Hayley Mundeva, global health researcher and social entrepreneur

Hayley Mundeva has worked for nearly 4 years on global health research projects based in Tanzania, Malawi and Ethiopia with AMREF, the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research and St. Michael’s Hospital. She has 2 degrees in global health and is a certified trainer in social entrepreneurship. Despite starting her career in academia, Hayley was surprised to find little information on global health organizations and career pathways. This is what sparked her interest in founding ThriveHire.

ThriveHire is an online career platform that connects people to job opportunities in the global health sector. Through customized company pages, job postings and industry-tailored tools and services, we are enabling job seekers to save time securing employment, while helping global health organizations to improve their brand visibility and find top talent in this sector. Through these centralized resources, our intention is to enable global health job seekers and organizations to connect more easily, so that ultimately, they can create the collective health impact our communities need.

Q: You started the Active Citizens Social Enterprise training being completely new to social enterprise: do you have any advice for someone who is new to social enterprise?

Regardless of whether you have a background in social entrepreneurship or not, I think the biggest thing is learning to be patient with the process and specifically, how long it can take to develop clarity over your social enterprise idea. I think it’s really easy to rush into things and get glued to certain ideas, but it’s important to recognize that you have to undergo a process to turn an idea into reality. It really takes time to survey and interview target clients to better understand what their needs are, and you have to be willing to be patient with that. When I started this, I didn’t have a business background, so it was a matter of being ok with putting my pride in my pocket and asking questions. I’m really grateful to see how many people are willing to sit down over coffee to share some of their important insights. That’s given me incredible knowledge. So it’s about being willing to enjoy the process and being patient. And the other thing I’d say is that it’s important to not let your educational background limit you. If you actually look at some of the most successful businesses and social enterprises, they are or have been led by people who didn’t have business backgrounds. So follow your gut, ask questions, don’t apologize for having an opinion, and learn to be patient during the process.

Q: What are your plans for the next year or so?

Our team was fortunate to be awarded the Active Citizens Social Enterprise Youth Innovation Award for the first cohort. With these funds, we are developing our minimum viable product, which is a simple version of our website. We’re going to be developing it for testing purposes: once we launch it at the end of this summer, we will be testing out the initial services. And within this, we will be gathering user feedback from our first clients to see what’s working well, what needs to be tweaked, what new features should be added, what needs to be scrapped, and so forth. The big priority here is to gather as many insights as possible so that we can improve our services, ensure they are addressing customer needs, and start working towards creating an improved beta product of our site by the end of next year. During this time, we have been accepted into the Social Ventures Zone, which is Ryerson University’s business accelerator. They’ve connected us to some resources and mentors who will be coaching us through this process. So those are the immediate things that are in the pipeline for ThriveHire!

Q: Have you attended any interesting events or networking activities?

I’m a firm believer that businesses are built through people, they’re not built singlehandedly. So it’s very important to network, and to do this regularly. You can’t assume that your social enterprise will simply speak for itself and that customers will come running to you, especially if they aren’t even aware of it in the first place. There’s also often an inner circle that you need to find a way to get into it, so I try to go to a social entrepreneurship or global health events every few days. There’s a lot happening at MaRS, which is a big business incubator here in Toronto, the Centre for Social Innovation, at Ryerson, the University of Toronto, tech startups around the city, and at different hospitals. I try to go to anything related entrepreneurship, whether that’s digital marketing, fundraising, or business strategy. Or I’ll attend events that are more closely related to ThriveHire, such as global health or human resource events. It is a commitment, but at the same time, walking out of those events is really exhilarating and those connections you make reinforce why you’re doing all of this.

Q: Tell us about what keeps you pushing through the hard work and stops you from giving up?

Like a lot of social entrepreneurs, I was frustrated by an experience I encountered first-hand and thought there had to be a better way of addressing this problem. I was lucky to find employment in global health research after graduating, but in spite of this, I was disappointed to discover little information out there on different ways to launch and develop a career in global health. I had a lot of conversations with colleagues who had similar experiences and were struggling to find relevant information on different career paths or job openings. On top of that, I know that a lot of global health issues are urgent right now, such as the next global outbreak of disease, antibiotic resistance or links between pollution and health. These challenges are getting lots of funding right now. So it’s not a matter of the jobs not being there, they are, it’s about organizing this whole sector better so that we can make it more efficient and enable job seekers and employers to connect more easily. That is really what is motivating and pushing me to create a user friendly platform like ThriveHire that can connect people to opportunities in this important sector.

Q: Any last thoughts?

Just bringing it back to the ACSE program, I think programmes like this can nudge and encourage people to continue exploring their really important ideas. I think undergoing the ACSE programme is a way to get connected to like-minded social innovators and, of course, to learn more about the nuances of social entrepreneurship. All in all, it was encouraging and validating to be selected to attend the Summit and it was fun to be a trainer this past year, which let me see a lot of driven, enthusiastic participants this year develop social enterprises. It was a great experience and I would always encourage people to attend similar programmes and find ways to keep learning and getting their ideas out there.

Interviewers: ACSE Team