❤️‍🩹 Get Those Doctors Hired…

Plus: “Please Call Me” guy’s R20bn, flying mangoes (again) and how to build a business with WhatsApp.
February 9, 2024


Ready to fly? Check out this awesome video of the Star Warsy new model space plane being mounted on its cargo module at NASA's Neil Armstrong Test Facility.

In this Open Letter:

  • Supply and demand: Tech to solve SA’s doctor dilemma.
  • Flying mangoes, the bank of WhatsApp and the “Please Call Me” guy’s R20bn.
  • Social payment: How to build a business on WhatsApp.
  • How we like to gamble: The results are in.
  • Free stuff: Share this and get cool business tools.

Solving SA’s Sawbones Supply

South Africa is severely short on doctors.

Which is funny because, just a few days ago, about 1’000 newly qualified doctors marched with their CVs to meet the Health Minister at the GCIS offices in Pretoria.

Their mission: To ask the department’s hospitals to employ them.

The answer: No, sorry, the government doesn’t have the money to employ them right now.

Talk about your catch-22.

The graduate run-around

But we’re not here to discuss the politics – seems bad financial planning is behind gov’s inability to hire the new doctors it so desperately needs, if you must know… No, we’re here to look at the opportunity.

What we have right here, is a supply and demand issue. And it’s quite severe.

How Many Doctors Do We Need Exactly?

Look, we all know doctors’ services are sorely needed in SA. 

And according to this interactive map by the WHO, South Africa has 8 Drs per 10’000 people. So, about 48k doctors in SA.

Now, compare that to the likes of Australia (41 per 10k), Sweden (70 per 10k), and even some of our BRICS counterparts like Russia (38 per 10k) & Brazil (21 per 10k). If we want to get to Brazil’s density of medical doctors, we need an additional 78’000 which could take 78+ years at our current graduation rate of 1’000 per year (probably longer considering retirement, etc).

So it does seem like we need more doctors, so why can’t we get them jobs? Is there even a market for them?

Wait, what’s he doing during the daytime?

But there is a market

The current healthcare situation is actually abysmal. Last year, South Africa ranked in the bottom 22% of the global healthcare index. Almost all our African neighbours – including war-torn Sudan — have better healthcare than South Africa.

Not that our care is bad, quality healthcare is just unaffordable for most. See SA spends an inordinately large portion of our health spend on private healthcare, which only serves 16% of the population, meaning almost 84% are entirely underserved (50m+).

Medical aid costs upwards of R5’000 pm for a family of 3 (which the 16% is currently buying), but Unicef says most households in SA earn only R18k per month. Realistically, taking living expenses into account, those people can only afford to spend a few hundred Rand per month on healthcare.

Even if you can only reach a fifth of the remaining 84% of SA’s population, that’s still a market of 10 million people.

So arguably if one can get the cost of primary healthcare down to a level this 10m can afford, you have a massive market, with a large demand on your hand.

And by looks of things, there are many unemployed doctors ready to serve it.

The future of SA healthcare, according to AI

Tech to get the cost down

The traditional GP service includes a whole host of people and facilities that bloat the cost. Think facilities, reception, finance, etc. Not to mention all the admin involved in claiming from medical aid and losses due to no-shows and non-payment. It’s a very ineffective process — making the consult price high.

Introduce tech to slice that price in half and all of a sudden the market size is massive. And some local startups are making great progress in this space.

  • Kena Health (backed by Next176) provides online nurse, doctor and therapist consultations. They use AI and nurses to collect diagnosis information optimising the time a patient spends with the doctor and by doing so, they get the price down.
  • Udok also connects patients with a doctor for a virtual consultation and one can consult a doctor either through their online platform or at many Clicks Pharmacies across the country.

Whilst both of these currently offer online consultation, this is merely the start of introducing technology in the supply chain of primary healthcare, decreasing costs to patients, increasing healthcare and catching the ball where the government is dropping it. We are watching this space.


💳 Mastercard Investing. Mastercard has just forked over R3.8 billion for a minority stake in MTN’s MTN Group Fintech pushing the valuation of the telecoms operator’s Fintech arm to nearly R100 billion.

📱 WhatsApp Banking. Absa has launched a new WhatsApp wallet called ChatWallet that allows users to manage money directly in the messaging app without needing an existing bank account.

👠 Fashion Incoming. A new eComm fashion player in town is setting its sights on Superbalist, Bash and Shein. Chinese eCommerce marketplace Temu launched in SA last month and is already one of the Top 3 free apps on both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

🥭 Mango Flying. Low-cost airline, Mango, might be able to take off again soon after its business rescue practitioner has greenlit the sale to an unknown investor.

👨‍⚖️ Vodacom Appealing. A Supreme Court of Appeal ruling has instructed Vodacom to pay a former employee R20 billion (10% of its market cap) for part of the revenue generated from the “Please Call Me” service since 2001 within 30 days.


How to Launch a Business on WhatsApp

If you’re building a product or business that might benefit from selling directly on social media, this week’s podcast is for you. We caught up with Danielle Laity and Dean Pienaar at payments startup WigWag to tell us about what it takes to launch, grow and get paid via socials.

The highlights

1. WhatsApp is now a massive marketplace

As Daniele explains here, WhatsApp is extremely popular, with 96% of SA internet users being on WhatsApp, its 21m user base in 2022 is expected to grow to 26m users by 2026.

And the community feature really unlocked the ability for people to create dedicated spaces around a common interest – from secondhand baby clothes or luxury goods sales to job postings.

You might see actual buying and selling going on in these groups, but some of them have grown so huge that even they themselves are starting to charge membership fees and effectively becoming businesses. 

2. Solving the payments problem

As mentioned here, handling payments has always been a pain point with these social communities. EFT and cards always have a major trust barrier on socials, and cash is often a big risk for people.

So what WigWag, who is part of payments innovator Stitch, did was to build a super-sleek payments interface, where the seller can push people through to a branded dedicated instance, with their logo and everything to process payments safely. 

3. Beyond the solopreneur

What’s interesting is, as Danielle mentions here, that it’s not just small-scale and solos jumping on this tech. Service businesses can easily run their payments through the platform, and even restaurants that want to do their own deliveries and not pay exorbitant app fees and commissions use WigWag to process mobile orders and payments.

They even have an Internet Service Provider who runs all their monthly service billing via the platform. A simple script runs through their customer list and sends each customer a WhatsApp with the payment link. And that’s how they collect their cash every month.

You can also grab the Spotify and Apple Podcast links on our website here.


We asked if you participate in sports betting, and the majority no, but there’s some gambling going on…

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🚫 Nope (64%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🏆 Big games only (6%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🤑 All the time (9%)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 📈 I'd rather bet on the stock market (15%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🚀 I reserve my bets for myself (and my startup) (6%)

Thanks to one of our readers, Scott who sent through some detailed stats on the SA gambling and gaming industry. If our newsletter tickled your interest, you need to check it out.

Your 2 cents…

“I once lost a bet on a Stormers vs Sharks game in the late 90's. I had to shave my head — and if I'm honest, I don't think my hair has recovered since... ”


❤️‍🩹 Get Those Doctors Hired…

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