Pioneering Design-led Entrepreneurship and Innovation

By AfriBlocks Network on June, 5 2024
Pioneering Design-led Entrepreneurship and Innovation
AfriBlocks Network
AfriBlocks Network

Collins Akaniru, known as “Creative Collins” among his peers, is a seasoned design-led Product and Innovation Leader with over seven years of experience. His focus is on empowering organizations through strategic design thinking, innovative product solutions, and transformative change initiatives. As a leading expert in design and innovation management, Akaniru has led high-impact projects and delivered solutions that meet market needs and drive business growth.

Launching UtilaR, A Necessity for Change

Collins Akaniru’s entrepreneurial journey began with a profound realization about the state of health insurance in Nigeria. "The inception of UtilaR stemmed from a profound necessity to revolutionize how individuals and institutions engage with health insurance," he says. His research highlighted that many Nigerians, especially the working class, depended solely on employer-provided health coverage. This dependency left them vulnerable to loss of coverage and high out-of-pocket expenses upon job loss. Additionally, a significant portion of the population lacked any form of health insurance altogether.

To address these issues, Akaniru and his co-founder launched UtilaR, a transformative marketplace designed to democratize access to health insurance packages offered by various Health Management Organizations (HMOs) across Nigeria. "Our platform transcends demographic barriers, ensuring inclusivity for all users," he explains. By offering a diverse array of packages and elucidating the benefits of health insurance plans, UtilaR empowers individuals to make informed choices tailored to their needs.

Akaniru’s driving force has always been the belief in the fusion of design and technology to create solutions that improve lives. "What ignites my passion is the realization that we're not merely constructing another marketplace; rather, we're revolutionizing the entire health insurance experience," he shares. UtilaR addresses a pivotal need by integrating design and technology to transform health insurance in Africa, giving everyone autonomy of choice and access to transparent information.

The Excitement of Building UtilaR

For Akaniru, the excitement of building UtilaR lies in the opportunity to fundamentally transform an industry that impacts millions of lives. "What excites me most about building UtilaR is the opportunity to fundamentally transform an industry that touches the lives of millions," he says. The dual impact of the platform is a significant driver for the team. UtilaR improves access to essential healthcare coverage for individuals and families who might struggle to navigate the complexities of the system. It also helps HMOs make more informed pricing decisions by allowing them to analyze the utilization patterns of users.

"Knowing that our work directly impacts people's lives, providing them with peace of mind and access to vital healthcare services and information, is incredibly rewarding," Akaniru remarks. By offering a variety of healthcare providers and the ability to compare costs and benefits, UtilaR empowers users to make informed choices that align with their needs and preferences. The team is dedicated to creating an intuitive, seamless, and empowering user experience. The opportunity to innovate and pioneer new approaches in an age-old industry is both thrilling and motivating for Akaniru.

Scaling the Team for Future Growth

Looking to the future, Akaniru plans to scale the UtilaR team with a focus on fostering a culture of collaboration, creativity, and innovation. "It's not just about adding more people to the mix; it's about nurturing a culture of collaboration, creativity, and innovation," he states. The company is adopting an iterative hiring process, embracing remote work and flexible arrangements. Starting with critical hires to address immediate needs and gradually expanding as resources permit, UtilaR aims to maintain agility and adaptability while scaling operations.

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Founders

Akaniru offers valuable advice for aspiring founders: "Vision is the cornerstone of innovation." He emphasizes the importance of cultivating a keen eye for identifying opportunities and envisioning possibilities. "Look beyond the surface to uncover unmet needs, emerging trends, and untapped markets," he advises. However, he also highlights the necessity of translating vision into action. "Vision without action is merely a daydream. Translate your vision into tangible goals and concrete plans," he says.

Akaniru encourages founders to break down their vision into actionable steps and pursue them with passion and determination. He also advocates for embracing failure as part of the journey. "Do not be afraid to fail because it means you are one step closer to getting it right," he notes. Embracing experimentation, iteration, and adaptation is crucial in bringing a vision to life.

Follow Collins Akaniru

To stay updated on Collins Akaniru’s journey and insights into design-led entrepreneurship and innovation, you can follow him on social media:

- LinkedIn: Collins Akaniru

- Instagram: @collinsakaniru

- X (formerly) Twitter: @collinsakaniru

Through his work with UtilaR, Collins Akaniru continues to demonstrate the transformative power of design and technology in addressing critical needs and improving lives. His journey is a testament to the impact of innovative thinking and strategic action in creating meaningful change.


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