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Week of 5.25.07

Health Care Franchise

Can the quality of healthcare in developing nations be transformed by the same principle that makes fast food such a success here?

This week, NOW travels to Kenya to investigate an enterprising idea: franchising not burger and donut shops, but health services and drugs in rural Africa. American businessmen are teaming with African entrepreneurs to spread for-profit clinics around the country in the hopes of providing quality, affordable medical care to even Kenya's poorest people.

But can they overcome obstacles like extreme poverty, corruption, cheaper services, and long distances to establish a sustained solution to a chronic problem?

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"If we had as many franchise outlets delivering health care in developing countries as Subway has sandwich shops, we've estimated that we could serve about 120 million people a year," Businessman Scott Hillstrom, who conceived the idea, told NOW's David Brancaccio.

This is part of a new beat on NOW and NOW Online called "Enterprising Ideas" that focuses on innovative solutions to social problems around the world. For the next two years, NOW will devote time to examining how people are applying business skills toward a new kind of bottom line: making the world a better place.

Also This Week:

» Producer's Q & A: Dan Logan in Kenya

» Slideshow: Distributing Health in Kenya

Related Links:

NOW's Enterprising Ideas

CFW Shops

BBC: Kenya country profile

World Health Organization: Fact sheet on country health in Kenya [pdf]

Topic Search: Medicine and Healthcare