Emnet Tiruneh

Emnet Tiruneh (Development Studies 2022) is a medical doctor by training who has found her true passion in addressing public health issues affecting millions of people.

Winner of StartUp Sussex 2023 Emnet Tiruneh in her lab coat

Emnet's story

After obtaining her medical qualifications in Ethiopia, Emnet did some clinical work before realising that her true passion lay in public health. She delved into the world of policy and public health, leading several health projects in government and non-government offices. Her last project before coming to Sussex was a Sexual and Reproductive Health project that would provide free SRHR support for more than 5 million youths in Ethiopia.

What led you to Sussex?

My experience ultimately led me to appreciate the inequalities that exist in society and populations with regards to health access, drawing me to the field of Development Studies. And where better to study development studies than the number one ranking university in the field? I am also immensely grateful to be studying under the fully-funded Chevening Scholarship.

What has it been like studying at a UK university as an international student?

The diversity in terms of experiences I have encountered here has been simply transformational. It has opened my horizons and made me appreciate the beauty and wisdom in diversity. From colleagues to course mates and instructors, every person I have interacted with has taught me something new.

What was it about Sussex that stood out to you?

The main factor for me has been the Institute of Development Studies, which ranks first for Development Studies worldwide. The rich academics at the institute and the world-renowned staff that convene the courses were definitely the initial draw factor. I also wanted to study in Brighton, because who wouldn’t want to study and live somewhere near the sea?

Your team recently became the first ever double winner in the annual StartUp Sussex enterprise competition. How are you planning to use the prize money to take Addis Health forward?

It still feels surreal, and the win has provided my team and I with so much impetus. It has already opened doors for us as several investors have already shown keen interest in the work we do. The networks we have established have also been key in launching our business. The prize money will be mainly utilised to complete our licensing processes and recruit full-time staff. Through this support, we are aiming to pilot our services in selected areas before the end of this year.

You mentioned on the StartUp Sussex Awards Night podcast that you don’t come from a typical business background. What advice would you give to people like you who saw a gap in the industry and had an idea to fill it?

I’ve always believed in following the ‘why’ in life. When I first came up with the idea for Addis Health, many people around me were doubtful because I did not have a business or entrepreneurship background. Throughout my journey thus far, I have had to consistently remind myself my ‘why’, which has helped me focus and also meet my current amazing team members. So, one piece of advice I will give is: stick with what gives you meaning and purpose in life and that will propel you, despite all odds, in the process of attracting like-minded people to your circle.

There exists a tremendous challenge with accessing affordable healthcare. Addis Health aims to fill the gap between the immense need for disease prevention and job creation for medical doctors across Ethiopia."
Dr Emnet Tiruneh

How did your experience as a medical professional feed into Addis Health?

Addis Health stems from the inequality I have witnessed while practicing medicine and also leading several health projects in my country. There exists a tremendous challenge with accessing affordable healthcare, particularly when it comes to promotive and preventive care. Addis Health aims to fill the gap between the immense need for disease prevention and job creation for medical doctors across Ethiopia.

What do we have to look forward in the future for Addis Health?

Great things await Addis Health. We will pilot our services within 2023 and fully launch in the next year. We will have a strong team of full-time diverse professionals in our team, as well as an office base to work from. Once Addis Health fully launches, then we will open it to investment, as guided by our now full-time financial and legal team. Addis Health will transform healthcare in Ethiopia and very soon East Africa by promoting a health-conscious and productive community.

Winner of StartUp Sussex 2023 Emnet Tiruneh holds her prize certificate

What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back and start University again?

I would tell myself that everything WILL work out. That everything I was striving towards would come to fruition in its own time, so not to overthink things.

And finally, what’s your favourite spot on campus?
Hands down, the IDS bar and restaurant (amazing food, even better ambience).

Emnet is among thousands of inspiring alumni on Sussex Connect. Join now to seek mentoring and industry advice and get a head start on your career. 

You might also be interested in: