Medifund is a crowdfunding Web site that wants to increase the number of doctors in countries with a critical shortage by helping students afford medical tuition. So far, the site, which is based in the Philippines and launched last month at Startup Weekend Cebu, has successfully completed the campaign of second-year medical student Kristine Bless, who raised PHP 25,000 (about $577 USD).
Founder Jossy Onwude, who is currently a student at Southwestern University’s Mham College of Medicine in Cebu City, says he was inspired to create Medifund by Bless, who had trouble paying for her studies after her relatives ran into financial difficulty. The site is currently in public beta and has about 30 students waiting to sign up for fundraising campaigns when it goes live.
Onwude hopes Medifund will help increase the number of doctors in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and his native Nigeria. He also wants the site to enable more women to pursue medical training.
“There is a huge shortage of doctors in Asia and Africa,” says Onwude. “In the Philippines, for example, one doctor might have to work in several hospitals.”
Of course, every successful crowdfunding site needs to have quality-control measures in place. To make sure students signing up for donations on Medifund are serious about their goals, the site uses a gaming system that encourages students to add more details about their background, education and achievements. For example, badges are earned when they upload videos, transcripts, financial statements and school recommendations.
Over the next three months before its public launch, the Medifund team will further develop its platform, work with payment companies to ensure that donors in different countries can use the site and seek funding. Onwude is currently in talks with medical schools, NGOs and scholarship programs that are interested in partnering with Medifund.
Onwude says Medifund will take 5 percent of every fully funded project in order to keep the site running. As Medifund grows, Onwude says it will also launch a peer-to-peer education loan program and a reward system that allows donors to accumulate points for services like medical consultations.
The startup’s founding team represents a multitude of nationalities and come from tech, design and medical backgrounds. Before entering medical school, Onwude, an alumnus of Hack2Hatch entrepreneurship camp, gained startup experience as founder of UnliFM and Pinoyborn. Other members of Medifund’s team include Nanaho Nishiyama, previously a marketer at Nexseed and project manager at btrax, Michael Millan and Francis Alturas, designers at sym.ph, Dan Pantinople, designer and founder of Dee-oh! and Kent Astudillo, as well as sym.ph developers Fe Mojado and Richmond Wang.