About the program

Across the world, many individuals and communities lack access to high-quality and affordable healthcare, caused by the remoteness of their community, lack of means to pay for healthcare support, conflict, or other causes. Recognizing the need to increase healthcare access for disadvantaged communities, social entrepreneurs are creating new and visionary solutions to provide suitable healthcare services and, in certain cases, eventually even transform healthcare systems to increase the healthcare available to people and communities.

The Philips Foundation and Ashoka cooperated in a multi-year program from 2016-2021 to accelerate access to healthcare around the world by connecting social entrepreneurship with industry skills and exploring collaborations between the Philips Foundation and Ashoka Fellows. The program was rooted in Philips Foundation's longstanding commitment to increasing healthcare access for disadvantaged communities through innovation. Ashoka's network of leading social entrepreneurs, in turn, advanced health equality with new solutions and approaches.

“Becoming an Ashoka Fellow was such an amazing opportunity for me. In 2019 we distributed about 5,000 delivery kits, in 2020 we were able to distribute 25,000 delivery kits. It has had such a huge impact on our journey”. Muzalema Mwanza, Safe Motherhood Alliance, Zambia

Together we have nurtured a global community of 44 social entrepreneurs. At a minimum, each entrepreneur participated in one program activity to further establish and grow their innovation’s impact. With several, a deeper collaboration was established, where Fellows partook in multiple or all programs offered by the AHA partnership. In 2020, our partnership enabled the Fellows to provide new or enhanced access to healthcare to more than 36 million individuals and improved the lives of more than 5 million people. 

Ashoka Fellows creating a more equitable health ecosystem

Recognizing un(der)served groups and spotting the systemic bottlenecks which prevent them from obtaining care is critical to expanding health access. We elected 14 new Ashoka Fellows, who have spotted these bottlenecks in health and are implementing targeted solutions to address them. Regular community calls have provided a safe space for Fellows to gain peer-to-peer support and learn about each other’s work. 

Developing  impact scaling  strategies to increase the reach of their work

Fellows that successfully piloted their innovations joined the four-month Globalizer program, Ashoka’s flagship accelerator, to scale their impact. 

Within our program, we engaged 125  experts in global health across the business, government, and citizen sectors to help Ashoka Fellows establish a solid strategy for growth. More than 150 people visited the Globalizer summits. To this day, participating Fellows are implementing the strategies that were developed during this program.

Establishing meaningful collaborations and connections  to  advance  health  access  

Throughout our program, we explored how Philips Foundation and Ashoka Fellows, along with their respective networks, can meaningfully collaborate to address health care barriers in disadvantaged communities.

Map of Accelerating Healthcare Access Fellow cohort

Learnings on successful collaboration models

Over the years, the AHA! program has underscored that systemic impact is best achieved when merging the system-changing solutions of Ashoka Fellows with the business expertise and resources of Philips Foundation, Royal Philips, and their network. However, our partnership has also made clear that just bringing people together is not enough. Multi-stakeholder collaborations produce complexities that require serious (long-term) commitments. Collaborators must come to the table as experts and equals, embrace each other’s differences, and invest adequate time and resources to deepen relationships if they are to forge a powerful impact-focused collaboration. The results of that commitment are win-win partnerships that utilize creative solutions to expand access to healthcare.

Collaborating during Covid-19

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic transformed our way of life and provided unique challenges in the healthcare sector. Social entrepreneurs have proven to be first responders to the Covid-19 crisis but have also been seriously challenged in growing or even just continuing their work. They have had to adapt quickly to digitization and other ways of organizing their work. As part of the AHA! program in 2020, Philips Foundation became an essential network activator to find the expertise needed to facilitate this transition.

Fundación Nuestros Hijos (FNH): Continuing care during Covid-19

Fundación Nuestros Hijos of Ashoka Fellow Marcela Zubieta has been a childhood cancer pioneer in Chile for more than 29 years with a mission is to give each child access to treatment, recovery, and reintegration into society.

When Covid-19 hit, FNH struggled to transport their immunocompromised children to their treatment center due to the need for additional safety measures. They also faced roadblocks to access specialized medications for children receiving care at home. Finally, the pandemic forced FNH to cancel their annual fundraising event which was a significant revenue generator for the organization. FNH needed to close their funding gap and add digital services as well as safe transport services.

Thanks to support from volunteer advisors organized by the partnership, FNH received a grant from the Philips Foundation allowing the organization to continue offering safe transportation to patients and set up telehealth rehabilitation for patients who could not make it to the FNH center. In addition, connections with the local Royal Philips team have paved the way for a longer-term collaboration between Royal Philips and FNH aiming to expand the work into other areas in Chile as well as across Latin America.

Women with car used for patient transportation

We are really proud to support such an impactful organization deal with the pandemic and be able to continue providing such great care for vulnerable children with cancer. We are proud to have pivoted the project to two areas of high impact: safe transfer and telerehabilitation.

Louis Atallah
Associate Lead - Health Data Science and AI, Royal Philips
Louis Atallah

I would like to emphasize how important and productive this network has been. I am so grateful for all we learned for the sake of children suffering from cancer in Latin America. There is much to be learned, so many connections to be made and so many inspiring stories to learn from.

Marcela Zubieta
Founder, Fundación Nuestros Hijos, Chile

The level of trust in the collaboration was unique. They were able to go where we wanted to go but also able to push us where we needed to be pushed. This became our north star of what quality collaboration could be. We have grown 3 times over since starting the Globalizer program.

Nneka Mobisson
Founder, mDoc, Ashoka Fellow
Nneka Mobisson

I find it incredibly powerful how the national government, private investors and the business community work together to take innovation in developing countries to a higher level. This is how we initiate truly sustainable change.

Joost van Engen
Founder, Healthy Entrepreneurs, Ashoka Fellow
Joost van Engen Headshot

We did over 50,000 home visits, enabling us to reach more women and children.  We now have evidence that the CheckUps model is very competitive in the market and is a win-win for CheckUps and Philip Foundation.

Moka Lantum
Founder, Sagitarix Ltd, Ashoka Fellow
Moka Hoffman Lantum