These five Black woman-owned startups are revolutionizing maternal healthcare

BY Preta Peace Namasaba February 20, 2024 5:44 AM EDT
Black women founders are revolutionizing maternal healthcare. Photo credit: CanvasRebel Magazine

Motherhood can be a wonderful and empowering experience for many women, but also overwhelming for some. Black women in the United States encounter alarming maternal health disparities. Research shows that Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth and less likely to receive adequate pain management. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes this disparity to underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias.

Further research shows that Black women are more likely to be uninsured, encounter greater financial barriers to health care and are less likely to have access to quality, culturally competent maternity care. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the social determinants of health with Black women hit the hardest by job losses and lack of child care options. To counter these challenges, Black women founders are harnessing technology to transform maternity care through education, meditation, and maternal health, among others.

BlackStars News highlights five Black woman owned startups that are revolutionizing maternal healthcare.

1. Aster
Watching her family in distress as her nephew was born, FiFi Kara was determined to make a change. She quit her job as design manager, of health at Meta to found Aster, a company dedicated to addressing maternal health challenges. The company connects women with service providers, such as midwives and OB/GYN doctors in their network. Kara created the Aster app to help women keep track of their pregnancy, communicate with a care team on the app and book appointments and remote monitoring. It provides continuous at-home monitoring for mothers pre and post-natal, 24/6 support, and accessible clinical guidance.

2. Navigate Maternity
Ariana McGee has experienced first-hand the defects of a process that inhibits the self-advocacy of Black women. She would have lost her fourth child in 2020 due to medical negligence had she not produced a doctor’s notice. McGee founded Navigate Maternity, a remote monitoring platform facilitating equitable prenatal and postpartum care for pregnant women. Its software platform pairs with an FDA-cleared wearable to connect providers with patient data in real time which allows care teams to appropriately intervene before catastrophe. The platform also includes virtual mental health screening, questionnaires, and postpartum care.

3. Villie
Ville is revolutionizing the way expecting and new parents connect, raise funds, receive gifts, and relate with their loved ones in today’s digital world. Founded by Kimberly Jolasun, the company’s mission to support expecting and new moms through all pregnancy, birth, and other milestones is inspired by West African culture. Its platform simplifies support by creating tools that empower parents to engage their village effortlessly. Jolasun’s professional career spans seven years of project management of global clinical research trials and five years of public relations work with global brands.

4. SheMatters
Jade Kearney co-founded SheMatters while a graduate student at New York University. Initially, the company was intended to train psychologists on how to be culturally sensitive to the needs of Black women experiencing postpartum depression. It has since expanded to include other issues related to Black women and postpartum health and has partnered with healthcare systems. The startup announced a $1.5 million pre-seed investment in 2022.

5. Mahmee
Growing up, Melissa Hanna remembers dinner conversations with her mother, Linda, a registered nurse and lactation specialist. They talked about her frustration at the lack of technology support to effectively collaborate with other providers who understand the needs of Black mothers. The mother-daughter duo teamed up in 2016 and created Mahmee to bridge the gap. The company allows parents to build a care team of different obstetric, pediatric and support providers. It received $3 million in funding in 2019 and another $9.2 million series A round in 2022.