Invest In Ecosystems, Not Apps, With Rahul Mullick And The Gates Foundation

Aid, Evolved
Invest In Ecosystems, Not Apps, With Rahul Mullick And The Gates Foundation
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After rising to the top of the global consulting industry, Rahul Mullick joined the Gates Foundation to oversee some of their most ambitious work in digital and technology. Today we look back on what Rahul learned and how his investment strategy evolved in the 7 years he spent with the Gates Foundation. 

We discuss Rahul’s ground-breaking work to tackle tuberculosis (TB) in India, the country with the highest TB burden in the world. This resulted in the development of the largest TB platform in India providing continuity of care to patients across public and private hospitals. We also dive into Rahul’s effort to combat malnutrition in India, which houses a third of the world’s malnourished children, and his role in equipping hundreds of thousands of India’s community-based nutrition workers with a smartphone app. Rahul shares the pressure, challenges, and opportunity that come with scaling to one of the largest health worker programs in the world. Reflecting on what he’s learned, he shares how his investment strategy has evolved over the years from investing in specific technology products towards building a digital innovation ecosystem for India.

Show Notes

  • The Gates Foundation is the second largest charitable foundation in the world. It is credited with challenging many aspects of how aid is delivered, for example, through the use of business techniques or innovative technologies.
  • Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Court (DOTS) is the WHO-recommended treatment for tuberculosis (TB). It requires daily, consistent intake of a steady regiment of drugs. This is one of the greatest challenges of delivering DOTS in resource-poor settings, where individuals have irregular access to health facilities.
  • Angandwadi Workers are the largest community health worker program in the lower-middle and low-income world. They run Anganwadi centers providing basic nutrition and healthcare to children under 6.
  • Dimagi is a social enterprise that provides digital solutions to support human health and well-being. It is through Dimagi’s work in India that Rahul and our host Rowena first met.
  • 99Dots is a low-cost, digitally-enabled innovation to help people in consistently taking their TB medication. It was conceived by Andrew Cross and MacArthur “Genius”, Bill Theis. It has experienced massive adoption and uptake in sites across India. Today it is supported by Everwell Health Solutions.
  • Silicon Valley is an American TV show that parodies startup life in California’s Silicon Valley. It tackles several great examples of how success creates its own challenges.
  • First, Break All The Rules: is Rahul’s recommended reading. It provides management guidance based on findings from a Gallup study of 80,000 managers. Rahul states, “I typically would never recommend a management book to anybody… [but these] principles have more or less been on the mark.”

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