Veterinarians Go Mobile in Ethiopia
Tadele Tolosa’s ambulatory veterinary clinic saves farmers from their worst-case scenario, the loss of their cattle. A dairy cow or beef cow provides a large source of income or even a livelihood for a farmer. In Ethiopia where Tadele says “small scale dairy farms are flourishing,” his Veterinary Ambulatory Clinical Services provides emergency services to keep them flourishing. Healthy animals lead to healthy farms, boosting the local economy.
And this economy is deeply significant for Ethiopia. A May 2017 report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) states that “Ethiopia has the largest livestock population in Africa with 56.7 million cattle, including 12.65 million milking cows.” With a human population topping more than 100 million, a healthy cattle sector is vital for both internal consumption, and more robust exports. The UNDP report continues to state that “Ethiopia will face a hike in its import bills related to animal sourced foods and an increase in the price of livestock products,” if the sector is not capitalized upon.
Saving Cattle to Improve Lives
The Veterinary Ambulatory Clinical Services brings veterinary services to a farmer, at any time. Previously farmers had to arrange for expensive transportation of their cows to the vet’s office, and only during working hours. This is expensive and inefficient, and a sick cow can die in transit. Tadele solves this problem, saving farmers enormous amounts of money. Dr. Benti Gelalcha, the company’s lead epidemiologist, says “we want to fill that gap” of nighttime and weekends when farmers and their cows are most vulnerable.
Launching this sort of service requires Tadele to overcome trust hurdles in his community. Why would a local farmer change from his usual veterinary services to use an untested mobile vet clinic? Tadele admits that these informal, unlicensed vets are his stiffest competition. One mentor on his Award journey put it bluntly: “It is a truism that in any bottom of the pyramid community, trust is an overriding decision driver. Hence it would bode well for you if you leverage the existing channels and networks to drive, testify, and endorse your service offer in order to leverage their trust currency for your new offer to be readily embraced.”
On the heels of this, the mentors encouraged Tadele to launch the concept with a few farms to build trust and a reputation as one who provides superior service.
Building on the Good Idea with Award Funding
Not only does Veterinary Ambulatory Clinical Services provide 24/7 life-saving medicines and treatment to cows, but the business creates employment opportunities for veterinarians, drivers, and technicians. Winning the African Entrepreneurship Award means Tadele can purchase a truck, hire vets, and begin providing services to the 50 farmers in his immediate area, with the potential to scale all over Africa.