Lorna Mae Johnson
Lorna Mae Johnson is an Olympic qualifying athlete, a graduate of the University of Southern California (USC), and a Clinical Professor and Lecturer at UCLA School of Medicine. Lorna is a fierce and proven successful business leader and philanthropist. She is a member of President Biden’s National Finance Committee and served as Chair on the Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on his Advisory Committee on the Arts at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She also served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Board on Healthcare and on his National Finance Committee. In 2019, dubbed “the year of the return” as it marked the 400th anniversary of the first slave to America, Lorna was crowned Queen Mother in Ghana. She is currently a committee member on the White House Historical Association, which began 60 years ago by former First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. Among her other ventures, she is the President and CEO of LMJ Global Enterprises, Co-founder and President of CribMD and hosts a Virtual Town Hall, “Live with Lorna.” Lorna, alongside Melinda Gates, is an Essayist with the UN Foundation for Women and Girls, and a globally recognized speaker on issues surrounding women, girls, and finance. Following up on her July 2021 interview, The Guardian engaged Lorna Johnson on CribMD’s continued disruption of Nigeria’s healthcare space, and on how her passion and her long-standing relationship with the country prompted her to bring CribMD’s innovations to all Nigerians.
What is CribMD bringing to the market?
CribMD is completely revolutionizing the healthcare space in Nigeria and the way that healthcare services are delivered. Through our user-friendly app or website, subscribers have access to healthcare at their fingertips. Within minutes, they can browse doctors and book one to come to their house, request a teleconsultation, chat with doctors and order prescriptions to their doorstep, 24/7. The doctor house-call service is the first in Nigeria, and a game changer in a market where people in congested megacities may have to sit in traffic and queue at hospitals to receive medical care, or where people in more remote areas are likely to have limited access to healthcare facilities. Besides these cutting-edge services, which are our signature feature, CribMD offers various health plans, from as little as 3,000 Naira per month all the way to more premium and custom plans, to ensure they can gain access to a variety of services at external healthcare facilities, too.
What plans, in more detail, does CribMD offer?
We offer both retail and corporate plans. On the retail side, we’re on a mission to democratize healthcare in Nigeria, so that every citizen in the country can exercise their fundamental human right to access basic healthcare. Unfortunately, less than 5% of Nigerians are currently covered by health insurance, most of whom enjoy an employee-based healthcare coverage. Through our tech-driven services of doctor house calls, telemedicine and prescriptions delivery, CribMD ensures that everyone, including children below 15 years of age who represent 46% of the population, can access quality care at highly affordable rates. However, we have also decided to venture into corporate healthcare and provide subscription-based plans spanning all services and costs to meet specific company needs. This allows us to cater to all Nigerians and to fuel our growth, while companies, on the other hand, can be part of this incredible healthcare revolution and support CribMD’s mission to bring healthcare access to the many communities in need.
How did CribMD come about, and what prompted you to take part in this project?
Our co-founders, Ifeanyi Ossai, CribMD’s CEO, and Mike Ngiri, our CTO, are two incredibly talented technology experts from Nigeria who, therefore, have witnessed the country’s healthcare trends and needs firsthand, and who have a genuine passion for making a difference in the health of Nigerians. To this end, they came up with an ingenious technology-driven platform with the belief that technology is the only way to address many socioeconomic challenges like access to healthcare. Given my decades’ long experience in managing healthcare facilities in the U.S., my affiliations, relationships and access to funding, and my philanthropic work across Africa and the Caribbean, I was immediately sold on the idea. I knew I could deliver and so I was up for the challenge. However, I was not the only one to be thrilled to come onboard. From the onset, we have attracted the keen interest of various investors globally, and so we were highly selective when choosing our partners. We ended up securing a $2.6m investment in our seed round from investors with an outstanding reputation for investing in startups. They include The Guardian from Nigeria, Sputnik ATX from the United States, and Norrsken from Sweden, who in fact are a startup themselves. Thanks to their support and enthusiasm towards CribMD, we’ve managed to come a long way in less than a year in Nigeria, and just over a year since conception.
Indeed, CribMD is less than a year old in Nigeria. What have you achieved so far, and where do you aim to be in the next few years?
A year later, we have nearly 5,000 active subscribers who are extremely satisfied with the way we have brought to them a more holistic and innovative approach to healthcare. A further 45,000 subscribers are currently being enrolled on our platform. We have performed little to no marketing campaigns so far, so all of these subscribers were referred to us by word of mouth, which makes us extremely proud and excited for what’s coming next. By mid 2022, we plan to have 100,000 subscribers on the platform. Of course, we are also expanding our team. Moreover, as we’re a young and dynamic company, we are constantly fine-tuning our platform and features, as well as our services. We listen closely to what our customers need and are always going that extra mile to ensure they receive the best healthcare experience, from using the app and booking health services, all the way to their healthcare delivery. In the next few years, we also plan to go public. Geographically, we currently have a presence in Nigeria and California, but we will be looking at other countries in Africa, particularly East Africa, and beyond. For now, though, all our focus is on bringing this ground-breaking innovation to Nigeria and change the lives of its citizens.
You had already been to Nigeria prior to starting CribMD, but this project now makes you a regular visitor to our country. What is your idea about Nigeria and doing business here?
Absolutely, I had been to Nigeria a few times before CribMD and I fell in love with this wonderful country – a land of challenges but equally of opportunities, home to wonderful cultures and beautiful, clever and savvy people. In fact, I have some of my dearest friends in Nigeria. I was honored along with then Princess Tessy of Luxembourg, in London, as one of seven wonder women of the world by a Nigerian daughter, one of the daughters of the beautiful Lady Maiden Alex Ibru Anita. Anita and I also brought Princess Tessy to address and acknowledge the work of women and their achievements in Nigeria, and we will continue to do that. The emotional attachment I have for Nigeria and its people, makes my purpose through CribMD even more meaningful. Although we are bringing something new from what the narrative has been over the years when it comes to accessing healthcare, I am confident in the fact that Nigerians are keen on embracing innovations, and they will experiment a new type of healthcare that they will never want to leave. And at CribMD, we will not slow down until we provide every Nigerian with access to quality healthcare.
Lorna Mae Johnson