Growing up in rural Kenya, Jacqueline Kiage always wanted to uplift the lives of her people. However, she was in her 40s before she realised how she wanted to go about it. Going by the adage ‘better late than never’, she finished her MBA in 2012 and then started her entrepreneurial journey with Innovation Eye Centre – Kisii Eye Hospital, the first of its kind in western Kenya, with all her savings. Now, with her husband by her side, she is impacting the lives of millions of Kenyans.
Forty-nine-year-old Jacqueline finished her bachelor’s in science and got married to her college sweetheart, Daniel Kiage, an eye doctor. Wanting to start up after her master’s, she initially set up a network to distribute solar lamps. However, after a few months, she decided to address the dire-yet-unmet healthcare needs of the community. Hence, she started the eye hospital along with her husband in the Kisii region, according to Standard Digital. In her words,
“We realised that people living in rural areas were unable to get specialised medical care because of their lack of finances. So we decided to come up with Innovation Eye Centre Limited, which is a private hospital that runs on a hybrid business model. It provides subsidised healthcare to poor residents, but at the same time seeks to be self-sufficient in terms of finances.”
The hospital, opened in 2013, provides free (where possible) or inexpensive treatment to people who cannot afford it while charging those who can. It caters to the needs of five million people living in the Kisii, Nyamira, Homa Bay, Bomet, Migori, Narok, and Kisumu counties. According to Lionesses of Africa, Jacqueline said,
“Our success is not measured and judged by the amount of profit or surplus we generate, but by the number of people who escape avoidable blindness in that particular year. Our objective is to work and contribute towards eliminating avoidable blindness in underserved and unreached remote populations in Kenya, especially those in the southwestern region of Kenya and beyond.”