CASE IN POINT | EndlessLife
by Leigh Schaller
EndlessLife a Glimpse into the Future of Health Care
With its innovative business model and inspirational leadership, a new company is giving health care the boost into the 21st century that often-frustrated consumers badly desire.
Making it to the top has never been easy. Despite achieving key milestones in business, for many entrepreneurs, being successful involves the willingness to make a substantial and deeply personal sacrifice.
Ascending the corporate ladder and, at the same time, being there for all those priceless family moments, seems impossible. Consequently, many titans of business make the heartbreaking choice to forgo time with family and opt to pursue the long-term goal of creating a financial legacy for their families.
Caroline Mbi-njifor, the CEO of EndlessLife Group, is every bit as ambitious and successful as other business leaders, yet she steadfastly refuses to make this heart-wrenching sacrifice. Married and a proud mother of two girls, family comes first.
“My passion really is for family and making sure that families have access to good social services and health care,” says Caroline. Her desire has led her to revive the old concept of doctors who used to make house calls and drag it into the 21st century.
In an age where everything from food to books and toilet paper is already conveniently delivered to your home, the lack of at-home health care is a predicament that Caroline is all too familiar with.
“I used to travel for 70% of my work, and once I forgot to vaccinate my child. I was in the US and I remembered thinking, ‘Oh my word, my daughter turned five and I missed her vaccination’. There was no one I could call. I had no idea if, in South Africa, there was a nurse who could come out to my house, as this wasn’t an available option.”
The idea of her business life leading to a compromise in care for her family did not sit well with Caroline. Later, when she witnessed a more advanced health-care system at work, she knew she had to bring the concept to Africa.
“My sister-in-law, who lives in Denmark, had a stroke days after giving birth to her child. We went over to take care of her and experienced phenomenal care that I have not seen anywhere in Africa. At 11 am, a physiotherapist would come and help my sister-in-law. Later, an occupational therapist would come over, then a driver came to take her to the gym. They even sent a social worker to help her connect with her baby.” In effect, a deeply personal experience triggered a professional initiative that has since come to life.
EndlessLife provides medical concierge; all the at-home health and social care services that you or a loved one may need. “The best way to think of it is as an integrated primary health care centre at home,” explains Caroline.
The advantages? EndlessLife provides comprehensive health and social care services to families, employees, businesses and other care centres in need of tailored private health and social care solutions. It also provides a 24 hour solution to clients by meeting their health and social services needs at the comfort of their home or anywhere the need arises. Services offered include Home Health and Social Care Services, Hospital to Home Care, Workplace Programmes and Health Outreach Programmes. Sceptics may argue that people could contact nurses and other health-care professionals who do house calls themselves and thus skip the need for a company such as EndlessLife, but that would also mean missing out on the rigorous quality-assurance measures EndlessLife provides.
Besides doing thorough background checks on all health-care providers, the company focuses extensively on training its service providers in soft skills. “It’s mandatory that health-care providers attend a training session. We don’t train them in clinical skills, because we believe they are qualified – they are all affiliated to various professional bodies. But what we do is train service providers in soft skills. These include accountability, self-leadership, and customer satisfaction.”
Caroline believes that, besides having a viable business idea and good structures in place, her life experiences ensure the success of EndlessLife. Her first job, as a young social worker serving vulnerable families and children during the peak of South Africa’s devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic, gave her grounding in compassion and leadership skills.
“When I started, I was 22. I was dealing with much older women who were highly disadvantaged, as well as their children. Experiencing family suffering from the parents’ view, and from the children’s view at that age, taught me how to navigate, counsel, and grow my own emotions.
Having upskilled academically as well, Caroline progressed in her career. She is a trained Director and a member of the Institute of Directors Southern Africa. She holds an MBA in Health Care management and Policy analysis from Regent Business School. With over 15 years of experience in management and executive level positions, her expertise ranges from good governance in state owned entities in more than 10 African countries to private and public Health Management. Caroline has also played a pivotal role in policy development on HIV/AIDS and Mother and Child mortality in many countries which include South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe. Her contribution in the public and the private sectors has led her to receive various accolades including the Sirdar Governance Group Award for the INED director of the year 2013 for Avalanche avoidance. Such an accomplished background gave Caroline the ideal experience for starting an innovative company in a thriving sector.
Health care is the biggest industry in the world and EndlessLife looks set to capitalise on two major issues identified in the 2013 Deloitte Report on global health care, namely improving access to health care (by bringing it to your doorstep) and by supplying a service to an increasingly ageing population.
Starting a business, especially in a competitive market, is never easy. But Caroline believes that EndlessLife’s first three years have gone astoundingly well and she attributes their success to God’s grace a solid management team, prayers and diligent planning. EndlessLife has succeeded in acquiring contracts with some of the biggest medical aid providers in South Africa positioning it well for greater achievements in and beyond South Africa.
Where to from here? Endless Life’s immediate goal is to capture as much market share as possible. It already operates in seven provinces in South Africa, but plans to have a presence in all nine. However, being big in South Africa is too small an ambition and plans to expand into Africa are well underway with the initial phase of getting into West Africa on course through EndlessLife International now fully incorporated in Nigeria.
Although only time will tell if a fully-fledged expansion into the entire African continent will be successful, anyone who has met Caroline would be reluctant to doubt the company’s ability to succeed. The need for health that cares and the dreams of a woman driven by family values and a bright vision to ‘keep families together for longer’, know no limits.