The Fourth Industrial Revolution has dawned on us with numerous technologies most of which have devised means to ease man’s everyday activities and an online pharmacy is one of those that won’t have you worry about commuting to a clinic or pharmacy somewhere just to purchase a pain killer or supplies for your first aid kit at home.
Julius Sseninde, a 22 year old pharmacy student at Uganda Institute of Allied Health and Management Sciences is one of the youths that are creating jobs and ceasing the opportunity of reaping big from the internet with his E- Pine Pharmacy. I caught up with him for more insight into this, his epic adventure.
Julius, give us a background understanding of E- Pine Pharmacy.
E-Pine is an online pharmacy that sells medicines and medical equipment both at prescription and over the counter, retail and wholesale with over 1500 products available currently. A person in need downloads our app, creates an account with us, interacts with the medics, orders and we deliver.
This “order-delivery” business tends to have more costs to it, how much is the delivery charge?
The delivery cost depends on the distance, where the client is. We do charge 700 Ushs (seven hundred shillings)per Kilometer.
How fast are these deliveries, because we are talking medicine not a piece of chicken?
I work with three other people and we try to be as fast as we humanly can. The deliveries are instant I should say.
Self Medication isn’t advisable by doctors. With this app, anyone can access medicine, do you have any restrictions on who orders what?
Yes, you have to submit in a prescription letter in case you are purchasing prescription drugs. The only drugs that someone can take without a prescription are supplements, herbal medicines and drugs for common diseases like flu and cough.
What inspired you to venture into online pharmacy business?
As a pharmacy student at Mulago, I saw patients struggling to get access to medicine prescribed to them by doctors and to solve that, I thought of starting something where they could get access to all medicines. Secondly, the prices of medicine in some retail pharmacies are slightly higher and that’s how E-Pine Pharmacy was started to see that patients get medicines at a lower prices.
Some people have busy schedules which make it inconvenient to get their medicines so I come up with a platform to solve that problem.
Lastly, the yearning for self-employment as a youth inspired me to start up E-Pine Pharmacy.
It’s been three months in business now, how is it so far and what do you foresee for this project?
Currently, we have gone into partnerships with several pharmacies as our suppliers and we have made some deliveries to a few clients who have ordered. We are planning to come up with an IOS version of the app to also cater for our clients using iPhone plus the website which is under development.
Secondly, our target is to serve the country through getting established in the newly approved cities.
faced is the lack of funds which has hindered my progress and I’m calling up development partners for support.
You did mention that clients can access drugs cheaply with E- Pine Pharmacy, what’s the math? How do you gain?
Our partner pharmacies give us supplies at wholesale prices which we later sell at retail. The difference between their profit margin and ours at retail enables us to have relatively cheaper prices.
What challenges have you encountered so far?
The main challenge I have faced is lack of funds which has hindered my progress and I’m calling upon development partners for support.
What advice do you have for youths like you out there?
My last word to the youths is that they should take off their fears, and start by solving problems around them because it’s what will give them the future they are looking for.