Ekaterina Korneeva: The Success Of Health & Help

by Marios Roussos
Ekaterina Korneeva: The Success of Health & Help

An inspiring blueprint for organisations striving to make a meaningful impact

In our times, healthcare disparities seem to be prevalent, but there is a beacon of hope – Health & Help organisation. 

Founded over nine years ago by Victoria Valikova and Karina Basharova, this non-profit organisation has transformed healthcare in underserved Central American communities. With the mission “We become better people by helping others,” Health & Help has grown from a single clinic in Guatemala to a network of facilities serving thousands annually.

Together with Ekaterina Korneeva, we talked at The Future, about the significant challenges Health & Help faces including logistical hurdles and funding constraints. Despite this, they leverage innovative solutions like telemedicine, solar power, and online tools to deliver high-quality care. The development of a GPT bot for grant writing and knowledge management highlights their technological savvy.

Sustainability is key to Health & Help’s strategy. By training local healthcare workers and offering educational programs, they empower communities to manage their health long-term. Dedicated volunteers, managed through advanced project tools, play crucial roles in this mission.

Transparency and accountability are central to Health & Help’s operations. They meticulously measure and communicate their impact, attracting new supporters. Strategic fundraising and partnerships with businesses align with corporate social responsibility goals, fostering trust and long-term relationships.

Looking ahead, Health & Help aims to achieve financial stability, expand its clinic network, and further improve healthcare access and education. Partnering with them offers businesses a chance to contribute to a noble cause while fulfilling social responsibility objectives.

Korneeva is an Enterprise Customer Success Manager at a SaaS company in Nicosia and a Corporate Relationships Manager at Health & Help. She combines her corporate job on the island with online volunteering for an international NGO.

Can you provide an overview of Health & Help’s mission and how it has evolved since its inception?

We become better people by helping others: this is Health & Help’s mission in seven simple words. For over nine years, this belief has guided us in making the world a better place one patient at a time. While there are many big and small ways to make a positive impact on our planet, our chosen method is providing healthcare to remote communities that do not have access to affordable medical assistance.

Our founders, Victoria Valikova and Karina Basharova, believe no one should be dying of easily preventable diseases simply because of the circumstances they were born into. So the two set out to change this by travelling to Guatemala and building a clinic for locals. They later built a second clinic in Nicaragua, in a village where prayer used to be the only option in medical emergencies. Since its inception, the organization has grown from a single clinic to a network of healthcare facilities that serve thousands of patients annually. Our focus has expanded to include not only direct medical care but also educational programs on hygiene, nutrition, and disease prevention, aimed at empowering communities to take charge of their health.

As a non-profit organization, we provide care and medication to patients free of charge and rely on the work of volunteers to keep the clinics running. We are funded by the generosity of private donors and business partners.

What are the primary challenges Health & Help faces in delivering healthcare in remote Regions?

The biggest issues are financing and logistics. Limited funding makes it very difficult to get essential medical supplies, transport patients when needed, and organize the work of our volunteers.

The Health & Help clinic in Nicaragua is located in a remote area with roads that are extremely difficult to navigate. It is almost impossible to pass these roads even on foot, and in emergency cases, the lives of our patients often depend on how quickly we transport them to hospitals.

Securing medical supplies and equipment is a constant struggle due to logistical and funding constraints. Health education is crucial, as many patients need more basic hygiene and disease prevention knowledge. Economic hardships are a constant backdrop, with many unable to afford basic healthcare. While the organization strives to offer free services, sustaining these efforts requires continuous and substantial funding.

What innovative approaches or technologies do you use to provide healthcare in remote Areas?

We use telemedicine to consult with specialists who are not onsite, allowing us to provide a higher level of care than would otherwise be possible. Solar power solutions have been installed to ensure that our clinic in Nicaragua, the only place in the village with electricity, can operate independently, as there are no local power grids. In our clinic in Guatemala, where local power grids exist, we also use a solar system for heating water.

With a diverse team spread across the globe, we heavily utilize online productivity tools. Additionally, I (Ekaterina Korneeva) have recently built a GPT bot that helps us write grant proposals and serves as a knowledge base for Health & Help. Through this optimization, we achieve the maximum effectiveness of valuable volunteers’ time.

How do you ensure the sustainability and long-term impact of your clinics in these Communities?

We ensure the sustainability and long-term impact of our clinics by training local healthcare workers to manage and operate them, providing employment and ensuring continued functionality even without external volunteers. Additionally, we implement comprehensive educational programs, including health education workshops on hygiene and nutrition, community seminars on chronic disease management and mental health awareness, school health initiatives teaching personal hygiene and dental care, as well as contraception and family planning programs. These programs empower community members with essential knowledge and skills for better health and self-sufficiency.

The role of volunteers

What roles are available for online volunteers, how do they contribute to your mission, and how do you manage and coordinate a global team of online volunteers effectively?

Online volunteers can take on various roles, including grant writing, marketing, graphic design, data analysis, and translation services. We coordinate our global team using project management tools (provided by organizations that support NGOs, such as TechSoup), which allows us to assign tasks, track progress, and communicate effectively regardless of time zones. Regular virtual meetings and a clear communication strategy are also key to our successful coordination. Currently, we are looking for a Volunteer Fundraising Manager and a Grant writer to join our team and help us further our mission.

Our goal is to create the most comfortable conditions for every volunteer and meet the challenges of running a global network.

We also run a separate project, which is our Spanish Language School, to effectively onboard volunteers who join us onsite in clinics.

We sustainably operate with 50+ volunteers globally.

What drives people to volunteer for Health & Help, especially when they could be working for financial gain elsewhere?

While financial gain is a significant motivator in many career choices, the decision to volunteer for Health & Help often stems from a complex mix of personal, professional, and ethical motivations. The desire to make a meaningful impact, gain personal fulfilment, develop skills, experience new cultures, build relationships, and adhere to ethical or moral beliefs all play crucial roles in driving individuals to volunteer their time and expertise. The Health & Help experience helps our volunteers to become more valuable and in-demand specialists, find a dream job or get into university to keep following their passion.

Most of our volunteers balance their assignments with regular jobs elsewhere. For me, it’s been a great experience to understand the needs of an NGO and align the impact that corporates can bring to them. I joined Health & Help to gain insight into NGO operations and streamline the corporate social responsibility programs I’m involved in.

Our volunteers have many avenues to achieve personal growth. They can challenge themselves by taking on new roles, choosing more complex and unfamiliar tasks, and offering new ideas to improve Health & Help. You can become a part of our team by visiting our website: https://he-he.org/category/jobs

How do you measure and communicate the impact of your volunteers’ contributions to them and potential new volunteers?

We measure the impact of our volunteers’ contributions through detailed reports that include patient outcomes, the number of people served, and improvements in community health metrics. These reports are shared with our volunteers and donors to keep them informed of the difference they are making. Additionally, we use success stories and testimonials from patients and volunteers to communicate impact effectively. For certain organizations, we also track volunteer hours, as their companies provide dedicated hours that can be incorporated into their work.

Raising funds

How do you approach fundraising and securing partnerships with businesses or startups?

Our support comes from companies committed to social responsibility. To them, Health & Help represents an opportunity beyond charity—a chance to contribute to a better world and the sustainable development goals (SDG), which are often a part of their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

We approach fundraising and securing partnerships with businesses and startups through a multifaceted strategy. As a female-led NGO, we attract support from female leaders and those who value gender equality. By engaging with corporations that offer volunteer hours for their employees, we build strong partnerships with corporate foundations.

Our active participation in ESG and CSR events, as well as online networks, helps us represent NGOs effectively. We maintain a robust social media presence, encouraging employees to donate and enabling their companies to match those donations. Additionally, we are deeply involved with local donors and communities. We are also working to engage with Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), such as Spanish communities, to participate in corporate events and maximize donations.

For investors, we offer a compelling opportunity to balance their impact investments, and we ensure complete transparency in our financial reports.

Security and transparency are our key strategies for maintaining long-term relationships with businesses. We care about building trust with our donors, partners, volunteers, and all those who follow our work. This is why we gather all of our data each year, carefully account for every dollar we’ve spent, and draw key conclusions every 12 months. These numbers and bullet points are then turned into an annual report. Anyone can go to our website and download the report

We believe that for effectively engaging with potential donors and partners it is quite important to present an inspiring mission and measurable Impact. 9 years of sustainable growing infrastructure and more than 15 000 people, who received treatment in places where it is difficult or impossible to get medical care – these significant results we achieve together with our supporters.

Helpful strategies and tools

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to incorporate social responsibility into their business models?

Incorporating social responsibility into your business model from the very beginning is essential, and I would recommend starting with a clear definition of your company’s core values. Identify the principles most important to your business and explore how these can align with global sustainable development goals.

As you embed these values into your operations, consider ethical sourcing, sustainable practices, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement as integral components. These are not just checkboxes but are central to how your business operates day-to-day. By taking this approach, you ensure that your business not only talks about making a difference but actively participates in making it happen.

Moreover, it’s vital to focus on your stakeholders—employees, customers, suppliers, and the broader community. Analyze how you can have a positive impact on these groups and minimize any negative effects. Think strategically about which actions could have the most significant impact. For instance, you can create a culture of social responsibility within your organization by empowering employees to contribute ideas and volunteer their time. Converting volunteer hours into donations through platforms like Benevity is one powerful way to engage. contact me, if you would like to collaborate in it to deliver support to Health & Help!

Remember, social responsibility is a continuous journey, not a one-off task. It requires ongoing dedication to your mission, adaptability to face evolving challenges and opportunities, and a commitment to continuously strive for a positive societal impact.

Lastly, make sure to track and measure your efforts. What gets measured gets managed. This will help you evaluate the current state of your business and prioritize your investments effectively, ensuring that your approach to social responsibility remains both dynamic and impactful.

Can you discuss any specific strategies or tools that have been particularly effective in managing your remote teams? 

We actively introduce the principles of a data-driven culture to rely not on intuition or experience but on analytics when making decisions. We track the effectiveness of the channels for filling specific positions, monitor changes in sentiment within the organization, respond to them on time, and consider them during planning. In the past year, we did a lot of work to simplify the onboarding system and the adaptation of new online volunteers, and we continue to do so.

In our work, one-on-one meetings are extremely helpful. When working online, misunderstandings can often arise in written communications or during group calls. Individual meetings allow us to resolve communication issues, identify potential problems in task execution by volunteers, monitor motivation, provide mutual feedback, and build trustful relationships overall.

How do you balance the operational challenges of running a non-profit with the need for innovation and growth, similar to a startup?

Balancing the operational hurdles of a non-profit with the drive for innovation and expansion requires a strategic blend of efficiency, adaptability, and creativity.

First of all, it is quite important to develop a clear mission and vision statement that guides both day-to-day operations and long-term goals. As well as create a strategic plan that outlines objectives, priorities, and action steps for achieving growth while staying true to the organization’s core mission.

Another crucial consideration is to stay agile and responsive to changing needs, trends, and challenges in the non-profit sector and the communities served embrace a learning mindset, encourage experimentation, and be willing to pivot or adjust strategies as needed.

Health & Help`s team is people from all around the world and everyone brings his skills, experience, and motivation to our growth. We encourage our staff and volunteers to think creatively, experiment with new ideas, embrace change, and collaborate with other non-profits, academic institutions, businesses, and government agencies to leverage resources, share best practices and explore innovative solutions.

Dream big

What are your future goals for Health & Help, and how do you plan to expand or enhance your services?

In three years, our organization envisions sustainable operations for all clinics and across the entire organization, maintaining financial stability with an emergency reserve to swiftly respond to crises. Additionally, we aim to initiate a third clinic project during this period (dream big!). 

How can startups and businesses partner with Health & Help to make a meaningful impact?

You have the power to make a difference in Health & Help’s mission by supporting us directly through personal donations or on behalf of your company. Visit our website at www.he-he.org to make a contribution, or reach out to me directly to explore potential collaboration opportunities. Together, we can create a positive impact on healthcare access and outcomes for underserved communities.

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