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ReliefWatch: Impact Meets Data

Tegucigulpa, HondurasChicago, United States
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Project SAM is an inventory management platform targeted at multinational non-governmental organizations operating health clinics in developing countries. Project SAM allows workers in these health clinics to digitize and manage inventory records simply via automated voice calls from feature phones.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if an efficient mobile-based inventory at clinics could save lives in parts of the world that lack the internet access?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Health clinics in developing countries do not typically have computers or internet access to track inventory. Furthermore, data regarding medical supplies is often not integrated into a centralized system, meaning supply shipments to re-stock clinics are irregular and drugs frequently expire. Stockouts and expiration of medication are a significant problem, rendering treatment ineffective and affecting billions of dollars of medical aid yearly.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Project SAM’s primary product is a cloud database system specifically designed to record inventory data across multiple health clinics and branches of multinational health organizations. Critically, this system integrates with mobile phones to record inventory through an automated voice call using interactive voice response technology. This is vital to the operation of Project SAM in its target market in the developing world, given that the mobile ownership rate in both Latin America and Africa exceeds 90% while computer ownership with internet access remains very limited, particularly in non-urban areas. More specifically, our technology relies solely upon voice calls and SMS, meaning it is fully compatible with feature phones.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Using Project SAM, each clinic of an NGO’s health system is registered along with each warehouse and initial inventory. Clinic workers receive automated voice calls every two days that allow them to update the amount of each drug in stock via keys on their phone. Through this call, data is passed from the telecom network into an internet gateway connected to a cloud database back-end which updates information regarding the clinic’s inventory. Warehouse managers can log in through our web platform and view the updated information, while also logging transfers to and from clinics and monitoring potential stockouts and expirations. Finally, organization admins can use Project SAM to view overall aggregated statistics about their organization.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Project SAM’s technology has just been launched with our first client organization (Global Brigades) and is still being rolled out across their entire operations in Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. So far we have already digitized over two million units of hundreds of varying medical supplies across three different countries. We do not track specific patient information so we don’t know the exact number of patients served since launch, though given our Global Brigade’s average estimate per year our system has likely been utilized in distributing medicine to over 3,000 people in just the past two months. Over the next seven months, Project SAM aims to partner with at least five NGO’s with a global reach exceeding 12 countries. From our partnership with Global Brigades, we have established direct leads to six other organizations that collectively operate in more than 10 countries.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In terms of long term growth, we recognize that the potential market for cloud-based inventory software integrated with basic mobile phones extends far beyond just multinational health NGO’s. There are several closely related verticals such as refugee camp and relief aid supplying, as well as commercial verticals in the developing world such as agriculture and produce management that also present opportunities for growth. Although our target market is currently Latin America, we plan to expand operations to other developing parts of the world such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Project SAM is currently primarily focused on scaling and product development. As a result, we are primarily in need of additional technical talent to accelerate product development, along with additional NGO contacts and leads to create additional partnerships. To this end, Project SAM aims to partner with at least five NGO’s with a global reach exceeding 12 countries while earning annual revenue of over $100,000 by the end of 2014.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The current mobile health technologies of our target market in Latin America consist of Internet-based applications dealing with teleconsultation, appointments, and training of health workers. SMS messaging on feature phones has also been used for mobile banking in many developing regions. These SMS messages are able to interface with the bank's online database records and therefore provide a good analogue to the technological architecture and user experience of Project SAM, though the end goals of managing personal finances versus medical inventories remain fundamentally distinct.

Founding Story

Project SAM grew out of Daniel Yu's experience while living in Egypt. While in a remote Egyptian town in 2012, he discovered the inadequate conditions and ineffective practices of local health clinics, specifically stocked out and expired medications that were affecting patients who required them. While noting that these clinics did not have computer or internet access and no digitized records, he saw that every person in the clinic as well as the vast majority of people in general had a mobile phone. From this point, he assembled a team to build out a medical inventory system that could be integrated with basic mobile phones. In January, 2013 he took a leave of absence from the University of Chicago to focus full-time on Project SAM.


Daniel Yu leads product development for Project SAM. He is an experienced web developer, having worked as a freelance developer specializing in building out MVP’s for startups. Daniel manages the product development cycle and a majority of the front-end development while other developers on the team manage back-end development of the platform. Other team members include developers Pete Vilter and Shaan Sapra and medical space adviser Cindy Sui.
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Organization Country

, IL, Chicago

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Tegucigulpa

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

NGOs, Customers.


Health and Hygiene.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

Multinational health NGO’s are our customers. They offer tiered administration under one umbrella. This allows us to contract with one organization and roll-out across hundreds of clinics. Second, they provide ease of communication. Global directors are based in developed countries, and this allows us to more effectively communicate with them. Finally, they are willing to pay for resources such as ours designed to measure impact. Client outreach includes cold contact and introduction by existing partners.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

The prize money and publicity from this competition would allow us to invest in personnel and expand our outreach efforts. This would allow Project SAM to scale its efforts to partner with at least five NGO’s with a global reach exceeding 12 countries while earning annual revenue of over $100,000 by the end of 2014. Over the next seven months, Project SAM also aims to develop predictive analytics functionality that will allow us to use data from our inventory database to predict expected drug usage for organizations.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

Founder and CEO Daniel Yu is leading the product development for Project SAM, and has extensive experience as a web developer, having worked as a freelance developer specializing in building out MVP’s for new startups. In addition, team member and developer Shaan Sapra has worked as a software developer for Enova and for several early-stage startups at the University of Chicago.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?


Will you require a visa to enter the UK?


Are you are a current Unilever employee?