At the Sorenson Impact Foundation, like any good impact investor, we measure and track the impact that our portfolio companies are having on the greater good. We also track the impact that our investment dollars are making on the companies we invest in and how that money is used to advance their good work. Typically we have to wait at least a month before we see our first impact report; yet for the deal we closed on last week in Kenya, we didn’t even have to wait one day.
This summer, SIF’s investment committee approved an investment into Flare, a Kenyan emergency response company that has been reducing emergency ambulance response rates from 45 minutes to only 8 minutes or less in the Nairobi area. As an investor looking for innovative, scalable solutions for underserved communities, Flare was a perfect investment for us.
So, when we received an email from our team less than 24 hours after closing titled “Flare Incident”, we were nervous. The startling subject line, however, in fact included a write-up of an example of impact that is exactly why we invest in this space.
One of our Sorenson Fellows, Mitchell Wulfram, living in Nairobi had been in a car accident: he and his friends were rear-ended by a motorcycle at full speed. Mitchell and his friends were o.k., but the motorcyclist who had hit their car was in critical condition. The motorcyclist was unconscious, having hit them without a helmet or any protective clothing. Fortunately, Mitchell was well-acquainted with a solution for this situation. Having worked on the Flare due diligence, Mitchell immediately called the number to dispatch an ambulance. Upon traveling to Nairobi for his summer engagement, he had subscribed to the Rescue.co service, which is only ~$2/month to access the equivalent of 911 in Nairobi.
Mitchell describes the Flare team as emerging “as if on cue from traffic at full speed, and spun its tires to pull a U-turn in the middle of the road.” He continued that “ two men quickly jumped out of the ambulance, a driver and EMT, and without speaking a word helped us load the driver onto a stretcher, and spun off into traffic.”
The man was taken to a nearby hospital and Mitchell received a call several days later that he was still in the ICU but that his life had been saved by the quick response from Flare. The hospital indicated that his critical condition would have been fatal had he not received treatment as fast as he did.
So, within 24 hours of investment, we’re proud that our newest portfolio company, Flare is making one of the largest impacts possible – saving lives. This example, albeit proverbially close to home for us, is what the team at Flare does every day and we are proud to partner with them!
Based in Nairobi, Flare is like Uber for ambulances. Members pay $24 per year and receive a private 911 number to call when they need help. Much like our 911, the company responds to any call whether it comes from a member or not. The company partners with private and hospital-owned ambulances and pays them to respond to calls. A live map of emergency calls and ambulance locations is used to get EMTs and first responders to emergencies fast. This reduces emergency response times and increases patient survival. Mitchell had interviewed ambulance drivers and emergency room nurses on the ground Nairobi in early June to learn about the problems Flare is solving for their partners and was proud to see their work in action.