Toyosi Ogunmekan is a “warrior”! Yes, she is a Sickle Cell warrior who got involved in business because she noticed shortcomings in the healthcare system. Instead of getting beaten by the system, Toyosi decided to roll up her sleeves and make an impact.
She started a business in medical technology, Toyo Medical Techs where she provides a range of healthcare products used to diagnose, monitor or treat a disease or medical condition. It includes medical devices, information technology, biotechnology, and healthcare services. SLA contributor Ugochi Obidiegwu caught up with her recently to understand her drive.

What led you to start your business?

After my post graduate in biomedical engineering, I fell in love with the idea of applying engineering principles to medicine. As a regular hospital visitor, being SS, I was very dissatisfied with our Nigerian healthcare system.
I felt we needed to do a lot more technologically to meet up with foreign standards. Hence, the birth of Toyo Medical Techs.

What has been your experience as a woman and SS in your line of business?

Every business, especially at the start-up stage is very stressful and challenging. In my business, I have to do a lot of running around and drive long distances. There are days I feel overwhelmed and break down, there are also days I get comments like “I love what you do, keep it up” and that just makes my day.
It’s been a bitter-sweet experience so far and I’m excited for what is to come.

What is the impact of your business activities on your health?

Doctors advise their sickle cell patients to avoid all forms of stress, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s an “SS-thing” we tend to be very stubborn and still act like we can do it all. Maybe we are trying to prove we’re not as weak as people think we are. Well there are days I suffer the aftermath of over stretching myself. I also thank God for family and friends who tend to “scold” me when I’m over doing it.
Some 2/3 years ago I was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip (it’s a common complication in sickle cell patients). My doctor recommended I do a lot of physiotherapy, avoid standing and sitting for too long, etc.
But you know Lagos and all the traffic, sometimes I sit in traffic for hours! And when I get home, the pain I usually experience from that hip! OMG! It’s unexplainable. Still I’ve been able to understand my body and figure out how to balance my health and work.
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What’s your advice to others with your health challenge?

My advice to other warriors is for them to be religious with their medications, avoid as much stress as possible, stay hydrated, understand their bodies; know when to slow down and join support groups.
I run an awareness page on Instagram @thewarriorstoryng where I share tips and  stories of other warriors to inspire others. I’m also a member of the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF).

From your entrepreneurship experience, what would you advice someone about to start?

Be passionate about your dreams and don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t do it.
When one client says no, it doesn’t mean you should be discouraged, move on. And most importantly, pray.

What myths about Sickle Cell disorder annoy you?

A lot of people are still ignorant about the disorder and think warriors don’t live long. There are a lot of warriors that live up to 90+

What are your plans for 2017?

Hmmm… to stay healthy, get that beach body, I pray. I want to keep creating awareness on sickle cell disorder and keep pushing my business forward.

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