystery or shame. So the videos and the lessons help to eliminate misinformation and harmful practices, she says.
With women’s reproductive health issues often marginalized, Mother Being highlights widespread issues such as the Gender Pain Gap, where healthcare providers sometimes downplay women’s pain, which takes longer for them to be diagnosed. , says Ms. Imam.
“We solve this problem by giving women the information they need to defend themselves,” she says. “We put the power back where it should be, the patient has the power to ask questions.”
Mother Being offers three live online classes on childbirth, priced at 1,200 Egyptian pounds ($ 76), menstrual cycles (600 pounds) and a culturally sensitive course in female-centered sex education. (800 pounds).
“This is the kind of information we don’t get in school or in households,” says Emam. “These women, even though they are 30 years old, are stunned by this information.”
His main target audience, Ms Emam said, were women between the ages of 18 and 35, but he planned to add content on menopause, an underserved area of reproductive health, to address the full cycle of menstruation at menopause.
In the future, she plans to move the live lessons to a recorded format and expand them to create the Mena “benchmark” reproductive health school with new courses and specialist physicians.
The start-up currently has 1.4 million users on Instagram and TikTok, with 2,000 people paying for the courses, 30% of whom are loyal customers.
Demand for classes is high, in part thanks to Ms. Emam’s approach of injecting humor to normalize difficult topics. It has seen a 17% month-over-month increase in its user base and an average 44% increase in month-to-month revenue this year.
It also generates income through paid courses and paid partnerships with pharmaceutical and wellness companies that advertise their products through Mother Being’s social media awareness campaigns. Ties with brands make up about 50 percent of his monthly income.
The ambitious entrepreneur plans to grow the business further by creating an app and website where users can access free content, purchase on-demand courses, and “engage with a community of curious learners. “Ms. Emam said. To do this, it will hire more talents, particularly in marketing and business development.
The start-up will also strengthen its marketing in Saudi Arabia – its second market after Egypt – in the United Arab Emirates and in Jordan.
To better meet the needs of women, Mother Being will also eventually launch its own products in the women’s health and wellness segment.
Ms Emam hopes to meet those growth targets by 2022, if not sooner if she gets the right investment.
Mother Being will ultimately need total funding of up to $ 500,000 to transform the business, but has yet to secure the money and is looking for grants or donors rather than expensive investments, Ms. Emam said.
Mother Being is at the forefront of a shift to change the male-dominated discourse on women’s reproductive health, she says.
“We know we are in an ideal situation where we tick all the right boxes: impacting women’s health, the FemTech industry that is of global interest, we are creating tangible change and I see it when we meet people or let’s see it in the street with the comments we get and the courses sold every month, ”she says.
1. What other successful start-up would you like to have launched?
I totally admire KindBody in the US and hope I can venture into something similar in the Mena area.
2. What’s your next big dream?
I want to implement nationwide doula training and women-centered training in medical and nursing schools, requiring healthcare professionals to undergo this type of patient-centered care training. I also want to implement nationwide sex education classes for FGM victims and make sustainable menstrual products accessible to the Mena market.
3. What new skills did you acquire while launching your start-up?
Managing a team, leading a business (in terms of finances, strategy, planning), being comfortable in a leadership position, learning to be disappointed and feeling defeated and then use it to motivate me to keep going , realizing that it’s okay to ask for help and I can’t do everything.
4. How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business?
Covid-19 has been the reason we have been successful and why we are where we are (luckily). People were on the phone at home a lot and it was a great time to shine on social media and market the business. It was difficult, but it also worked in our favor.
5. How important are reproductive / sexual health services during this pandemic?
People are more aware and “awake” about their rights and eagerly search for information online. In an era when people were isolated and locked in their homes, social media and online education were a great place to connect and learn collectively.
6. What’s the next step for Mother Being?
We are building the Mena Region School of Reproductive and Sexual Health – a full-fledged technology platform where Arabic speakers can learn from health professionals and educators, interact with like-minded people, ask questions and buy the best products on the market for their reproduction. and sexual health needs.
I also like to believe that we will have implemented tangible changes in the medical sector by pushing for women-centered care and special courses within medical schools or nursing schools and in partnership with the ministry. of Health to hopefully change some policies regarding obstetric and gynecological violence. Doctors must be held accountable and women must be heard and believed.
8. What changes in health care can patients expect?
Women will be more aware and more literate, which will be reflected in the way doctors are able to work. Women will no longer be content with what they have been through over the years and will call doctors or switch to other doctors, which will force doctors to change their ways. Hopefully we will see a reduction in Caesarean section rates, a reduction in STD rates through sex education, but also have safe doctors to go to when you need to get checked out.
Company name / date of creation: Mother Being / Founded in January 2020 and incorporated in February 2021
Founder: Nour Emam
Based: Cairo, Egypt
Sector: FemTech, women’s health
Size: (employees / turnover) Six employees
Investment stage: pre-seed stage
Updated: October 3, 2021 5:00 a.m.