We use tried and tested business methods to end the injustice of fistula.
By mixing leading minds from a breadth of backgrounds, our movement offers the greatest chance to transform systems. Operation Fistula is composed of leading business minds and corporate executives, women’s health thought leaders, and expert surgeons.
Founded by an operations engineer passionate about fighting injustice
After achieving financial success on the operating side of private equity, Seth Cochran reoriented his career to target inequity.
“I wanted to ‘retire early’ and devote all my time, energy and business acumen to fighting injustice. When I read about obstetric fistula, I knew I had found my cause. I had never heard of anything so terrible, correctable, and ignored.”
In early 2008, Cochran left his promising career to devote himself to ending fistula, a health problem in Africa and South Asia, even though he knew nothing about health, Africa or South Asia.
Innovation guided by thought leaders in global women’s health
Cochran launched Operation Fistula at the 2008 Skoll World Forum, where he met Dr. Nafis Sadik. As a lifelong advocate for women and obstetric fistula champion, Dr. Sadik immediately recognized the potential Cochran’s passion and unique background brought to the fight against fistula.
Not only did Dr. Sadik personally mentor Seth in his journey to build Operation Fistula, she also introduced him to many other colleagues and people she had mentored throughout her illustrious career fighting for improved women’s health and gender rights. Each of these people added another dimension to the effort to build and expand Operation Fistula.
Solutions led by African doctors, nurses and social workers
Cochran knew from his prior business career that if you wanted to know how to fix things, you needed to ask the people closest to the problem for their solutions.
He headed to Africa and started moving across the continent on public buses. African hospitality allowed Seth to quickly immerse himself in the environment and build relationships with the African service providers who would lead the effort to end fistula in their respective countries.
By listening closely to their locally informed ideas for change, Cochran could understand the challenges and barriers these people faced on a daily basis. Then he worked with these local changemakers and his global women’s health mentors to craft these ideas into a globally innovative strategy.
Founder & CEO
Cochran has worked as a volunteer since founding the organization in 2008, investing his own income and savings in the organization’s development. He has run a consulting practice that has innovated in global health through startups and turnarounds with engagements including the University of North Carolina, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Concern Worldwide, and miraclefeet.