BY CYNTHIA BENT FINDLAY | FOR COLUMBUS CEO
Founded by Ghanaian immigrant Sam Baddoo, Fleri is a platform that allows users to purchase health insurance for beneficiaries in Africa and other in countries far away—currently only in Nigeria and Ghana, but is expanding rapidly. The beneficiary can go to local doctors, pharmacies or hospitals without having to wait for relatives to send money.
Your grandmother calls you—she’s having a flare-up of her diabetes symptoms, an infected toenail, and she needs your help.
You take time off work, drive her to her doctor’s office, present her Medicare card and take her to the pharmacy for her meds after.
But what if you’re 5,000 miles away? You can send money for the doctor and for a taxi, you can plead with her to go—but if your uncle’s kids need to eat, that money may well go to food instead.
That’s a dilemma faced by immigrants and ex-pats the world over. A brave new Columbus startup founded by a Ghanian immigrant might help solve that problem.
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Immigrants can purchase health insurance for international family through Fleri
Sam Baddoo had that same experience with his own grandmother, who passed away due to inadequate medical care despite his having sent hundreds of dollars back home.
“That was the moment I thought, what if things were different, we didn’t have to send money as the only thing we can do?”
Baddoo had worked for Cigna Global in the U.S., understood the industry, and also has startup experience here in the states. He dug in and came up with Fleri in October 2020.
Fleri is a platform that allows users to purchase health insurance for beneficiaries in countries far away—currently only in Nigeria and Ghana, but is expanding rapidly. The beneficiary can go to local doctors, pharmacies or hospitals without having to wait for relatives to send money.
And the senders can have a financial plan and some peace of mind knowing they’re less likely to get hit with surprise requests for large sums.
Fleri curates insurance partners and purchases policies at a wholesale price with a small markup for retail consumers. The pilot period began last fall and ends this October and served policy purchasers in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and even the United Arab Emirates, purchasing for more than 300 families.
“We have a wait list of around 8,000 individuals in the diaspora. They’re waiting to access the platform, as we’re building the product,” Baddoo says.
After a small friends and family seed round in early 2021, Fleri is bringing on strategic investment for more pre-seed funding. The company was recently accepted to the Tech Stars Toronto Accelerator, where Baddoo hopes to focus on the digital platform as well as reaching more Canadian immigrant communities. Eventually, Fleri will target healthcare provision in more of Africa, South America, Asia and beyond.
Baddoo says the biggest challenge isn’t technology or finding partners but creating awareness and trust with immigrants here.
The stakes are high. Baddoo says Fleri has the potential to create a sea change in living conditions for millions who have immigrated—and those they help back home. And Fleri could be a keystone in creating a more stable healthcare sector around the world.
Cynthia Bent Findlay is a freelance writer.
470 W. Broad St., Columbus
Founder: Sam Baddoo
Business: Health insurance sponsorship platform
Launch: November 2021
Investment to date: Would not disclose
Employees: 12 full time, five part time, in Columbus, Africa and Central America