‘When it comes to contraception – conversation matters’ Shujaaz Inc partners with interactive-chat experts Nivi
- Sex & Health
- 22 Feb 2022
‘When it comes to contraception – conversations really matter’ says Bridget Deacon, Managing Director at Shujaaz Inc. ‘We know that it’s the conversations we have with our friends and the people we trust that make the biggest difference.’
‘Those conversations are what make us feel comfortable and confident, and able to take control. That’s why this partnership is so exciting; for the first time, Shujaaz fans can have tailored, trusted conversations 1:1 – and find the right sexual reproductive health services for them.’
In October 2021, Shujaaz Inc and digital health experts Nivi launched a pilot project to connect millions of Shujaaz multimedia fans to the sex and reproductive health information, support and services they need – via the innovative chat bot ‘askNivi’.
For more than a decade, Shujaaz fans have been reading stories about young ‘shujaaz’ (heroes) like them, navigating their relationships, their sex lives and their contraceptive choices. In the last five years, 4 million Shujaaz fans have come online to talk, to get advice from their peers and to share their experiences in a judgement-free zone.
Our research shows that those taboo-busting stories and vital peer-to-peer conversations have helped break down restrictive social norms around contraceptive use. As result, Shujaaz digital fans feel able to take control; external research shows us that Shujaaz fans are 43% more likely to use condoms and 2.4x more likely to choose to delay childbirth than non-fans.
But even Shujaaz fans still face some big barriers, in what’s often called the ‘last-mile’. Those ‘last-mile’ challenges are the obstacles they face after a young person has decided it’s time to take control of their reproductive health, to actually accessing and using the contraceptive method that’s right for them.
Fundamentally, making the right contraceptive choice is really personal. For some people, a long-acting contraception like the implant might be perfect. Some of us prefer the idea of an injectable contraceptive – that feels less permanent.’
Our research shows that, while 85% of sexually active young people have used contraception at some point in their lives, only 72% do so regularly – and less than 40% of 15–24-year-olds are fully confident they can access the contraception of their choice. In focus group conversations, young people identify a range of other obstacles: from unanswered questions to the myths that linger in their minds; to their nervousness about going to a physical clinic, or the fear of being seen picking up condoms in public.
‘Fundamentally’ Bridget Deacon adds, ‘making the right contraceptive choice is really personal. For some people, a long-acting contraception like the implant might be perfect, others prefer the idea of an injectable contraceptive, that feels less permanent. But as a media brand, we can’t provide that 1:1 advice, and guidance at scale.’
That’s exactly the challenge that the team at Nivi was set up to solve. Nivi is on a mission to connect individual people to the trusted information and support they need to make the right decisions about their health, through mobile technology.
Under this pilot partnership, Shujaaz fans are being directed to Nivi’s flagship AI-powered chat-bot ‘askNivi’, where they can access tailored information and support. Delivered in a familiar Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp chat format, Shujaaz fans can start an ‘askNivi’ chat and, after answering tailored questions about their needs and preferences, be provided with personalised referrals to the right service for them. That might be to a traditional in-person clinic, a pharmacy nearby, or to an e-commerce provider.
By connecting Shujaaz fans to askNivi, we can accompany them on the next part of their journey and provide them with a tailored, trusted 1:1 service.’
‘For us, it’s just a natural fit’ say explains co-founder and Chief Business Officer Ben Bellows, ‘young people come together on Shujaaz platforms to have safe, judgement-free conversations about their lives and to find support from their peers. By connecting Shujaaz fans to askNivi, we can accompany them on the next part of their journey, and provide them with a tailored, trusted 1:1 service.’
Throughout this initial pilot Shujaaz Inc and Nivi are gathering unique insights into the personal journeys that young people take, and building up a more detailed, nuanced understanding of the ‘last-mile’ obstacles that still stand in their way.
‘We’re excited about what we’re learning together on this new pilot’ says Ben. ‘We’re already looking ahead to what will be possible, as we work to diversify and deepen the options and reproductive health services available for young people. Partnerships for us are key. Particularly as new e-commerce and digital-consultation services keep coming online. Neither of us have cracked it alone yet – but we can make big progress together!’
‘Yes – Ben’s right, this is only the beginning’ Bridget added, ‘but it’s a vital step forwards in our mission to break down every last barrier that prevents young people from building the future they want.’