A year in Docneto’s Professional life — 2022

Ikpeme Neto
8 min readDec 28, 2022

I spent a lot of my 2022 professional life travelling and doing a lot of speaking and events.

It started out in January with the techpoint event where I was on a panel speaking about healthcare. I also got to judge the health startup competition and attend the award show as a nominee for best healthcare startup of the year. We didn’t win the award, 54gene did.

Me at Techpoint events

Next stop was Nairobi for Africa Tech summit where I connected with many friends and colleagues for the first time since covid. The hangouts and afterparty was lit. Made connections in Nairobi that led directly to investments. It taught me the importance of showing up in person when fundraising. Zoom only diminishes the ability to build relationships. I learned this year that jumping on a plane can make a huge difference. Shout out to Zuri health for hooking me up!

Zoom might be limiting but it’s also simultaneously empowering. It saved me so much when I got invited to speak in 2 places at once. Rather than turn down a speaking opportunity, I’d opt to speak virtually. This is one thing the pandemic has brought, the acceptability of hybrid events.

A selection of virtual events I spoke at

In May, I keynoted the African professional network of Ireland’s business pitch competition, Lion’s den, in Dublin. I spoke about my journey since winning the same competition 5 years previously and the many stripes I’ve earned along the way.

Keynote speaking at the APNI lion’s den event

In the summer, I jumped on a plane to Stockholm after several flight cancellations and long delays to speak at a Norrsken and UN event. I spoke about the work we do at Wellahealth and how it’s key so the wellbeing of millions of Africa.

Speaking at Norrsken/ UN event. Click image to see the video

Norrseken were kind enough to select our work as a promising impact startup and put us up on Times Square.

September brought more travel and speaking opportunities. The first was at the HFN conference at Medic West Africa. This was an interesting one as I’d been so busy working and travelling that I hadn’t really prepared the talk. It didn’t help that I was lacking inspiration on what to speak about so I left it to the last minute. I was literally completing my slides on the bolt ride to the event. Lagos traffic and Nigerian airline tardiness had conspired to deliver me to the event location 15 minutes before my talk. I went from the ride to the stage in what felt like a jiffy. Probably a good thing as I didn’t have time to fret about the presence of the honourable commissioners of health from several states who were guests of honour at the event. Thankfully the talk went well and I left with many new friends and contacts in the industry.

Presenting at the HFN conference
Video of the HFN presentation

The next day, I spoke at the business of healthcare conference where I spoke about innovation in practice and highlighted a number of African health innovations making a difference.

Video of my presentation at the healthcare business conference

The next day after this conference, I half unexpectedly (long story) jumped on a long haul flight to Manila to take part in a microinsurance immersion program at one of the global leaders in microinsurance. Manila was a phenomenal experience. Fillipinos are easily the most hospitable people I’ve ever come across. They also know how to do microinsurance, well! I learned many lessons.

Airports and airplanes were the bane of my existence for most of the year. In one episode, I did 5 airports and airplane changes within 96 hours. I recall waking up on more than one occasion and having to take a few minutes to answer the questions, ‘Who am I?’, ‘where am I?’, ‘what’s my purpose today?’. The constant travel was becoming disorienting.

Photos from airports in the UK, France and Nigeria

By the time October came around, I swore I was done. My passport had only 2 blank pages despite having 2 years till expiry. There was to be no more travel for me, well that was until Google came calling. I’d been selected earlier in the year for their black founders fund and spoke at the launch event in Maitama, Abuja, a stone throw away from where I went to secondary school.

The graduation event would be in Kigali, a city I’d never been to but always wanted to visit. It was too phenomenal an experience to pass up so up in the air I went again. Kigali was an excellent experience catching up with old and new friends, founders and investors.

Me speaking at the Google black founders fund launch event on the left, in Kigali at graduation event on the right

I raced from Kigali to Lagos to make the Insurtech business series conference where I connected with more old and new friends working in Nigerian insurtech. I missed my speaking slot thanks again to Lagos traffic and airline tardiness but being able to put faces to the industry personalities I’d previously connected with virtually was priceless.

With old and new friends at the Insurtech business series conference

This was a short summary of the main highlights of the year. There were many more things and stories that filled the year and made it into a tough roller coaster. Other stuff I got up to during the year:

I did several media appearances on TV and radio

I undertook several hospital and clinic tours to see things for myself and also share with the world the many good things Nigerian healthcare providers are doing. They give me a lot of hope and are a resillient and ambitious bunch.

A selection of facilities I visited in the year

I opened up a wellahealth office in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. Glad there’s Ibom air that’s opened up the state to this kind of investment opportunity.

I squeezed in some leisure time during travels, travelling with my 4 year old on one occasion, visiting the British museum in London and visiting Chelsea football club when I noticed it was a short walk from my London hotel while I visited for an event.

I judged a business competition by wennovation hub in Abuja and visited tech hubs in Uyo and Ikot ekpene

Was delighted to be able to organize a meetup of health tech folks in London. I was pleasantly surprised by the interest in it and will plan more regular London events for folks in Nigerian health tech.

Attendees of the Nigerian health tech meetup in London

With the full return of travel, my 2022 was full of travel and reconnecting with new and old friends. I did a lot of speaking and appearances that left me rather drained. 2023 should see me do a lot less travel and events if all goes to plan. I plan to focus on my work at Wellahealth and a couple of side projects. I will still however be taking on a limited number of webinars, media appearances, health facility tours and speaking invitations. Please reach out to my EA early to check my availability.

Despite how tough it can be sometimes, I’m living the dream in many ways and I’m always grateful to be able to wake up daily and make a go at making healthcare affordable and accessible in Africa.