In celebration of Youth Month 2020, we focus on young women scientists and researchers who are making waves and changing the world through science. Our featured young science boffins are Loide Uushona and Pendapala Shiyuka from Namibia (Source https://thisisafrica.me)
Loide Uushona is the co-founder of Namibia’s youngest owned Medical laboratory. With Pendapala Shiyuka she is pushing to create innovative solutions in a field that has long stagnated and is encouraging other African youth to do the same. Driven by their passion to modernise and transform the routine of laboratory science in Namibia, Uushona (28) and Shiyuka (29) started ProQuest Diagnostic Laboratories in a three-bedroomed house in 2015.
Speaking on their inspiration to start the Lab the co-founders told Start-up Info that, “Medical Laboratory science in Namibia is quite one note and that becomes routine. I was always of the opinion that if we as young scientists wanted to change that, we had to be bold enough to be at the forefront of that change.” Now ProQuest is a medical laboratory with a centre of its very own and a vision of becoming the leading innovative force in the evolution of Medical Science in Namibia. It provides clinical laboratory tests, research and innovation services in the area of microbiology, clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics and blood transfusion services.
The co-founders found that there was stagnation in the field with almost no growth trajectory. They therefore took it upon themselves to create solutions that were lacking. “Our biggest competitors have been dominating the industry uncontested for over 20 years and have the common brand advantage, experience, test menu and resources to rapidly expand and adapt to challenges in the industry,” Uushona told Start-up Info.
ProQuest however has its own edge as the only medical laboratory in the country that incorporates both research and innovation as services. “The main labs are normally focused on testing, there is very little research and innovation taking place, one of our goals therefore was to come up with a different model for the industry as well as for younger medical scientists,” she told The Patriot. Aside from self-sustainability the young scientists are also hoping to inspire others to follow in the footsteps and spread their wings across the region.
“We would like to create employment for the young scientists. I honestly see us expanding outside of Windhoek and the rest of SADC someday. Specifically, to Angola, because there is potential for growth there and we have come to realise that their healthcare system is struggling, it would be nice to offer a helping hand to our neighbours,” she explained to The Patriot. The duo further encouraged young Namibians who dream of starting up endeavours to tap into being very competitive. “Often there are so many opportunities for young Namibians out there, but we do not apply, and we don’t put ourselves out there, I do not know why that is,” she concluded.