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Celebrating DORIS MAYOLI a cancer survivor and the founder of Twakutukuza Trust. By WANGECI WANYEKI.

In September 2005, after being diagnosed with Stage IIIB cancer, Doris Mayoli, Founder of Twakutukuza Trust, and her family went through the motions – shock, denial, acceptance, searching for information, and getting treatment. After four rounds of chemotherapy, Doris had a lumpectomy to remove the tumor as well as some diseased lymph nodes in her armpit. She underwent five more sessions of chemo, 35 days of radiotherapy and 5
years of Tamoxifen.  The first obvious sign of the treatment was hair loss. Soon after, my nails, the palms of my hands, and the soles of my feet turned black.’ Doris narrates.

My skin tone also darkened during chemotherapy. Towards the end of the radiotherapy treatment, the skin around my scar (the site of the treatment) burned and blistered. I had to keep the skin moisturized and used a burn ointment to treat the burns. Sometimes my scars feel tight and I have to do a bit of stretching and massaging to keep the skin supple,’ she adds. Doris is now a proper skincare regime champion. ‘I am keen on moisturizing my entire body and using protective sunscreen. I drink a lot of water daily and I try to eat healthy by including greens and fruit in every meal.’Fourteen years later, Doris has turned her painful experience into purpose. Through Twakutukuza Trust which she founded, she provides emotional, physical, and financial support to people who are regime champions. ‘I am keen on moisturizing my entire body and using protective sunscreen.

I drink a lot of water daily and I try to eat healthy by including greens and fruit in every meal.’ Fourteen years later,  Doris has turned her painful experience into purpose. Through Twakutukuza Trust which she founded, she provides emotional, physical, and financial support to people who have been diagnosed with cancer. ‘We look for ways to make their journey easier through counseling, demystifying doctor reports, home or hospital visits, and organizing events to celebrate them.

Through the Twakutukuza Concerts, we raise funds that we contribute towards the treatment of those who cannot afford it.

In 2008, wife and mother Wambui Gitonga underwent a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. The surgery and subsequent chemo- and radiation therapy took a huge toll on her appearance, health and mood.
‘My nails turned black, I also had black hands and feet, even my tongue turned black,’ says Wambui.
‘I lost all my hair and eyebrows. The treatment also left the skin around my scars extremely dry and I needed moisturising every two hours to get rid of the patchy, white appearance.’
Wambui says she also felt extremely self-conscious about her scars and the hollow dent in her chest where her breast used to be. ‘I didn’t want to wear low-cut tops or a swimming costume. I felt incomplete.’ Fortunately, throughout her ordeal, her husband, David Gitonga Ndungu, stood by her. ‘At no point did my husband’s attitude or non-verbal language show that I was less of person. He stood by me through my darkest mood swings.’
In 2011, Wambui underwent reconstruction surgery, where doctors removed skin from her back shoulder
to create a flap on her chest for a prosthetic. It made Wambui much happier.

Today, 10 years after her first diagnosis, the mother of two boys is cancer free and beaming with health and vitality.
‘I’m proud of my scars,’ she says. ‘They are a reference point in my life, a visible landmark that I got through tough season in my life and came out stronger.’ She now chooses to do things differently. ‘I told myself that I won’t be careless, I will be carefree. I donot postpone the things I can say or do today. I need to tell of God’s
goodness in the land of the living.’ Wambui stays healthy by following a balanced diet and by exercising regularly. She plays golf twice a week
at Limuru Country Club. ‘This helps me to exercise in the fresh air and to de-stress. Golf is especially useful in exercising my arm where the lymph nodes were removed so that it doesn’t get lymphedema.’
Wambui, in partnership with the Women4Cancer organisation, holds regular golf tournaments in Kenya to raise funds for awareness, prevention and treatment of breast cancer. But she has even bigger dreams: she plans to travel theworld, win golfing tournaments and spread her positive message.
‘I want my life to make sense – especially for those going through a similar breast cancer experience,’ she says.
‘Don’t hold onto a breast that will kill you. If doctors recommend a mastectomy, do it so it does notspread. And remember — there is life after a mastectomy, and there is marriage after a mastectomy.’

L-R Peter Awin CoFounder & CEO Cow Tibe Ghana, Habtamu Abafoge Founder Simbona Africa, Ethiopia and Dr Robert Karanja CoFounder and Chief Innovation Officer at Villgro Africa, flip through the 7 Years of Impact investment Report highlighting Villgro’s input into 50 healthcare startups in Africa

Villgro Africa has made a significant impact on the healthcare sector in Kenya and Africa by investing in startups with the potential to create positive change and drive growth.

Opportunities for African and local investors to fund promising startups include a Biotech Innovation Hub and a $30 million fund

Nairobi 2 March 2023…Villgro Africa has invested over $2 million in 53 African healthcare startups over the last seven years. Now present in 10 African countries, and plans to set up a Biotech Innovation Hub, Villgro’s goal of transforming 30 million lives in Africa by 2030 is slowly becoming a reality.

According to Villgro’s 2015-2022 Impact Report which was launched at the 2023 Sankalp Africa Summit, over $2,146,401 committed since inception, have been well distributed to 53 health startups.  Out of these startups, 36 are Kenyan and have received the lion’s share of the incubator’s investments accounting for $1,317,087.

Ethiopia has also been a country to watch with Villgro investing in leading health startups such as  Simbona Africa, ($ 65,000 in 2017),  Kaffabio, BioTech $20,000, and  Lucy Enset  $ 20,000 in 2021.

A deliberate effort to ensure gender inclusion in Villgro’s impact investment work, saw Ghana’s women-led healthcare enterprises receive up to $50,000 invested as follows;  GAPhealth $20,000, Corporate Health Ghana  $15,000, MOCHcare $10,000 and Binyoh  for $5,000.

Wilfred Njagi, CEO and Co-Founder, Villgro Africa said, “Since inception, Villgro Africa has enabled access to healthcare to those at the bottom of the pyramid. In the past seven years, Villgro has steadily invested seed funding in social enterprises with homegrown solutions that solve Africa’s healthcare and lifestyle dilemmas. To date, these enterprises have generated revenues of over $5.2 million, generated 540 jobs and touched more than 2 million lives.”

“As we continue to scale, we are excited about the launch of a Biotech Innovation Hub that will create shared value by leveraging Africa’s genetic diversity to accelerate the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for the control and elimination of poverty-related diseases, rare diseases, neglected tropical diseases and NCDs,” explained Wilfred.

Dr. Robert Karanja, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Villgro Africa said that local manufacturing in the healthcare sector presents an opportunity for startups and investors.

“With Africa’s population projected to hit 1.6 Billion people by 2030, coupled with a rising middle-income population, and the emergence of the double burden of disease due to lifestyle related diseases, investment in the healthcare sector is a no-brainer. Going forward, local sources of funding will be needed. Reduced international funding would allow African governments, corporates, and others to invest in the start-up ecosystem.”

To kick-start local investment into the sector, Villgro Africa has set its eyes on launching an Incubator-Fund Platform in partnership with Jaza Rift Fund, with a target fund size of $30 million, aimed at supporting startups graduating from the incubator.

This decision is informed by reports that estimate Africa’s healthcare market will be worth $259 billion by 2030; Africa will present 14% of health and wellbeing business opportunities, only second to North America which currently holds 21% of the opportunities.

L-R Habtamu Abafoge Founder Simbona, Villgro Africa CoFounders Dr Robert Karanja Chief Innovation officer and Wilfred Njagi CEO JPG.JPG

Rob Beyer, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman added, “As we celebrate 7 years of growth and impact, we are incredibly grateful for a pipeline of quality companies, for funders who believe in the vision, our board members and mentors who freely give of their time and expertise and our clients who entrust their plans to our team. 

Appreciating Villgro Africa’s partners, Wilfred said, “While most of Villgro’s strength has been in increasing equitable access to health care, especially to the most vulnerable groups, it is through our partners that we can attribute the last seven years of success.”

He concluded, “We sincerely thank all our stakeholders and partners who have walked this journey of transforming Africa’s Healthcare sector with us; AUDA NEPAD, Johnson & Johnson Foundation, AI4D (funded by IDRC & SIDA), Boehringer Ingelheim Social Engagement (BISE), among others. With all the support we have garnered to-date, we strongly believe that Villgro Africa is well positioned in mobilizing startup capital and technical assistance to where it’s most needed – to transform 30 million lives in Africa by 2030.”

When Nyawira Kibuka got pregnant on her 30th birthday, she worked at a professional service firm where she was required to dress in a presentable manner as her job involved meeting clients and making presentations to executives. Her dilemma, like most pregnant women, will attest to, was finding appropriate clothing to wear to the office. With physiological changes during pregnancy, it can be quite a challenge stepping out in confidence as pregnancy clothes are next to impossible to get.

“A major designer store in town did not change their stock throughout my pregnancy. So, many pregnant women are forced to shop for maternity wear at the second-hand market, where sometimes, the clothes are faded, a button is missing, and it is an uphill task to get an outfit that fits.

“I asked myself, is this was what pregnant women have to go through? That sparked an idea of starting a business that would provide decent maternity wear for pregnant women. This would
go miles to reduce their frustration,” said Nyawira. After the birth of their daughter, Nyawira’s husband, Lucas Kibuka Maranga gave her Sh50,000 to purchase her first consignment
and mentored her on managing a business, including how to price the items. Nyawira then sent an SMS to all her phonebook contacts and within a short time the
stock had cleared.
“This was clear proof that there was a demand for trendy maternity wear and my husband, hence, coined the business name Trendy Mums,” she said.


In 2010, Nyawira registered the company with an aim of providing fashionable quality maternity wear for mums who wanted to remain trendy during their pregnancy, breastfeeding season, and beyond. 

Every two hours in Kenya, every single day, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth. To put that in perspective, between the time you have breakfast at 7 am and 10 o’clock tea, two women will have died due to pregnancy-related complications. According to the National Alliance Secretary of Health, an estimated 5,000 women in Kenya die annually during pregnancy or delivery. Other statistics indicate a higher number of up to 8000 deaths annually.

Nairobi, Kenya 28th February 2023 – Kenya is ranked among the top 20 countries globally with the highest incidence of cervical cancer. Even though it is second in incidence after breast cancer, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in Kenya; sadly, nine women die of cervical cancer every day. 

KILELE Health Association, a local Non-Profit that works with cancer survivors and caregivers to increase the quality of life in survivorship held its first National Stakeholders Engagement Forum, as a catalyst to sensitize Healthcare Practitioners, Key Opinion Leaders and Business Leaders in the Private Sector, as well as Local and International Partners on the need to take deliberate action and commit to helping Kenya achieve the WHO 90-70-90 Targets by 2030.

The forum comes as a response to the WHO 2020 Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of Cervical Cancer as a public health problem. The Global WHO Strategy calls on governments to enable 90% of girls to be fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by age 15, 70% of women are screened at ages 35 and 45 years, and 90% of women identified with pre-cancer or invasive cervical cancer receive treatment.

The forum’s main objective was to brainstorm and formulate a clear road map for the active involvement of Corporates in Kenya through innovative strategies and interventions for sustained advocacy, communication, awareness creation and mobilization of their workforce to support the WHO Strategy for Cervical Cancer Elimination. 

According to the report, countries have only 7 years left, until 2030, to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) targets that will help make cervical cancer elimination a reality within this ambitious timeframe.


Kenneth Mwige, Director General, Kenya Vision 2030,  Benda Kithaka, Kilele Health Association Executive Director, with H E. Hon. Cecily Mbarire, MGH, Governor, Embu County during the launch of the Thamani Yetu Campaign held at Mercure Hotel, Upperhill on Tuesday 28th February 2023. Thamani Yetu Campaign is safeguarding cervical health in Kenya to help achieve the WHO 90-70-90 targets by 2030.

Speaking at the event as Chief Guest, H. E. Hon. Cecily Mbarire, MGH, Governor, Embu County said, “The Level of cervical cancer awareness is low, let’s raise our voice about cervical cancer at a political level and upscale engagement with Council of Governors and Kenya Women Parliamentarians and push for more budgetary allocation and resources for reproductive health in the counties. Most rural homes are run and managed by women. The whole family risks collapsing when the woman falls ill,” said Mbarire.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths among Kenyan women, yet it is preventable with the HPV Vaccine and easily detectable/curable in its early stages. Sadly the GLOBOCAN report 2020 indicates that 15 women are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each day in Kenya, and 9 women die daily. These women are at their prime and are active contributors to the economy, and are the glue that holds families, small businesses and communities together.

Speaking during the event, Benda Kithaka, Executive Director, KILELE Health said, “By 2040, it is estimated that Cervical cancer deaths will rise by nearly 50% if we don’t act. These deaths can be averted if we act today.”

 “I am concerned because 50% of Kenya’s workforce is made up of women. We want to ensure our women continue to work and contribute to the economy productively, however, they need to access screening and timely treatment so that we ultimately eliminate cervical cancer.” Kithaka added

Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for cancer control.  30% and 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, and existing evidence-based prevention strategies. 

In October 2019, Kenya introduced the HPV Vaccine into a routine immunization schedule targeted at 10-year-old girls. According to the Ministry of Health National Vaccines and Immunisation Program (MOH-NVIP), only 56% of eligible girls had received the first dose of the HPV Vaccine, and a dismal 31% had received the second dose to complete the recommended two doses for effective protection against cervical cancer by October 2021. 

Barriers to the uptake of the HPV Vaccine, include a lack of knowledge about HPV and the HPV vaccine, fear about the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine, and perceived cost of the HPV vaccine. An additional possible explanation for the high drop-out rate could also be the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions to healthcare systems.

The National Cancer Control Strategy 2017-2022 is the roadmap charted by The National Cancer Control Program (NCCP) within the Ministry of Health, which has enabled great milestones in ensuring the country has the necessary policy framework, strategies and guidelines for cervical cancer screening and treatment. 

Kenya has over 9,000 Health Facilities ranging from Level 2 Primary Care Facilities to Level 5 National Referral Hospitals yet only 16% of women access screening for cervical cancer in Kenya. Regrettably, only 12 of these facilities have the capacity to adequately treat cancer with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The majority of these are located in Nairobi County – the capital city of Kenya. Therefore many patients diagnosed late require to travel long distances to access treatment and care, which leads to lack of follow-up as a result of cost, distance and logistical challenges to attain health.

 “Kilele Health is joining worldwide leaders, cancer survivors, advocates, partners, and stakeholders to call for action to eliminate cervical cancer through dialogue. There are over 30 organizations in Kenya that are working in cancer to bring resources, information and interventions for people to prevent and even cure some cancers. It takes all of us to create a Cervical Cancer-free-future for current as well as generations to come,” said Benda.


According to  Dr. Mary Nyangasi – Head of the National Cancer Control Programme speaking on behalf of Dr. Patrick Amoth, Director General Ag. Health, Ministry of Health, Kenya

The Ministry of Health partnered with the World Bank to produce an investment case for cancer in Kenya in 2022. The cost of investing in HPV vaccination will be outweighed by the benefits within 30 years of the program’s implementation according to the economic report. The report demonstrated that in the long term the benefits of breast and cervical cancer programs outweigh their costs, and do generate a positive return on investment. Scaling up prevention and early detection interventions for breast and cervical cancers was also recommended and in this regard, the NHIF benefit package is currently being revised to include cervical cancer prevention strategies.