Fellow Portrait

Caitlin Dolkart



A subscription-based emergency-response infrastructure that centralises ambulance dispatch and connects Kenyans to life-saving services.

03. Good Health and Well-Being

09. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure


Anglophone and Lusophone Africa





When a medical emergency strikes, the first reaction is to call an ambulance. In Kenya, however, that can be problematic. With no centralised emergency number to call, anxious relatives and patients have to trawl through numbers for local ambulance providers, praying to find one who is available and nearby. The cost to nerves, let alone to life, can be high: a 2017 study by the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit found that the average response time in Kenya is an astounding 162 minutes. Since the first hour, dubbed the “golden hour” of care, can make all the difference, the outcome for most can be the difference between life and death.


An end-to-end emergency response system

Flare has set out to change that. Launched in 2017 by American entrepreneur Caitlin Dolkart and her co-founder Maria Rabinovich, the company connects people to emergency response services through a real-time digital map. “It’s the next-generation 911”, states Caitlin, “we want to ensure that no matter who you are or where you are in Kenya, you have access to emergency services.” Dubbed “Uber for ambulances” by the African start-up ecosystem, Flare is part of an end-to-end system that sets it apart it from the competition.

To access its platform, users subscribe to Rescue.co, an annual membership service catering to corporate, individual, family and school subscriptions, with the average yearly fee for an individual costing $15. In return they receive 24/7 connection to a fleet of over 500 ambulances, already the largest in the region, coordinated by Flare. “Most ambulance owners have a fleet of one,” says Caitlin. “It’s our job to pull these emergency responders together on a single platform.” Flare then sends them out on calls via its dedicated dispatch centre following the requisite medical protocols.

Flare is the next-generation 911.


A life-changing service

While corporations have been keen to sign up as a valuable perk for their staff, boosting the company’s growth commensurably in the past year, 30% of subscribers to date are individuals, adding a more personal note to Flare’s success. “We consistently hear from them how life-changing it is to have access to our service,” says Caitlin.

For Caitlin, Flare’s digital analysis can be a step towards improving Kenya’s health services. “Through our ability to solicit real-time data we aim to change the expectation that you cannot have access to swift core health services,” she notes. After several years working with the Clinton Health Initiative across East Africa, Caitlin saw the opportunity to build emergency services to drive healthcare forward. “Working in the emergency environment is both exciting and challenging,” she states. “There’s a constant feeling that everything is urgent and must be done in seconds! Setting up our business in this field has been a race against the clock.”

Working in the emergency environment is both exciting and challenging. There’s a constant feeling that everything is urgent and must be done in seconds! Setting up our business in this context has been a race against the clock.

Flare went nationwide in 2018 and is setting itself a core objective: to consistently meet the eight-minute global gold standard for response times, applied to high-priority cases, such as heart attacks. Having closed a Seed round of funding, Flare has plans to roll out its services in other East African nations, bringing timely first response to increasing numbers of people in need across the region.

To be an entrepreneur you need to believe in yourself and know when to listen to others – and when not to!