About Plan A
This month’s venture of the month is Plan A, whose mobile clinics bring health care directly to underserved communities, with an emphasis on improving sexual and reproductive health. Plan A provides family planning, STD and HIV testing and treatment, PrEP, Pap smears, and more free of charge, no insurance required. Founded in 2018, its first clinic opened in the Mississippi Delta this year, with plans to expand to other high need areas of the country in the future.
The counties Plan A serves in Mississippi have some of the highest rates of uninsured and underinsured people in the country and up to 30% of residents live below the poverty level. The rate of unintended pregnancy is 62% – almost 20% higher than nationwide – and the state consistently has the poorest healthcare outcomes in the US, including having among the highest rates of cervical cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV.
Women living in rural communities are less likely to access reproductive healthcare services than those in cities and have limited access to comprehensive contraception options like IUDs – Plan A looks to change that by bringing care directly to towns without providers.
About Plan A’s Founder, Caroline Weinberg, MD, ’12MPH
Caroline Weinberg, MD, ’12MPH is the founder and Program Director of Plan A. Her work in reproductive health began as a health educator in college and since that time she has continued to work to improve access to reproductive health care and education with a particular focus on adolescents and care in low-resource settings. Her prior work has included reproductive health program development and evaluation both in the United States and internationally in Uganda and Guatemala. She is an advocate for access to health care as a fundamental human right and passionate about creating programs that ensure access for people in all communities.
What advice does Caroline have for other entrepreneurs?
“I’d say that the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur is to be very honest with yourself and others about your limitations. Don’t just google things and assume you can muddle through (been there, done that, can report a roughly 60% success rate) – work with other people to plug the gaps in your knowledge and skills. I speak from experience when I say this is not a lesson you want to learn the hard way.
When you have an idea, it’s natural to feel protective of it and to want it to spring into reality as you conceived it – and to think you’re the best person to make that all happen. But before taking that step, think through what other voices and brains you need at the table to actually make it work. Do you need help with logistics like incorporating and running payroll? Someone to manage the budget? Expertise in strategic planning? In the case of a company or organization that aims to serve a specific population (particularly nonprofits or social service companies), who can you talk to to make sure that you’re building a program that is rooted in the community’s actual needs and priorities? Don’t make all of your decisions based on statistics and flowcharts. Be thoughtful about who you’re listening to and why.
The story of a solo entrepreneur shaking things up makes for good television but your work and your sanity will be the better for collaborating with other people to get it off the ground.”