A couple of years ago, Chase Adam (RPCV Costa Rica 2009 - 2011) was sitting on a bus in Talamanca when a woman stepped on board with a red folder and a small bag, and asked everyone for a donation to fund her son’s medical treatment. Surprisingly, her bag was quickly bursting with money. At that moment, Chase had an epiphany: “If he could somehow connect this woman with his friends and family back home, she would have her son’s medical treatment funded within the day.”
Watsi is the world’s first peer-to-peer, online fundraising platform for low cost, high impact healthcare treatments in the developing world. What began as an idea has now blossomed into a team of 10 people (five of us being Costa Rica RPCVs), dedicated to making this a reality. I first met Chase and the other Watsi RPCVs when serving as the Program Coordinator in my third year of service. I knew from observing them pre-service training that these individuals have both big ideas and the passion needed to bring those ideas to fruition. When learning about Watsi back in September of last year, I immediately wanted to get involved and was a member of the team within a week.
Since last September, we have formed a comprehensive business plan, developed a social media marketing strategy, and established a strong relationship with Watsi’s first medical partner, Nyaya Health, in rural Nepal. Most recently, we were a finalist at the Global Social Venture Competition at UC Berkeley, placing in the top 16 out of 600 entrants worldwide. The other teams were incredible and are implementing some game-changing ideas, but Watsi won the People’s Choice award. This showed us that even before launching the website, people love the idea and are truly excited to help the one billion people around the world who are unable to afford healthcare.
Currently, we are on the brink of attaining our 501c3, or non-profit legal status, as well as launching the Pilot version of the website. Over the next few months, we will be working out the bugs in both the pilot platform and the business model while simultaneously preparing a fully scalable version of the website that will allow donors to quickly fund a very large number of medical treatments around the world.
So how can you get involved? Go to watsi.org to sign up on our launch page, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and our Blog, and in a few months, become a part of something great when the fully functional version of the website is live!
Watsi Pitch Video for the 2012 Global Social Venture Competition. Are you in? Visit http://watsi.org/