Founders Spotlight: Loatile Nkala (Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer,Doctors E-Consult)

Fresh from winning first place at the Botswana Digital & Innovation Hub (BD&IH) and First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) Foundation pitch competition and now a Women In Tech accolade at the Global Start-up Awards, it is safe to say Doctors E-Consult is on a roll. I had a chat with the co-founder and COO of the ehealth startup, Loatile Nkala, about the origins of her love for tech, how she started Doctors E-Consult to initially help her grandfather and brother have access to medical care during the pandemic lockdown, her views on the representation of women in the Botswana tech space, her vision for Doctors E-Consult and much more!

In your own words, tell us who Loatile Nkala is

From humble beginnings and a start in a small mining town in the Northern part of Botswana, I have always been a go-getter and strongly believe in the cliché “if you believe in yourself then not even the sky is the limit.” I am a young and vibrant tech enthusiast. I am a lawyer by profession and I also hold a health informatics specialization from the John Hopkins University as I have a great passion for the intersection between law, health, technology, and innovation. Furthermore, I have a diverse portfolio with various certificates in Cyberlaw and project management, just to name a few. I have also acquired my certificate from the Chartered Institute of procurement and supply (CIPS).

As a female entrepreneur, I have made great strides as I have been featured on global platforms such as BBC’s Focus on Africa and eNCA’s #Africa. I am also the Chief Operations Officer at a startup focused on telemedicine and Digital Health called Doctors E-Consult. I am a go-getter and I am also a Botswana National Youth Awards 2021 winner. In my spare time, I am a hopeless creative. I love scriptwriting and creating voice-overs and I have actually scripted a few works that have been aired on NOW! TV and Botswana Television. As a woman trying to make it in a patriotic community, I strongly believe in women empowerment and I also strongly believe in empowering marginalized groups.

Your background is in Law. Briefly take us through your journey into the tech space

Well, I love the law and I have also always loved finding innovative ways to solve some of the challenges society faces. I then realized that technology is certainly our greatest fighter when trying to solve some of these pressing challenges. So I then developed a keen interest and I started to fall in love with the tech space and now everything I do has law and tech-infused in it. My passion for tech reached its climax when I co-founded Doctors E-Consult.

Women representation in senior and decision-making positions in tech is still unfortunately low in Botswana. As a woman in a tech senior position, what has been your experience?

It's true women in Botswana are very much under-represented when it comes to the tech space. However, I have met very resilient women in senior positions in the tech space who have defied the odds to be the best at what they do. They have been an inspiration to me as they have carved out a way for young women like myself to not be afraid to stand in the gap. My journey in tech has not been an easy one but it has been worthwhile as I am an example to other young women that it is possible. I am very passionate about tech and I believe if we grew women to defy the odds and venture into it, we could all take Botswana to a whole new level!

If there have been challenges as a result of this representation gap, how have you managed to surmount them?

I think the biggest challenge that any woman faces in their industry is that they have to knock on more doors than our counterparts. I remember that I once had a conversation with a certain gentleman who said to my team and me that “doors do not open unless you knock on them.” Since then I have not given up on achieving the goals that I have set. It doesn’t matter how long that door takes to open. The important thing is to continue knocking and as a woman, gather up more strength to knock on those doors and when they open, show why you deserve a seat at the table because people already doubt your capability because you are a woman.

What do you think can be done to reduce this lack of representation?

I would suggest that girls need to be taught from a grass root level of the opportunities that are there in the tech space. Let it be that they are exposed to what the tech space really is. We need to cultivate their curiosity and build their interest from a young age, only then will we be able to close the gap of being under-represented.

Please tell us more about your start-up, Doctors E-Consult?

Doctors E-Consult is an online platform that brings doctors, pharmacies, pathologies, and patients all under one roof. Think of it as having your own hospital in your back pocket. So on our platform, a person is able to search for their preferred doctor ranging from gynecologists, pediatricians, general practitioners, and everything in between. A patient will then book an appointment with their doctor and then proceed to consult either via live video chat or via live messenger chat. After consultation, a doctor is able to issue a prescription which a patient can then upload on our pharmacy hub that houses a wide range of pharmacies from all across the country and then order medication online, subsequently having it delivered to wherever they are. We also have an emergency tab where doctors are available 24/7 ready to assist patients at any time of the day. We also have an Electronic Medical Record keeping system that enables patients to receive their lab test results in the comfort of their homes. 

What was the motivation for starting Doctors E-Consult?

The lockdown period was a very hard time for a lot of people especially for my grandfather and brother who had to seek medical attention. My grandfather, who lives outside the capital city, suffers from a Non-Communicable disease and as such, it is mandatory for him to visit his specialist doctor who is all the way in Gaborone on a monthly basis. When Covid hit Botswana, it resulted in him not being able to consult his doctor as usual which in turn deterred his health. My brother on the other hand is disabled and he cannot easily access healthcare services due to the use of his wheelchair. Therefore it has been very difficult for him to consult a doctor even prior to Covid-19. As such, my team and I came up with Doctors E-Consult, a solution that makes it possible for people to consult their doctor in the comfort of their homes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need to improve Botswana’s healthcare systems so that they can better adapt to sudden public health disasters. What role do you think eHealth solutions like Doctors E-Consult can play in aiding this adaptation?

Covid-19 exposed health systems all across the world to just how unsustainable and vulnerable they are and how we need to constantly think outside the box to give better care to patients regardless of situations that may arise. Having seen the detrimental effects of the pandemic in our health facilities here in Botswana, it is evident that it is important to leverage technology to continue giving much-needed medical care to patients. As such, e-health platforms such as ours play a vital role in mitigating problems such as the Covid-19 pandemic. We saw that during the lockdown period, it became extremely difficult for people to consult their doctors as we were confined to our homes. This subsequently resulted in delays in treatments. In addition to this, it addresses the real pain points that our health facilities have such as over congestion which is a result of the low doctor-patient ratio. Our platform is able to help everyone all across the country to consult a doctor in the comfort of their home thereby reducing congestion at medical facilities. 

When it comes to healthcare, inclusivity is vital. With most rural areas not having internet access, how do are you as Doctors E-Consult trying to ensure that your innovative solution does not just benefit urban dwellers and leave rural dwellers behind?

Doctors E-Consult is mandated on SDG 3 which is good healthcare and good wellbeing and this is not just for people within the urban parts but also for those in the rural parts. With our innovation, we want to ensure that everyone all across the country has instant access to healthcare facilities. As such, we are exploring having a USSD service that can be accessed on any mobile phone whether it is a smartphone or not. This will make it possible for anyone even in the most remote parts of the country to still have access to our services. In addition to this, another development we want to do is to introduce Doctors E-Consult mobile hotspots all across the country for an even more convenient way to use our service. 

Most of the time, creating an effective eHealth solution requires the collection of significant amounts of sensitive personal data. With the Data Protection Act having recently come into force, how is Doctors E-Consult planning to strike a perfect balance between operating within the confines of the Act but also developing an effective product, a process that requires the collection and handling of sensitive data

I believe everyone in the tech space has been looking forward to the Data Protection Act being enforced which guides us as tech-preneurs on how to handle people’s data. Like you have alluded to, e-health requires us to collect personal and sensitive data from our clients or data subjects. Being an aspiring cyber lawyer myself, I have thoroughly invested myself in learning about how to ensure that people’s data is handled properly with the necessary technical and organizational safeguards in place. I am currently pursuing the CIPP/E professional certification that will place me as a certified privacy professional and with this knowledge, it will ensure that not only does Doctors E-Consult comply with the set standards of handling people’s data but also conform to the Data Protection Act. 

What has been the proudest moment of your journey with Doctors E-Consult so far?

Let me just first start with how proud my whole entrepreneurial journey has been with Doctors E-Consult. Seeing how my team and I have built it from scratch to where it is now, words really fail me because we have put all our energies into it and I am really proud of how far we have come. My proudest moment so far with Doctors E-Consult is being able to get very positive feedback from industry giants in the country. This motivates my team and me not to give up because experts in various fields understand the vision that we have for Doctors E-Consult and it is always a humbling experience to hear this.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers regarding what Doctors E-Consult is up to, project-wise, currently, and in the near future?

I am very excited to share that Doctors E-Consult has been selected as the Southern Africa winner under Women In Tech in the Global Start-up Awards. This is the largest independent startup ecosystem competition that happens in 11 regions around the globe. The competition is now at regional level and we would highly appreciate your support in voting for us. As such we urge everyone to help us bring this award home by voting for us on the link . We are also preparing to officially launch the Doctors E-Consult website and are very excited about that so please follow Doctors E-Consult on all social media platforms (Doctors E-Consult) to be updated on our launch date.

What advice can you give to young girls who are also interested in pursuing a career in tech entrepreneurship?

I would tell young girls who are interested in the tech world to go for it. Tech is considered a man's world. However, it's time we shifted the narrative. Women in their nature are creative. We are innovators and as such, it's time that we use our creative skills in this field of technology and bring about dynamite solutions that will uplift the country, the continent, and the world at large. So I would say go for it girl child, the world is indeed your oyster.   

Lastly, please share with our readers your contact details in case they want to get in touch with you. 

My email address is I'm also on LinkedIn @Loatile Nkala as well as on Facebook @Loatile Nkala. Alternatively, you can contact Doctors E-Consult on (+267) 75 650 614, email, Facebook @Doctors_E_Consult, LinkedIn @Doctors E-Consult, Instagram @doctorse_consult, and on Twitter @consult_doctors.

NB: Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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