North Texas Daily

TAMS students’ nonprofit supplies medical aid

TAMS students’ nonprofit supplies medical aid

TAMS students’ nonprofit supplies medical aid
February 06
00:16 2014

Matt Wood // Staff Writer

In a small alcove of Sycamore Library, two TAMS students lay out papers and get to work.

Behind them on two angled whiteboards they have their school and work divided. On the left, equations for their chemistry test an hour away. On the right is a business model for the duo’s international nonprofit organization.

First-year TAMS students Alberto Him and Arun Yagnamurthy founded EverCare Medical, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to purchase medical supplies for hospitals in Venezuela.

The two students raised money for the supplies by recently selling “College Survival Kits” to UNT students, containing simple over-the-counter medicine, and donating the profits to the cause.

EverCare’s Beginnings

Him, who is studying to become a surgeon, identified the need for medical supplies while living in Venezuela.

His aunt worked as a doctor in a free clinic where he witnessed her have to turn people away because of a lack of medical supplies like antibiotics, chemotherapy rounds and gauzes.

“Whenever we came to TAMS, I knew I wanted to do something about this problem,” Him said. “I knew [Yagnamurthy] had experience with charitable causes.”

As a Boy Scout, Yagnamurthy did his Eagle Scout project at a nonprofit organization called Dallas Life and plans to study business to help charitable causes.

“I’ve pretty much been immersed in volunteerism and all of that,” he said.

The two have been friends since middle school and their different skillsets made them ideal business partners for an organization that was half business, half medicine.

At the beginning of the fall semester, Him and Yagnamurthy came to the College of Business’s Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship with the idea for EverCare Medical. There, Murphy Center Director Tony Mendes told them to develop and research the idea’s potential.

“I gave them a task, like I always do with students,” he said. “First of all, do you know if there’s a market for it? And second, what is your revenue model?”

Their first idea was to take expired medical supplies, which are actually good for a year past their labeled date, from local hospitals and ship them to Venezuela.

However, this proved to be cost-inefficient. Yagnamurthy said it would cost about $900 to ship 50 pounds of medical equipment

“We realized it would be much better to go to Venezuela with the money and actually buy supplies over there,” Yagnamurthy said. “That way you’re helping the economy and the people over there, and you’re ensuring the supplies get in the right hands.”

Medical supplies also cost much less in Venezuela than they do in the U.S., Yagnamurthy said.

First Success

Once they had a plan to get the supplies to the hospitals, the duo devised a revenue model allowing them to increase awareness and raise funds.

The two found a need to fulfill during the peak of flu season. They created the “College Survival Kit,” which contains several over-the-counter medications to help alleviate basic ailments students catch during flu season.

Him and Yagnamurthy eventually received the capital they needed to start the business by entering the Murphy Center IDEA competition, winning $250 for the concept of EverCare medical.

Most of the money was added to donations, with some being used to help set up a website for the organization.

The supplies for the first 30 kits they assembled were donated by Wal-Mart—they sold out in four hours. The kits were available for $16, double what they cost to produce.

“People not only bought it for the convenience, but because it was also for a good cause,” Him said.

Using a one-for-one business model similar to TOMS shoe company, they used half of the revenue to pay for expenses and donated the other half.

With this success, Him went to Venezuela in December and used the $500 in profit to buy almost $3,000 worth of medical supplies.

“It was really life-changing,” Him said. “I could actually see the result of our efforts and I could see how much the help was needed.”

After the first trip, word of the group spread and several other hospitals contacted EverCare to set up similar partnerships. They are currently working with five different hospitals and have set a fundraising goal of $12,000 by June, which is when they plan to return to Venezuela.

“Hopefully we can meet that goal and really make a difference,” Him said.

Next Steps

Him and Yagnamurthy are now planning to enter the Murphy Center Venture Creation contest, which offers up to $40,000 in start-up money for innovative business ventures.

The duo often meets with Mendes to discuss the future of EverCare.

“I’ve been very impressed with them,” Mendes said. “They’re very entrepreneurial, they’re extremely determined. They’ve done a good job of not only having a business model, but making contacts in these countries they want to help.”

Mendes said a main short-term goal is to lower the cost of putting together the kits by getting medical supplies either donated or in bulk rates. He said the kits are an important aspect of the model because it helps the organization from multiple angles.

“Our students at UNT benefit by having all these medications available and it’s also going to a good cause,” he said. “When they purchase one of these kits, someone in a developing part of the world is benefiting.”

Feature photo: TAMS students Alberto Him and Arun Yagnamurthy talk about  the nonprofit organization EverCare Medical. The organization raises funds to purchase medical supplies for hospitals in Venezuela. Photo by Trevor Garza / Intern Photographer

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