An Entrepreneur’s Journey of Impact
Peace and Aline took different paths after graduating from Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST) in 2015. Peace has pursued her master's in healthcare, and Aline has graduated with her master's in mechanical engineering. The two Gashora sisters work together at Lifesten Health, where Peace is the co-founder, and Aline leads products and partnerships. Lifesten Health is a healthcare app that has served over 10,000 people in Rwanda. In this two-part series, we first introduce you to Peace. She shares how she started her own business, the importance of quality education for girls, and how Gashora Girls Academy was foundational to her success.
Would you please introduce yourself?
My name is Peace Ndoli Iraguha, and I am from the GGAST Class of 2015, where I studied PCM (Math-Physics-Chemistry). One of my hobbies is reading, which I have always loved because it wakes up your innovation and lets you approach life differently. One of my favorite authors is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, one of the best storytellers we have on the continent, not to mention her work on feminism which has impacted many girls, myself included.
Where did you attend university and what did you study?
I studied Human Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Rwanda (U.R.). I intended to stay at U.R. briefly before transferring to the United States Airforce Academy to study aeronautical engineering. However, during my clinical placement as a nutritionist intern, I discovered my joy in helping people with their health conditions, leading to my true calling in healthcare.
I decided instead to pursue my master's degree at the University of Global Health Equity, focusing on Gender, Sexual, and Reproductive Health. Choosing the track came from my passion for ensuring that healthcare is equitable for individuals facing barriers due to gender, sexual orientation, or reproductive health needs. My understanding of the importance of equity in healthcare allows me to advocate for policies and programs that promote gender equity and ensure all individuals have access to quality healthcare.
Why is quality education for girls important?
I attribute my current position and achievements to the quality education I received. Quality education is critical in addressing gender inequality, providing the necessary skills for professional success, and instilling confidence, courage, and fearlessness in individuals to pursue their aspirations. Education is a crucial foundation for empowering girls and women. Through such education, we can bridge the gender gap, increase opportunities for all, and foster a brighter future for future generations.
How did attending Gashora Girls Academy prepare you for your future?
Attending an all-girls high school remains one of the most memorable experiences of my life. GGAST provided a nurturing, accepting, and empowering atmosphere, allowing me to grow and develop into who I am today. This environment fostered my personal growth, giving me a better understanding of myself, and I became more self-assured. One of the most significant benefits was learning from my peers, who taught me the importance of sisterhood, looking out for and empowering one another to reach our full potential. I also learned how to be a supportive community member and help others grow, which has proven to be an invaluable skill throughout my life. I cherish the memories and lessons learned from that time and am thankful for the friends I still have today.
You co-founded Lifesten Health, a healthcare App. Can you share your mission and what the app is for.
Lifesten Health provides personalized and remote preventive healthcare services ranging from remote digital health screening of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and daily healthcare challenges to creating support groups using digital health tech (Lifesten App). This hybrid intervention is embedded in understanding behavior science and gamification features. By integrating artificial intelligence and partnering with health and wellness providers, Lifesten Health can offer an incentive-based health platform that rewards people for being healthy and brings remote diagnostics capabilities for cardiovascular health to the Lifesten app users. Our mission is to bring awareness to NCDs by helping individuals improve their overall health and wellness through incentive-based wellness programs. We have now impacted more than ten thousand people in Rwanda as an organization.
How was this idea born?
This idea was born while working as a nutritionist. One of my favorite clients was Asha, who was was overweight and suffered from high blood pressure. I was able to help her live a normal life with the right interventions and knowledge. This experience inspired me to focus on prevention rather than treatment, as many people in developing countries seek healthcare only when the disease is in its advanced stages. One of the most common phrases I heard from patients was, "I wish I had known earlier," which made me realize that I needed to do more. I began participating in programs that focused on prevention rather than management. Looking at the numbers, six out of ten people in Rwanda die due to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), contributing to 55% of current NCDs hospital admissions. These numbers worried me, and I devised ideas to solve the problem. The process sped up after meeting my co-founder, who has lived with this disease and was working on a similar solution. After three months of sharing research findings and long nights of brainstorming, we formed Lifesten.
Who has inspired you?
My inspiration comes from all girls and women who wake up daily and work hard to break the biases and claim their place. I am fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing sisterhood of resilient and strong women who inspire me to improve daily. I want to recognize one particularly inspiring individual, H.E. Ms. Paula Ingabire, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology. Her work inspires me, as she is purposeful in her efforts to bridge the gender gap and simultaneously fosters innovation through empathic leadership in our systems.