A chatbot named Raaji, that tackles sex and reproductive health questions
Project start date : 01/12/2017
Beneficiary country : Pakistan
About the project
Raaji is a chatbot powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), which provides answers on topics like safe sex practices, menstruation, menopause, STDs and STIs. In the first phase of its launch, it offers 24/7 counselling with anonymity through the app and FB messenger. Its basic objective at the start is to educate users on menstrual hygiene [&] birth control. They are two important topics in Pakistan. At first, it would be trained to answer through text replies only, but eventually speech and voice recognition capabilities will be integrated. With more partnerships, the bot is connected their users to their trusted network of NGOs, shelters, doctors [&] lawyers. It scans locations nearby for STD testing facilities [&] informs users their whereabouts. It would also map out areas with the most sex [&] reproductive health queries, and consider offline campaigns there for more awareness about Raaji. They eventually want to move towards Raaji’s ability to speak regional languages especially Pakistan’s national language, Urdu, so that girls can truly feel at ease and comfortable conversing with her. As the intelligence behind Raaji grows, they want to target more developing countries in the South Asian region, that suffer from similar taboos. In the last step, they would include facial recognition in the bot, so that mood and expressions can be recognized and in case of immediate help requirements, the right partners can be alerted.
Theur business model is sending traffic of their audience to affiliate product sites [&] trusted partners, such as pharmaceutical companies that sell birth control and contraceptives, pain management pills for PMS, local, international and organic brands that sells menstrual hygiene products such as pads, tampons and menstrual cups. After sending repeated traffic and creating a large audience and community, they want to become an e-commerce seller of all women’s health and hygiene products. However, their strategy would not be to set up a traditional store. These products are explained and marketed through their bot only. Considering they also make short animated videos about their bot and the story behind its existence, many brands want to sponsor their videos. For instance, their video about menstrual hygiene has been sponsored by UNICEF, Pollination Project and a local menstrual hygiene company. Once they gain large number of traffic, they want to sell key data and insights about health and hygiene to international NGOs such as WHO, UN Pakistan and UNICEF, brands, and contraceptive companies.
Their next steps include reaching out to medical institutes/university hospitals such as Aga Khan and forming partnerships with them so that their students can help us train Raaji on more medical topics such as STDS and STIs.
STEP 1 : Users connect with Raaji through our APP or FB messenger
STEP 2 : They communicate with her on issues that are bothering them
STEP 3 : Raaji suggests interventions depending on the problem KPI measurement metrics.
They measure their success by the following parameters: 1. No of bot users 2. No of potential leads sent to partners 3. No of Solved problems 4. Satisfaction rate of bot users 5. Session Length Market size
At the moment, they are targeting 16 million literate, urban Pakistani women. But this problem is not limited to Pakistan, indeed the same taboos exist in Bangladesh, India, Srilanka, and many other south Asian developing countries. The total population in South Asian developing countries is currently 977 million and by 2030, 85% of the world’s population will be in developing countries. This is both an important, but also large target segment.
Pakistan is the 6th most populous country in the world, and expected to grow to 210 million people by 2020. 49% of this population is made up of girls and women, and 63% of them are under 25. But here’s the problem, with such a young growing population, it’s an absolute pity that sex and reproductive rights continue to be a taboo topic. Sex education is NOT given in schools or homes. In fact, if health workers go in rural areas to distribute reproductive health information, brochures or contraceptives, they are shunned and sometimes even murdered. This means that critical information about safe sex, menstrual hygiene and birth control is not passed on to this huge audience. This results in 79% of Pakistani women not managing their periods hygienically. 130,000+ people living with HIV and many more with various untested/unresolved cases of STDs and STIs. Since only 35% of Pakistani women know about birth control, the rest end up not using any contraceptives. And that leads to 48% pregnancies, which are entirely unintended and end up being aborted unsafely in shady pop up clinics. This lack of sex education is also one of the biggest reason of child abuse in religious schools of Pakistan, harassment on streets and premeditated rapes. Oppressors don’t know they are violating another person, while the victim is not empowered and educated about the topic enough to raise a voice. All of this simply can be reversed with prevention and education. With technology, especially a CHATBOT, that can be downloaded at home, conversed with privately, there is no need to send health workers and risk their lives. Issues can be resolved and confusions can be solved simply by asking the bot questions as you would a best friend. In fact, a bot will offer no judgement or shame, and only make sure your worries are taken care of. According to theur surveys, girls feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts, worries with a bot than they do with an adult, teacher, parent or human.
Bots are the future of market research as they provide personal, trackable, scalable conversations and insights directly from the target audience
Chatbots can provide value in the places where users already spend their time – Facebook and Whatsapp
5% of companies worldwide said they were using chatbots regularly in 2016, 20% were piloting them, and 32% were planning to use or test them in 2017.
According to a HubSpot, 47% of shoppers are open to buying items from a bot. They have some competitors in the market, but they are very early stage and focus on one topic only. Most are focused for a western audience and only one (SOPHIE BOT) is really targeting a developing country. Regarding offline usage, they hope in the coming years to integrate Raaji with SMS, so that conversations can happen without having internet or a smart phone.
1 Full-Time equivalents
2 Service providers
Number of beneficiaries since launch