doctHERs first Asian company to be included in Fortune’s Impact 20

Exploring the potential of female healthcare providers, local digital health venture doctHERs has been selected for Fortune's coveted list of successful small businesses

By Farheen Abdullah

KARACHI: In 2015, Fortune Magazine introduced its Change the World list which was built on the premise that profit motive can inspire companies to tackle society’s unmet needs. Companies included in this annual list are relatively big, and battle-tested, proving how their profits can help the planet as well. In 2020, however, Fortune introduced its Impact 20 list which recognizes smaller businesses. Fortune’s Impact 20 is dedicated to recognizing newer companies that are already making people’s lives better while continuing to grow. A local organization to make it to the list is doctHERs, a digital health venture. It is also Asia’s first and only company to be included in Fortune’s Impact 20 list.

doctHERs uses a digital platform to match the underutilized capacity of female healthcare providers. Prior to doctHERs, these women were excluded from the health workforce due to sociocultural barriers, unsafe work environments or rigid health systems that have not adapted to the agile workforce needs of contemporary, working women. doctHERs’ unique business model provides access to affordable, quality healthcare in Pakistan to a subset of the ‘missing middle’ population that includes women and children, which is not served by conventional healthcare providers. Through its digital platform, patients get 24/7 access to leading specialists and consultants through the simple convenience of a smartphone.

Cofounder and Executive Chairman, Dr. Asher Hasan commented, “our inclusion in Fortune’s Impact 20 is a reflection of the deep commitment our employees, our female doctors and our female frontline health workers have towards promoting the health and wellbeing, gender equality and socioeconomic opportunity of women in the communities we serve across Pakistan. These frontline change-makers will continue to play an invaluable role in scaling impact across the emerging world.”

In 2020-21, doctHERs is expanding its collaboration with Unilever and FCDO to deploy an additional 100 ‘Guddi Baji’ frontline health workers across villages and towns in Sind, KPK and Punjab, Pakistan. These multipurpose, last-mile retailers also provide their communities with access to essential health products and hygiene supplies, digital financial services and linkages to a global network of over 2000 female doctors, therapists, nutritionists and licensed female pharmacists.

Fortune’s Impact 20 features startups that focus on key social and environmental issues as part of their business model and fulfill the criteria of having potential impact, business viability, innovation and leadership, and track record. The inclusion of doctHERs in the list builds on an exceptional year for the organization which has seen
a 230% increase in year-on-year profits, a rapidly growing roster of corporate clients, key executive appointments and market momentum in the white-hot areas of telemedicine, digital diagnostics and gender-inclusive, women’s entrepreneurship.

In 2019, doctHERs was also recognised by the Million Lives Club, a consortium of leading impact investors including DFID, USAID, Grand Challenges Canada, DFAT, GIZ and Global Innovation Fund, for impacting over one million lives across Pakistan.

By 2030, doctHERs aims to impact at least 30 million lives, while reintegrating over 30,000 healthcare providers including doctors, pharmacists, therapists, nutritionists, nurses, midwives and paramedics into the global health workforce (30 by ‘30).

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