Friday, February 7, 2020

The Tippie connection is global. After participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at the University of Iowa, Rapula Otukile partnered with Tippie business analytics students to take his company's supply management system digital.

A 2018 Mandela Fellow, Otukile founded Pilane Pharmacy, a pharmaceutical distribution company that serves various hospitals and clinics in Botswana outside the capital city Gaborone. Products were sometimes sitting on shelves beyond the expiration date because the pharmacy tracked its inventory manually on paper. Otukile wanted to move to a digital supply management system, but infrastructure in Botswana couldn’t support most out of the box solutions.

Business analytics students in the information systems capstone class partnered with Otukile in August 2019 to create a customized web-based supply management system. When the application was ready to launch, five Tippie students from the capstone class traveled to Botswana to install and deploy the system, and were on the ground to work out issues with pharmacy staff. As with most new applications, a few bugs popped up. After pulling two all-nighters, the application officially launched on Dec. 2, 2019.

“It was really difficult at times, but I knew I had to come through for Rapula,” said Carli Stratham (BBA19), one of the students who flew to Botswana for the launch. “It wasn’t a simulated business. It is his real business and this application could make a huge difference.”