This Columbus Startup Aims to Bring Health Insurance to Families of African Immigrants

How Fleri is providing healthcare to another continent

Even in America, healthcare and insurance can be a complicated process. Finding a provider, choosing the correct plan and understanding your coverage all provide their own challenges. Now, imagine the process when you’re working to protect people on another continent — that’s where Fleri comes in. The Columbus startup is a platform made for and by African immigrants that allows people to provide insurance to loved ones across the Atlantic.

“Fleri is an online insurance marketplace that helps immigrants and Africans from the diaspora purchase health insurance for their family back home,” said founder Sam Baddoo. “We’re creating a way for anybody with a relative or a loved one in Africa to have the peace of mind knowing that they are going to have access to quality healthcare 24/7, while at the same time saving money and supporting them. We launched a couple of months ago, so the first few months have primarily been about navigating legislation, sending word across the African diaspora and building customers and partnerships.”

Baddoo, originally from Ghana, is no stranger to entrepreneurship. He founded multiple companies while living in Ghana and co-founded workforce development startup [Re]start when he moved to the States. The ventures have been in a variety of fields, but have all been an important cause to Baddoo personally. Rather than simply chasing investment or customers, Baddoo prefers to create businesses that contribute to a better world.

“Over the last 12 years, I’ve been primarily focused on starting sustainable, impact-based initiatives,” he said. “I want there to be a social cause benefitted by our business, no matter what industry it’s in. The other businesses I’ve been involved in have had social focuses as well. Fleri has primarily been about providing access to healthcare for millions of people that otherwise wouldn’t have access. I take particular joy in building businesses that are sustainable financially, but that have significant opportunities to make an impact on the world.”

That’s what Baddoo sees for Fleri. The young startup is just beginning to find its footing and build its user base, working to get its first 150 users onto the platform before expanding its tech. And while its mission may seem relatively niche to some, Baddoo says that Fleri’s goals are supported by the 185 million Africans in the diaspora who want to improve life in their home nations. Every year, he said, about 6 million people die from a lack of access to quality care in Africa, mainly refugees and people living in rural areas. That’s a gap he believes Fleri can help close.

“African immigrants in the United States sent 48 Billion dollars to Africa in 2019 and 25 percent of that, according to the UN, is spent on healthcare related expenses and emergencies,” said Baddoo. “We set out to build Fleri with that in mind. We simply allow people to take a portion of what they’re already sending for their relatives back home and buy dedicated health insurance. It saves the immigrant money and gives them peace of mind, but it also gives their beneficiary access to quality care that they would not have had otherwise. It also begins to introduce healthcare without the burden of cost for millions of people in Africa. Years from now, I hope that we have proven that it’s possible to be able to make an impact anywhere in the world from wherever you are.”

To reach that worldwide impact, Baddoo believes he’s in the right place. He’s gone from Columbus newcomer to advocate for the central Ohio entrepreneurial scene in a short time. And when plotting the trajectory of Fleri’s future, he sees Columbus as a major component to the company’s success.

“When I moved to Columbus, I didn’t know anybody here,” he said. “What I’ve found is that it’s one of the few places that prides itself on building connections between the people who live here. Anybody can have access to the startup community, which is awesome, but it’s also the insurance capital of the country. So when it came to building Fleri, this was exactly the place to do it. The talent is here, the resources are here, the people who’ve done it in a big way are already here. The access to capital and resources has been phenomenal and my support system has been great.”

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