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Syked is a virtual private counselling platform for individuals looking for alternative ways of seeking mental health support without putting themselves at risk.
The business was founded by Wandile Khumalo in 2019, after he had realised that not everyone was fortunate enough to have a strong support system or access to healthcare facilities. Wandile saw that there was a need to provide quick access to care, comfortably and affordably without worrying about the stigma that is often associated with mental illness.
“At Syked we are driven by our purpose of destigmatising mental health assistance for the African population by making it accessible to all,” he explains.
Wandile shares that he has suffered from depression during his life, so he knows exactly what his clients are experiencing and the support that they need. Each of the tools that are available to patients are backed by many hours of clinical research and development, which he firmly believes is important.
“The counselling and support is managed entirely through our secure app that walks the journey with patients,” he says. “A range of resources are available that patients can use at different stages of intervention.”
Syked was recently awarded the Development Award at the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2020, where the business received R450 000 in grant funding as well as access to mentorship.
“We have been very fortunate to be able to make it onto various startup incubation and accelerator initiatives like this programme. This has helped support us with business development and access to market. These are all very important support structures that are needed to help entrepreneurs build a strong foundation for their businesses.”
As a technology-based business they are constantly working on system improvements and that is where the majority of their grant funding has been allocated. It will also help them expand their team and further improve their services for patients.
“If had had to give any advice to entrepreneurs, it would be that if you feel strongly about your business solution, give yourself enough time for research and development and find a way to trial your prototype,” he says. “It is also very important to stay true to your vision, but be open to others opinions and guidance.”
Syked has achieved almost 3, 000 paid sessions since inception.
Since being recognised at the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards and participating in the programme, the number of Syked’s employees have doubled. In the future, Wandile has a three year plan to provide services to more of the South African youth, as well as expanding his operations to at least two other African countries.