Big wins for Kena Health at MTN app awards

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 10 Nov 2023
From left: Kena Health’s Marilyn Dutlow, Pheello Maboea, and founder and CEO Saul Kornik.
From left: Kena Health’s Marilyn Dutlow, Pheello Maboea, and founder and CEO Saul Kornik.

It’s great to build technology that fits into and improves people’s lives, says Pheello Maboea, CTO of Kena Health.

Maboea was commenting on the telemedicine platform’s wins at the MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

Kena Health was named 2023 MTN Business App of the Year and won the Best Health Solution accolade.

The winners and finalists were announced last night, during a gala event in Kramerville, Sandton.

Still in disbelief about Kena’s win, Maboea said: “This win is kind of unexpected…we put in all this work − we have a great team behind us – everybody working to make sure that this vision is realised, so to be recognised like this is actually quite amazing.

“It’s fulfilling and I think it’s going to energise the team and rally the guys to make sure we reach our next milestone.”

Kena Health’s medical app was launched in March last year. The app offers on-demand and scheduled consultations with nurses, general practitioners and mental health professionals.

For R185 per consultation, patients can access a range of healthcare services, including medical advice, diagnoses, prescriptions, sick notes and referrals to a specialist, via voice, text, or video.

Since the launch, the health-tech firm’s app has recorded over 200 000 downloads, with Maboea saying the platform’s repeat usage rate is “great”.

“If we continue on this trajectory, we will be able to serve the millions of people in South Africa that we are aiming to serve. It’s a goal and a challenge that we relish.”

In June, Kena Health closed $2 million (R39 million) seed extension funding from Old Mutual-backed innovation subsidiary NEXT176. A further $100 000 (R1.9 million) was secured from US-based early-stage investor Tofino Capital.

At the time, Kena said the investment would help to extend its reach from direct-to-consumer (B2C), to include business-to-business (B2B) segments.

Maboea commented that the funding Kena Health is able to raise is a testament to finding the right partners that believe in what it is doing and wanting to build with the firm. “B2C is cool and interesting, but it’s also tough. The main motive of expanding to B2B is to make sure we can get those captive audiences.

“Employers and other businesses are looking for ways to add value to their employees’ lives in terms of the quality of care they are able to afford to them. We’ve noticed an opportunity there, in terms of partnering with these organisations that also give us access to markets that would otherwise be hard to get to.

“For people to discover you in the channels that are predominant is a challenge. We want to meet people where they are and one of those points of call is in their organised communities, whether it be churches, employer relationships, etc, giving us access to a vast majority.”

The Kena Health app is available for download from the App Store and Google Play Store.

From left: MTN Business’sK holofelo Magagane, and Kena Health’s Marilyn Dutlow, Pheello Maboea and Saul Kornik.
From left: MTN Business’sK holofelo Magagane, and Kena Health’s Marilyn Dutlow, Pheello Maboea and Saul Kornik.

Now in its 12th year, the annual MTN Business App of the Year Awards seek to recognise local coding and app development talent.

This year’s contest demonstrated the resilience and innovative spirit of SA’s app developers, who have fought through tough economic times, an intensely competitive market and pressure on available skills, to present the country with apps that enhance the services offered by some business sectors, says MTN.

Kholofelo Magagane, head of marketing at MTN Business, says the awards demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation is alive and well.

“The local economy is facing numerous challenges and has not fully emerged from the uncertainty and hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Therefore, the decision to embark on a journey of entrepreneurship displays the determination of local app developers, who have opted to use their skills to create solutions that provide opportunities to enrich the lives of many and contribute to economic growth,” says Magagane.

“In entering the MTN Business App of the Year Awards, the winners of the various categories had to navigate a challenging environment, innovate and offer unique value to users. To succeed, they had to create effective and user-friendly applications.”

Magagane concludes: “Without exception, this year’s winners have shown how technology can help transform traditional business models, streamline operations and enhance productivity. By harnessing technology to address critical business and societal challenges, they will inspire others to adapt, evolve and thrive in a rapidly-changing environment.”

The other category winners are:

Best Consumer Solution: Discovery Bank

Best Enterprise Solution: Medsol Breast AI

Best Hackathon Solution: Future DX − Thutofy

Best Gaming Solution: Fruit-Full 3

Best Agricultural Solution: Broiler Operations Management

Best Educational Solution: Angula

Best Campus Cup Solution: CPF Method

Best Breakthrough Developer: University Qualifications

People’s Choice Award: TymeBank

Best Financial Solution: iKhokha

Most Innovative Solution: Eyerus

Best Huawei App Gallery Category: Pick n Pay ASAP!