This Wyoming-based, woman-owned business sells its American-made mobile health clinics around the world. Learn how OPIC helps
At OPIC, we often feature the stories of our American business partners who we support in emerging markets. But the benefits of OPIC’s work extend beyond our immediate clients since the projects we support often result in procurement of American goods and services. One such supplier is Cheyenne, Wyoming-based Odulair LLC, which supplied 18 mobile health clinics, built on Ford chassis, to an OPIC-supported project in Ghana expanding access to quality healthcare.
In 2011 OPIC provided political risk insurance to Belstar LLC, a Miami company serving as the lead investor in a sweeping project by the Government of Ghana to introduce more advanced medical equipment. As part of the project, Odulair provided mobile clinics to bring healthcare to the most remote corners of the country.
Here Odulair’s founder, president and CEO Dr. Anita Chambers explains how emerging markets can benefit from American innovation and the opportunities these markets present for American businesses.
What’s in a mobile clinic?
Anything that you would see in a doctor’s office or hospital, we place it in a truck, trailer, bus, container or even a boat, so that we can bring healthcare services to people who have none. Much of our work is focused on bringing healthcare to underserved populations around the world.
Explain the important function that mobile clinics provide in the developing world, where hospital infrastructure as well as access to electricity may be limited.
I often think of mobile clinics in developing countries as parallel to cellular phones in developing countries. Because there was limited infrastructure in these places, cellular telephones were adopted at a much faster rate than in developed countries. The cell phone allowed developing countries to leapfrog over the land line. Odulair’s solutions offer the same leapfrog opportunity for developing countries lacking hospital infrastructure or reliable electricity. All of our mobile clinics are designed in collaboration with local healthcare teams and ministries of health.
How many countries does Odulair serve?
We currently have projects in 18 countries, including the United States, but the vast majority of the markets we serve are emerging markets.
One of the countries you work in is Ghana, where OPIC is supporting a project to improve healthcare. Can you share the impact these clinics have had in remote parts of the country?
In one location alone, healthcare teams treated more than 1500 patients, using eight Odulair clinics. They actually tested the hearing of 495 children in a single day. Even I was surprised by the volume of children they were able to reach. We’ve also learned that in Ghana’s healthcare system, treating a patient in an Odulair mobile clinic costs half what it would cost to treat the same patient in the local hospital.
Talk a little bit about the business you founded. How did you first get the idea and how did you develop the concept and overcome challenges.
I’ve always worked in medicine. I initially founded a sister company to design and build mobile surgery units, which are used in the U.S. Shortly after I founded that company, I went back to school and earned a PhD in Human Development focusing on Theories of Health. This is a body of literature that attempts to explain why some people are healthy and others are sick. During my studies, I became interested in healthcare in developing countries. I realized that mobile clinics could be an effective tool in reaching more patients in these regions.
The biggest challenge I faced after I founded Odulair, which I continue to deal with today, is the cost to manufacture mobile clinics in the United States for a global market. Often our competition is manufacturing in economies with far lower labor costs. OPIC was a great help in overcoming this challenge with our sale to Ghana. The client recognized the superior quality of American-made products, but required political risk insurance to structure a feasible deal.