Health care is free in Nicaragua. But the system is inadequate and lacked, staff and equipment and the waiting time to see a doctor is so long that people do not even try. Meanwhile, rising obesity threatens public health, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, among others.

Early detection of health hazards can make a big difference. But preventive health is not a government priority. But social entrepreneur Marcos Lacayo had an idea to make health check-ups available where people go every week – in supermarkets.

A.D. Estación Vital, a social enterprise that will be launching health kiosks in Lacayo in 2016 – similar to Photo Booth – at the entrance of the supermarkets, people can get free health check-ups and lifestyle and diet advice. Paying clients can do additional tests and make an appointment with a “health trainer”. Earlier this year, Estationional Vital offered an app that allows users to access similar services from their smartphones. These tests can also be used to diagnose obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions in people who cannot see a doctor.

The social enterprise is aimed at low-income people in urban areas. favelas (Tribes). About 60% of users are women between the ages of 30 and 50. In Latin America, women are traditionally the head of the household and often control grocery shopping, so teaching healthy eating habits to women means that the whole family will benefit. “Women are the boss,” Lakayo says. “They care about the health of their environment.”

Importantly, the social enterprise makes the connection between physical and mental health, which is often overlooked. “Mental health is prohibited,” says Lakayo. “Seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist here is considered a weakness.”

The relationship between mental and physical health is well established, and even users of Estacio Vital say they see a connection between traumatic experiences such as divorce and diet. Estationion Vital is a combination of diet and emotional solutions to help people change their eating habits. Its nutritionists are trained by psychologists, but the company calls them “coaches” rather than psychologists, so people are more interested in seeking their advice. “Everything is in vocabulary.

Efficiency in times of crisis

Being a social entrepreneur in Nicaragua is not easy. The area is not particularly helpful for entrepreneurs, with no tax relief for people starting their own business in Lacayo; Corruption is rampant. And When the enterprise was launched in 2016, Lacayo did not expect his country to enter two major challenges in less than five years.

A.D. In 2018, Nicaragua was plunged into political and social crisis. Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes with security forces in protest of President Jose Ortega’s resignation. The ensuing economic crisis paralyzed the country for months, so Estacion Vital had to stop operating. As things begin to improve, Lacayo, a partner in Ashoka, has set up three kiosks, attracting 2,700 monthly users each by the beginning of 2020. This is when Kovid-19 hits, and the kiosks have to close again.

Lacayo began working with the Philips Foundation in 2018 on the Ashoka Globalization Program. At the time of the outbreak, the Phillips Corporate Workforce Group said it had helped Laccayo rediscover the “post-covival status vitae.” “It really took us five months to get into marketing, programming, commodity marketing. It was a complete analysis … it opened my mind, ”Lakayo added.

In addition to the kiosks, this process enabled the app to develop the app, and the original loan (unspecified amount) helped the company recover. “They gave me financial support to start Stasi Vital again.”

Estación Vital has now reopened a kiosk in partnership with supermarket chain Walmart. While the kiosk is key to accessing the most vulnerable people without access to technology, the app now extends access to the state-of-the-art facility in Panama, Costa Rica and the southern United States. This will allow Estación Vital to inspect the market before the kiosk is opened, explains Lacayo. The social enterprise now has 12 employees, including a healthcare team, web developers, a marketing team and two kiosk staff.

Regardless of the barriers that entrepreneurs face there, Nicaragua continues to be a “great laboratory” to try new ideas because of the low cost of living, and it has the potential to start elsewhere, he says.

“I want to change the world,” Lakayo said. “The real impact I see is when people change their emotions and interact with themselves and their environment… and I think it’s a good way to do that. It’s cheap, it’s affordable and it has a big impact.