Born in Salta, Argentina, Ibrahim grew up in New Jersey and Oklahoma. During his undergraduate and graduate studies in Austin, Texas and Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ibrahim began his lifelong mission to design products to improve the lives of people in low- and middle-income countries around the world.
While still an undergraduate in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin,
Ibrahim had the opportunity, through Engineers Without Borders, to work on the design of water and education systems in Cameroon and Mexico. This work led him further into the field of design for low- and middle-income countries. As part of his undergraduate Honor’s thesis, Ibrahim researched the use of waste sawdust as a fuel source for cook stoves in Ghana. His goal was to understand the best way to turn this waste product into a viable fuel source, optimizing for heating duration and time to cooking temperature, while also reducing harmful emissions.
As a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ibrahim moved further into the field of design for low- and middle-income countries, using ethnography techniques adapted from the field of anthropology to analyze the needs, context, and history of the product end-users. Ibrahim studied how techniques such as immersing oneself in an end-users context, performing interviews, and conducting observations can be leveraged during the design process.
As part of this work, Ibrahim spent one month performing clinical observations at St. Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He realized there was a need to increase women’s accessibility to long-acting contraception in rural Ethiopia. Currently, women in these rural areas must travel to urban health centers or hospitals to receive long-term birth control options, and the time and cost of travel present significant barriers.
Ethiopia has only 2.5 physicians per 100,000 people – limiting the delivery of effective long-term contraception. Ibrahim realized that if subcutaneous contraceptive implants were easier to administer, local community healthcare workers with less medical training could administer them. This insight led him to design and develop the SubQ Assist, a plastic medical device which provides a template for inserting contraception beneath the skin, thereby helping local community healthcare workers accurately and safely administer the implants, removing the burden, danger, and expense of long distance travel.
Ibrahim hopes that this device will expand access to long-acting contraception for women in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries worldwide, and help improve the quality of healthcare services for women.
Ibrahim is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan pursuing the commercialization and development of the SubQ Assist through a grant from Grand Challenges Canada (Saving Lives at Birth) and the VentureWell E-team program.