After her A’level at Uganda Martyrs Namugongo, Phyllis joined Makerere University where she did an undergraduate degree in Medical Radiography, a profession that enables diagnostics using machines like Ultrasound scanners, Xrays, CT Scans and MRIs (Magnetic resonance imaging).
During her Community based education and research (COBERS) project , Phyllis was posted to Amach Health Center IV in Lira district in Northern Uganda where she watched several women die during labor due to conditions that could have been scanned and detected on the Ultrasound machine she was learning about in school. This drove her to conceptualise a solution on how to bring affordable ultrasound services to low income communities.
“I found this unacceptable and when I shared my experience with my colleagues, we came up with an idea to bring affordable ultrasound services to low income communities leveraging mobile technology. We then learnt about Up Accelerate from Facebook and decided to apply because the aim of the Accelerator was to tackle sexual-reproductive health challenges; a sector we were very passionate about” she said.
Up Accelerate is an initiative of UNFPA implemented in partnership with Outbox that seeks to empower Ugandan youth to address existing Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights and Gender Based Violence challenges in Uganda through bold solutions or approaches.
It encourages social innovation and entrepreneurship in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
“Together with my team, we developed a low-cost mobile Ultrasound devices used in low resource or hard to reach areas. Our product is an Ultrasound probe coupled with an ultrasound software that is compatible to a phone, laptop or tablet,” says Phyllis.
Through the Up Accelerate initiative, Phyllis and her team received funding of 10,000 USD which took them through most of the prototyping phase. The team also received essential financial, legal and business training to help them grow their company, MSCAN.
In 2018, MSCAN emerged winner of the 2018 TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa, a tight race of 15 startups held in Lagos, Nigeria. The team walked away with a equity free cash prize of $25,000, a trip for two to TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco and the title of “Africa’s Favorite Startup”.
“Winning TechCrunch was so surreal! We were so honored and humbled to be honoured on such a large scale. It has pushed us to work even harder to ensure that no woman, especially in Africa, dies while giving life,” Phyllis says.
MSCAN is now building on its research to justify market entry to the various regulatory authorities.
Besides Up Accelerate and the TechCrunch, Phyllis is a double prize winner for the inaugural YHER African womens' accelerator ( an accelerator program aimed at backing female-led impact ventures across the Pacific) in Johannesburg South Africa, 2017 and was also awarded overall Young Achiever of the Year 2018, by the Young Achiever Awards in Uganda.
“Being in the technovation space has changed me a lot. I challenge myself more often, i am always ideating and i have reduced the number of things that i call 'impossible,’ she says.
She also recently resigned from her job at TMR International Hospital in Kampala where she worked as a Medical Radiographer operating Ultrasound and Xray to focus on MSCAN.
Phyllis is the last born of three daughters born to a phenomenal single mother, Dr.Jane Bemigisha. “Coming from a family of only women, it means a lot to me to be able to develop a solution addressing women needs. Women have a very special slot in my heart and it is satisfying to know that MSCAN is going to impact their lives!”