From the lab to the labyrinth
To try and find greater meaning for her work, this scientist-entrepreneur took a path that took her to the grassroots, quiet literally
Dr Swati Subodh had been working as a full time scientist in the field of biotechnology and genomics for nearly ten years when she decided to take a path which not many of her peers would even consider. From studying human DNA in a cool state-of-the art genomics lab in the capital city to the sweltering allies of village aanganwadis, the path has been anything but straight forward.
Swati is passionate about personalized healthcare solutions using technology and digital platforms. As a scientist she had been looking for bigger meaning to her bench work where results are translated faster for public welfare. "The problem and their solution are generally not far away, but we need to think beyond our silos to see it" says Swati. Although deeply passionate about her research, she knew she had to take an unconventional approach to make her work more fulfilling. She and her brother, Manav, launched the healthcare initiative of their startup, 1 Million for 1 Billion (1M1B) in early 2016. With Swati's expertise in healthcare and Manav's expertise in entrepreneurship education and ecosystems, a social entrepreneurship model developed with partners like UC Berkeley, McKinsey Social Initiatives, UN Habitat, CARE Hospitals and many more joining in. "It was a tough call, but I am glad I took it. The scope of impacting lives directly is immense. My objectives are the same, just that my lab address has changed" explains Swati with a smile. Beyond the confines of a traditional lab now her lab has undoubtedly taken a broader dimension.
Through 1M1B's healthcare initiatives, many grassroot healthcare providers are being connected to big technology and healthcare giants to create sustainable entrepreneurship models which are catalyzing quality healthcare delivery in the community while at the same time engaging communities directly in running the centres, thereby creating employability. "We are microaccelerators for grassroot entrepreneurs by giving them skill training and access to technologies and then helping them launch their own microenterprise in this area" explains Swati. She also points that the data collected through these enterprises give better assessment of healthcare needs of the area and prospective interventional aspects, this is valuable for governments; and corporate eager to access these markets. "We partner with these entities to provide our know-how and execution pipeline to enable last mile access" she adds. Swati reveals that the next in line is the 'direct-to-home healthcare delivery' model which will be anchored by these centres, thereby enhancing access and purpose.
In India, 1M1B is currently working in Andhra Pradesh and Uttrakhand. "We recently showcased our healthcare model to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Shri Chandrababu Naidu, and are now expanding to more villages of the state as part of the India Smart Village Initiative" informs Swati .
When she is not working on rural healthcare projects, Swati consults for academia and hospitals, delivers talks and workshops, mentors millenials, or can be found writing articles and columns for various journals and magazines. "Its important to stay true to your objectives and be open to different ways of achieving them. Sometimes the way forward emerges from the most unlikely places" concludes Swati.
For more information: www.linkedin.com/swatisubodh; www.activate1m1b.org