A world-class collection of world-changers 

The PopTech Accelerator is unique in its ability to rapidly build a coalition of unparalleled organizations and domain experts. For Project Masiluleke, PopTech has aligned some of the best and brightest from the worlds of healthcare, mobile technology, design, marketing and media. The in-kind value of intellectual property, technology, services and time invested by these partners runs well into the millions of dollars. Current project partners include:


iTeach, led by Krista Dong, MD and Zinhle Thabethe, is a leading HIV/TB education, outreach and service organization headquartered at Edendale Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. iTeach serves as the primary clinical site for Project Masiluleke and the iTeach team develops the program’s content. Dr. Dong is the Programme Director of iTeach and has a clinical appointment at the Harvard Medical School in the Infectious Diseases Section at Massachusetts General Hospital. Ms. Thabethe is the Deputy Director of iTeach and has recently been named as an Explorer of the National Geographic Society.

The Praekelt Foundation, established in 2007, is a non-profit organization based in Johannesburg, South Africa. As an African organization, the Praekelt Foundation’s mission is to build innovative mobile technology solutions that improve the health and wellbeing of people living in poverty. The Foundation provides an incubator for new mobile-based solutions that create access to information and services across Africa. Praekelt possesses substantial experience in mobile phone messaging for HIV care.

frog design is a global innovation firm that helps companies create and bring to market meaningful products, services, and experiences. The company's cross-disciplinary process reveals valuable consumer and market insights and delivers lasting, humanizing solutions across multiple technologies, platforms, and media. frog has extensive experience developing breakthrough mobile applications and services on a global scale for Fortune 500 clients. Committed to driving social change through innovation, frog is contributing service design expertise to Project M to ensure that all aspects of the user experience are carefully crafted for maximum usability, value, and relevance to the end user.

MTN - one of the largest and fastest-growing telecommunications companies in the developing world- is generously donating up to 1 million “Please Call Me” messages per day for two years. MTN South Africa is part of the MTN Group, a multinational telecommunications group operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group claims more than 74 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.

Nokia Siemens Networks is a leading global enabler of communications services. The company provides a complete, well-balanced product portfolio of mobile and fixed network infrastructure solutions and addresses the growing demand for services with 20,000 service professionals worldwide. Nokia Siemens Networks is one of the largest telecommunications infrastructure companies with operations in 150 countries. The company is headquartered in Espoo, Finland.

Ghetto Ruff - A leader in the South African music scene and among the most relevant cultural brands in the country, Ghetto Ruff and its artists have a long history of channeling their celebrity and voices to advance social change. Three of the label’s top young acts – Jozi (Bongani Fassie, Leslie, Ishmael), Gumshev (Bruno and Fistos) and solo artist Malik – have committed to help make Project Masiluleke a success.

National Geographic Society - One of the world’s leading media brands, the National Geographic Society is a generous supporter of the PopTech Accelerator and Project Masiluleke. In addition to providing grant support, the National Geographic Society is documenting the work of the project.

LifeLine collaborates with the South African National Department of Health to administer the country’s National AIDS Helpline – a critical resource for those seeking more information about HIV/AIDS and TB testing and care. The National AIDS Helpline is the pilot site for Project Masiluleke, receiving inbound calls generated by PCMs.

  Children of South African Legacies – Understanding all too well the toll HIV/AIDS is having on South Africa and its prospects for the future, prominent members of the Mandela and Sisulu families have signed on to support Project Masiluleke. Bhambathe Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, and Moyikwa Sisulu, grandson of renowned African National Congress leader Walter Sisulu, are among those who have endorsed Project Masiluleke and pledged to help drive adoption of the program.


World-Class Advisors

Additionally, PopTech has assembled an advisory group of thought leaders and experts on HIV, TB, and mobile delivery of healthcare, including:

  • Neal Lesh, MD (Dimagi & Dtree International) – Dr. Neal Lesh graduated from the University of Washington with a PhD in computer science and began his career working on artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction at the MERL research lab in Cambridge, MA.  He went on to receive a Masters in public health from Harvard University, then began living in, and working to help the people of: Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, Bangladesh and Malawi.  Dr. Lesh now serves as Chief Technical Officer of D-tree International and the Director of Special Projects of Dimagi, Inc. – both of which are working to pioneer new mobile applications that help guide health workers through medical protocols during patient encounters.  He helped found OpenROSA, a consortium of groups working on data gathering applications in order to foster open-source, standards-based tools for mobile data collection, aggregation, analysis, and reporting.  He has also worked with top regional health organizations including Partners in Health, the Millennium village Project, BRAC, and the Medical Research Counsel of South Africa.

  • Patricia Mechael, MD (Earth Institute, Columbia University) – Patricia Mechael has been actively involved in the field of International Health as a project manager and technical advisor for over 12 years, with field experience in over 20 countries and a special focus on Africa. She has a Masters in International Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Hygiene, as well as a PhD in Public Health and Policy from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she specifically examined the role of mobile phones in relation to health in Egypt.   She has worked on mHealth initiatives with a broad range of institutions, including the World Health Organization and the UK Partnership for Global Health.  She is currently engaged as a long-term consultant managing the strategic integration of mobile phones – to achieve the MDGs for health in ten countries in Africa – for the Millennium Villages Project, at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in partnership with Ericsson.

  • Winstone Zulu (World Health Organization, TB/HIV Advisor & HIV Survivor) – Winstone Zulu is a preeminent global HIV/AIDS consultant, counselor, advisor and activist.  He has been tirelessly fighting the disease's spread since he was diagnosed HIV+ in 1990 -- and became the first Zambian to ever publicly acknowledge contracting the virus.  Winstone has earned certifications from and been an advisor to the World Health Organization, participated in the founding of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and lobbied G8 leaders to make the disease a top global priority.  In 1997 he contracted and was successfully treated for TB, but after watching his four brothers die from lack of access to anti-TB drugs, Winstone became a pioneer in fighting for awareness of the linkages between HIV/AIDS and TB.  Nelson Mandela said of Winstone Zulu, “There have been so few TB survivors who have stepped forward to share their stories. We need more advocates like Winstone to tell the world about TB and the effect it has on so many millions of people.”