Transparent Hands, A Female Entrepreneur Transforming Pakistan’s Healthcare Sector

ByNayab Iqbal

Access to quality and affordable healthcare services remains a major concern, especially for underprivileged individuals in Pakistan. Transparent Hands, a crowdfunding platform, is one of the most prominent initiatives taken with the sole purpose of bridging the existing gap in the healthcare sector of Pakistan. The brainchild of Rameeza Mueen, Transparent Hands provides free treatments and surgeries to the economically deprived class in the country. This article explores the inspirational journey of Rameeza Mueen, the CEO of Transparent Hands, who leaves no stone unturned to transform the country’s healthcare sector. 

Transparents Hands Global Crowd-fundign platform
Rameeza Mueen, CEO Transparent Hands

Mueen acquired her early education in Lahore and received an M.Phil. degree in English Linguistics from the University of Karachi. During her formative years, Mueen never thought of becoming an entrepreneur as she was content with her career in academia, where she contributed for fifteen years. During this time, she worked as the Head of a Cambridge branch of the City School for six years. She was about to be promoted to the post of principal when she decided to give up her career to pursue her entrepreneurial journey. 

As a child, Mueen was highly inspired by her mother, a doctor and the founder of a leading social security hospital in Asia. The 600-bed social security hospital caters to the healthcare needs of factory labourers and their family members. Mueen grew up seeing her mother working day and night to build and expand that hospital over the period of 40 years. What changed Mueen’s perspective on life was her mother’s utmost dedication to working for the deprived individuals who couldn’t afford basic healthcare facilities. 

At a young age, Mueen got a chance to visit the medical camps set up by her mother to conduct free medical checkups for poor people. As a child, she often questioned why people would visit those camps for medical screening instead of going to established hospitals. She eventually found the answer to this question as she grew up, which exposed her to a harsh reality that people in Pakistan had to live with. She realised that a country with more than 200 million population only had 119 government hospitals. She couldn’t let go of the thought that in Pakistan 75 million individuals live below the poverty line, so there is no way they could afford healthcare services, especially access to timely and affordable surgical treatments. She continued her research and found that even for children, there was only one hospital for surgeries, which was located in Lahore. As a result, when children come for surgeries, they must wait for a year or more for their turn. Moreover, due to a lack of access to resources for timely treatment, most people relying upon the existing government hospitals end up developing more severe diseases and complications. 

Therefore, after being exposed to the deplorable state of the country’s healthcare sector, Mueen decided to do something to improve the situation at hand. The primary issue was the lack of access to quality and affordable healthcare, especially safe and affordable surgical procedures. Mueen discovered that while many expats were willing to donate to such causes, the major hurdle was the lack of transparency that could guarantee them that their donation will be utilised for the right cause. Mueen, with her brother’s help, decided to develop a platform that could help provide transparency to anyone willing to donate to the healthcare cause. 

Mueen started collaborating with the technology team as her primary goal was to develop a transparent and reliable technology platform. Side by side, Mueen, her brothers, and their small team started working on a government-funded Plan9 incubation as they wanted the space and initial budget to start working. Finally, their efforts paid off when Mueen and her team were selected as one of the 18 teams among 1800 companies that applied for that government-funded incubation plan. As they were selected, the government gave them the space, the salaries for five employees, and laptops and provided them with the relevant training to start their entrepreneurial initiative. 

Mueen’s initial challenge was establishing a team who could understand and contribute to her vision. Eventually, she hired her first employee, a patient coordinator responsible for bringing in the patients. The Transparent Hands team also started collaborating with private hospitals and selected the list of hospitals that agreed to provide the surgeries to their patients at subsidised rates. The team did not go to the government hospitals as they realised that they already had a surplus of patients and could not cater to the patient’s needs.

Another challenge the team encountered was bringing the patients during the initial phase due to the lack of trust in the patients, who were reluctant to trust a newly established team willing to provide them with free surgeries. With time, due to their sheer commitment, the team built a rapport among the masses and the patients started coming in. During the six months in the incubation centre, Mueen and her team successfully conducted 40 surgeries. 

After the incubation ended, Mueen started working on the website’s content that primarily focused on the success stories of the 40 patients who underwent surgeries. Mueen took complete responsibility for planning and developing the website content, devising policies, and establishing procedures. As the Transparent Hands team succeeded, she hired the content team for their website content. During the initial phase, the entire team worked tirelessly to bring more and more hospitals on board, convince more patients for surgeries, and conduct medical camps. And now, Transparent Hands holds frequent medical camps all across Pakistan. So far, the organisation has successfully conducted 135 medical camps and made possible the surgeries and treatment of 52,000 patients. 

Transparent Hands poster free consultation medical camp in Multan
Free eye check up in medical camp Multan
Transparent Hands poster - patients receiving free treatment

Currently, 41 private hospitals in the country are working with Transparent Hands to provide surgeries to needy people. Mueen’s vision continues to achieve milestones as Transparent Hands is constantly expanding and the team is now considering developing their own hospital. As the next ten years’ goal, Mueen aims to establish three hospitals; the first one in Lahore, the next in Karachi, and the third one in Islamabad so that their patients can be treated in their hospitals without any hassle. 

Another challenge that Mueen encountered, specifically during the initial days of her entrepreneurial journey, was developing and implementing a successful marketing plan. While marketing remains an ongoing challenge, Mueen has learned to get recognition for her organisation. She accepts not having a separate marketing budget as a major mistake she made during the initial phase. However, she started collaborating with companies that could contribute to the organisation’s goals through their CSR plans. And this is how she was successful in bringing companies on board. Their constant dedication to ensuring procedural transparency helped the Transparent Hands team gain trust and made their place a reliable crowdfunding healthcare-based platform. From developing timely audit reports to making all information transparent, the Transparent Hands team went the extra mile in establishing a trustful relationship with companies, hospitals, and individuals who are passionate about contributing to their cause in any way they can. 

Donation poster - Transparent Hands
A boy in blue hoodie - donation poster
support our free Sanghar Medical Camp with $10

Mueen’s entrepreneurial journey sets an exceptional example for all aspiring entrepreneurs, especially females who are often scared to take the first step, sometimes due to a lack of support or constant social pressure and criticism. Like any other entrepreneur, Mueen also had her share of struggles. As she did not have a background in entrepreneurship, she put in all her efforts to develop and hone her entrepreneurial and technological skills. She took training and remained steadfast in overcoming her weaknesses and changing them into her biggest strength. 

Mueen believes that establishing a charitable organisation in Pakistan is not easy. The whole process, from registration to tax exemption, requires time, patience, and constant struggle. However, with her commitment, she has been able to transform her dreams into reality. What started with a team of five people has now developed into a highly recognised crowdfunding organisation. Transparent Hands now has a head office in Lahore, a sub-office in Karachi, and another in Islamabad. Not only that but Transparent Hands is also registered in US and UK and have a full-fledged team working from there. 

Tranparent Hands – Future Plans 

When asked about her future plans for Transparent Hands, Mueen stated that while they currently have a huge network of private hospitals providing all kinds of surgeries to needy patients, she wishes to increase the number of patients receiving their services. She believes many people still need timely medical treatment and their needs remain unmet due to budget constraints. Mueen’s next ten years’ goal includes increasing the number of surgeries to at least a hundred thousand surgeries per year. In the next ten years, she also wishes to establish a network of five to six hospitals in the country. 

When asked about her experience of starting from scratch as a female entrepreneur in Pakistan, Mueen shares that it has been quite an overwhelming journey for her as most people have welcomed her and offered all the support she needed. She shares how people acknowledge her and her team’s contribution to redefining the meaning of access to healthcare in the country. Mueen advises the young generation aspiring to become entrepreneurs to show devotion and persistence to the cause they believe in, no matter how difficult it initially seems, if they really wish to create a difference and leave a legacy behind. 

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