September 14, 2015 — Under a new student-led nonprofit aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality in South Asia, expectant mothers would receive a free box full of newborn essentials like baby clothes, diapers, and wipes, as well as health-related items such as a clean delivery kit and oral rehydration salts. The caveat: Women would only get the box—which doubles as a portable basket in which babies can sleep or play—if they agree to a prenatal checkup.
The “Barakat Bundle” project (“Barakat” means “blessing” in several languages), based on a similar box developed in Finland decades earlier, has had an award-winning start. In April, Barakat Bundle took home the $25,000 prize for runner-up in the social enterprise track at the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition, and was also chosen crowd favorite. Barakat Bundle is also a 2015 finalist at MassChallenge, one of the world’s largest accelerator programs for startups.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health doctoral student Karima Ladhani, SM ’13, developed the project last spring in Harvard Chan Professor Gordon Bloom’s Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab for US & Global Health course. She came up with the idea after reading an article about the Finnish Baby Box, which has been given free to mothers-to-be in Finland since the 1930s, also with the requirement of prenatal care.
More about Barakat Bundle here: barakatbundle.com
Karima is a current Doctor of Science candidate in Global Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She currently holds research positions with Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Department of Newborn Medicine and the Harvard Ministerial Leadership in Health Forum. She has over 5 years of global health experience with contributions to USAID, Clinton Health Access Initiative, and John Snow, Inc., focusing on strengthening health systems and maternal and child health.
Karima’s nontraditional path to public health began by obtaining undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Business from the University of Waterloo. While spending two years making strides in the private sector, she volunteered at various institutions devoted to improving public health outcomes and found herself driven by public service and interdisciplinary approaches to public health. She finds herself committed to helping mothers and giving every child a fighting chance, with a particular affinity to her roots in South Asia region.