Entrepreneur: Roberta Morlin, women’s health app developer

Welcome,

Roberta Morlin is developing an app that will be able to provide direct medical consultation for women in remote PNG. She explains to Business Advantage PNG how it would work and the challenges of being a young entrepreneur in PNG.

Bobbie Morlin

App developer Roberta Morlin

Roberta says she decided to help improve the health of Papua New Guinea’s female population using digital technology.

‘As we know, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and it mainly affects women in third world or low income countries.’

She says contributing factors in PNG include: cultural barriers or taboos, sensitivity issues—wherein women are embarrassed to provide accurate information to nurses or doctors—and, especially, a lack of awareness.

Fe’mahealth

‘So my concept is an app, called Fe’mahealth [pronounced Fee-mah-health], which will allow women to openly discuss or consult a doctor for medical advice online, instantly, about their wellbeing.

‘It’s a virtual online medical consultation, connecting doctors and patients. Although there are challenges ahead with this, it is beautiful to see how I can tweak this product to provide support for potential users—women.

‘It is scaleable. It would certainly target women in other Pacific countries like Fiji.’

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‘It is better to ask a doctor instantly, rather than ignore possible symptoms that lead to cervical, breast or ovarian cancer. At present, we are also looking at ways to reach out to women in rural areas who do not have smartphones.’

Morlin also sees Fe’mahealth being used across the region.

‘I think it could easily be used throughout the Pacific. It is scaleable. It would certainly target women in other Pacific countries like Fiji.’

Entrepreneurialism

Morlin is currently in the second phase of development of her app. She has received assistance from the Kumul Gamechangers (KGC) initiative, which is a project initiated and implemented by the Kumul Foundation, funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations Development Program and the PNG Business Council. A lot of people in the business community volunteer time through the Kumul Foundation to assist this project, says Chairman, Anthony Smare.  

Morlin says the competition gave her a ‘great platform to network and build relationships.’ The main challenge, she says, has been to change her mindset.

Cancer treatment often too late in remote areas of PNG. Credit: ABC

Cancer treatment is often too late in remote areas of PNG. Credit: ABC

‘Entrepreneurship is a journey and along the way you have to learn. What you initially thought might work and the reality might turn out different. You have to be able to change your thinking and keep pushing.

‘Not every door will be opened for you, but you have to have your values and the ability to withstand difficulties,’ she says.

Born in Port Moresby, Morlin graduated from Divine Word University in 2012 with a Bachelor in Arts, majoring in International Relations. She earned an Academic Excellence in Research award.

‘I am ambitious and I work hard to ensure there is a certain level of success I achieve. I embrace my failures and learn from them,’ she says.

New perspective

The next step for Morlin is to find a funding source in order to establish the business. She may get further assistance from the Kumul Gamechangers program, which is investigating the possibility of creating a facility for seed capital to incubate start-ups.

‘I have certainly learned that working on a social enterprise concept takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and commitment. I also have learned to see bigger problems as opportunities.’

Fe’mahealth is one of two apps Morlin is developing.

The other is ‘Gypsyforce’, a tool for students, undergraduates and graduates to secure a casual or permanent job.

About Kumul GameChangers

Kumul GameChangersThe Kumul GameChangers initiative, launched by UNDP with the support from Australian Government in 2014, is aligned to the National Government’s SME Policy.

The second phase of the program is designed to mobilise and amplify the PNG entrepreneurial spirit.

‘The project—the first of its kind in Papua New Guinea—received more than 680 ideas, of which the 42 best ideas were shortlisted,’ UNDP spokesman, Assel Tleof, tells Business Advantage PNG. Twelve made it to the finals.

‘Selected entrepreneurs underwent training with Silicon Valley experts and attended a bootcamp on how to build a start-up. This helped them to learn the basics of start-up, the build and prototype of their ideas. They also had to try pitching and fundraising approaches.’

Comments

  1. I was in my third year and she was my senior (PNGIR). She was one of the role model to us the juniors, now I can see why.
    Thumbs up

  2. Leonard says

    Roberta is a very down to earth person and with the app she is developing, I think it will do good for a lot of our woman folks in the country and even touch the pacific. She needs all the support she can get to launch this app.
    I salute you my sister…

  3. John Joseph says

    I salute this young woman for such a wonderful and worthwhile initiative. Please she need everyone’s support.

  4. Lydia Kawi says

    I think this initiative is very vital and helpful.This MP’s should look into such and fund them

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