Social Responsibility – it’s something lot of us have in the back of our minds but rarely act on. Unfortunately, this is the case with blood donation. We all know that donating blood saves lives, but so few of us follow through.
Cesar, founder of Mexican startup Blooders is only too aware of this. In 2013, he set up Blooders, the first blood platform in Mexico. Since then, Blooders has been transforming the blood donation process, making it easier and more accessible.
A few years on, and Blooders has saved an impressive 39,501 lives through the voluntary donation of blood.
As Cesar told us, Mexico is one of the many countries that struggle with blood donation culture. In fact, only 3% of blood donations in the country are made ‘altruistically‘ and 97% are made to friends and family. In other words, people hold off on donating until they’re personally affected.
Of course, it’s a statistic the pandemic has not helped. Earlier this year, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued a warning that Latin American countries were at risk of facing a blood shortage for transfusions during Covid-19, a challenge that Cesar and the team are determined to overcome.
We caught up with Cesar to find out more about the Blooder’s journey and how the team is making blood donation happen despite the pandemic through their new partnership with Uber.
Cesar shares the Blooders Story
“We started in 2013. At the time I was working in hospital administration and that’s where I had the opportunity to meet Carlos. He told me that he needed a blood donation for his wife. She was very sick with Leukemia and he asked me if I’d lend a hand.
At that point in my life I’d never donated blood before – nobody in my family had ever needed it and it’s one of those things you don’t pay a lot of attention to until it presents itself to you.
For me it was very easy to say to him: ‘Carlos, I’ll take a look at what I can do and I’ll lend you a hand’. Problem solved.
With how busy I was with work and all the things I needed to get done I didn’t help Carlos, I didn’t donate blood. And, after three weeks Carlos came to me and told me that his wife had passed away.
So the first thing I did was go to donate blood but it was an awful experience. The process took 6 hours, it was a very inefficient but I thought perhaps it was just this hospital so I want to give it another chance.
I went to another place and it was a similar experience. I thought this is an area of opportunity, nobody should have to waste 6 hours doing this when it could be 45 minute process.”
It was then that the idea for Blooders came about. Coincidentally, at the same time Cesar’s brother Javier had been working on an online platform to connect supply and demand in the construction industry.
They quickly saw the potential to do something similar with blood donation, to create a platform that connects people looking to donate blood with the people that need it.
Blooders Share Party with Microsoft
The Business Model behind Blooders
Blooders is a social enterprise. They develop the technology behind blood donation campaigns and also offer a complete blood donation system for which they already have 30 clients. They also work with companies looking to make a positive social impact and have collaborated with over 350 so far.
Something Blooders is becoming increasingly well-known for is their share parties: social responsibility programs that are easy to implement and save lives. So far, the team has run over 500 of them. The share parties are open to all but Femsa, Microsoft and Cemex are amongst those companies who’ve already taken part.
Of course, the team also focused on education, they believe that helping people to understand the process of blood donation is the only way to change the culture – to make more people see the value of giving blood and actively donate. That’s why, as well as share parties, they have created Blooders EDU, a training program for future volunteer blood donors.
Students from 6 to 18 years old, are given the knowledge and skills to become a superhero and save lives. The team firmly believes that young people are the promoters of social change.
The program was born a couple of years ago in Monterrey, where they’ve already trained more than 4,000 students. They’re soon planning on taking their trainings digital to cover more states in Mexico and expand to Latin America.
Moving what Matters with Uber
The team say they feel lucky that many companies reach out to them through a desire to have a positive impact. However, the pandemic has made the process more difficult.
Pre-pandemic, the Blooders team went directly to companies’ offices for share parties, saying that it was easier to change people’s mindset surrounding blood donation since everyone was in one place.
With home office, it’s not that easy, but they’re still determined to make blood donation happen. To do that, Blooders teamed up with Uber to offer discount rides to those voluntarily donating blood. It’s a campaign to directly deal with the wide spread blood shortages Mexico is facing due to the pandemic:
“We did a campaign from Uber ‘Moving what most matters’. It was very important because at the start of the pandemic we managed to transport more than 500 people in 2 weeks.
In a pandemic that was complicated because people don’t want to go to donate blood in an area that might have Covid, and they definitely don’t want to be there for 6 hours.
Put together Covid and the 6 hour factor and people have a lot of fear and on top of that there’s a weak culture of giving blood already. But the fear is the main barrier.”
Blooders x Bridge
Cesar joined Bridge wanting to dive deeper on an interesting opportunity he spotted for Blooders. He says the pillars the company already has are hugely important but they were missing something – to get close to the blood donation community and their potential new users.
They’re planning on doing that through Blooders café, which they’re using the Bridge incubation program to validate. They say that working alongside their Bridge mentor has given them a lot of confidence for the launch:
“The mentors are first class and the program helps to mitigate risk. If you can lower risk you have a higher chance of success. The Leap is incredible, it’s very complete and goes step by step.”
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