NOV | What we’re reading on health tech in Africa

Because we track locally-driven innovations in health tech across the African continent, we are prototyping a monthly newsletter to share our most “salient” learnings in more real time. We welcome submissions, suggestions.

 

New partnerships continue to emerge as health tech innovators strive to achieve greater scale

E-commerce platform MYDAWA has partnered with Amref Health Africa’s Af-Rika initiative in Kenya. The Af-Rika website, which offers youth reliable resources and information on SRHR, mental health, NCDs and wellness, will now feature a link to the MYDAWA online shop where users can purchase key health products and arrange for direct delivery throughout the country.

AAR Insurance Kenya, the country’s 2nd largest medical insurer, has signed a deal with mobile health wallet M-TIBA allowing their clients to access and manage their medical benefits using their phones. Over 50,000 have signed up for the service to date, reflecting what has been described as a technology-driven shift in health underwriting in Kenya.

Over in South Africa, Right ePharmacy is working with the department of Health in Mpumalanga to expand their Collect & Go smart locker service to 11 new sites. Patients with chronic conditions are able to collect their monthly medications from lockers, contributing to efforts to avoid overcrowding of healthcare facilities.

Uber and local health group Medicare, which operates more than 50 clinics & pharmacies around South Africa, are teaming up to launch an app-based OTC medicine delivery service.

In Ghana, mPharma has signed an agreement with local manufacturer DAS PLC for a long-term collaboration guaranteeing the availability and supply of high-quality, low-cost medicines for distribution through mPharma’s extensive network of facilities. We can’t wait to see how the partners’ shared vision for building more resiliency into the country’s supply chain plays out!

 

Digital solutions for women’s health faced with a mix of obstacles and wins

Many innovators in the health tech space are tackling key women’s health issues by providing trusted information on sexual, reproductive and maternal health through AI-embedded chatbots and other applications.

However, recent findings indicate that many African women use these apps for advice on sexual relationships rather than health-related information. Ask Without Shame, one such application operating in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, observes this trend among its users. Could offering pleasure-based sex education packaged together with reproductive health information be the key to future progress in this space?

Meanwhile, African startups are gathering support for their work in delivering women’s health products and services. Ilara Health has received a $1.1M grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to leverage its suite of tech-enabled diagnostic tools for improved maternal health outcomes in Kenya.

The Swedish Development finance Institute is investing in Femtech e-commerce platform Kasha to enhance access to women’s self-care products throughout East Africa.

The merger between Kenya’s MumsVillage and BabyBliss Nigeria to form the pan-African Bliss Group has made a splash in the femtech e-commerce space since its announcement in July. In this article, CEO Isis Nyong’o Madison describes her journey as the female founder of a female-focused company, and the fundraising hurdles she has faced in the male-dominated VC space.

 

New findings and recent developments highlight challenges in the funding landscape

The conversation on funding biases impacting local technology startups in Africa has been a hot topic in recent months. In addition to the roles played by gender (see above) and indigeneity, new findings are shedding light on other types of challenges that local innovators may face.

Data shared in Techpoint Africa‘s West African Startup Decade Report indicate that 60% of founders who received >$1M investment over the last 10 years had previously owned other ventures – suggesting new founders may struggle to secure funding in comparison.

The report also indicates that 98.2% of the founders of >1M$-financed ventures with postgraduate graduate degrees obtained their degrees abroad, with Harvard and MIT featuring at the top of the list. Could this signal an investor bias toward founders with educational ties to the Global North?

These questions seem to be made all the more relevant in the shifting context that characterizes the investment financing space in Africa today. The #EndSARS movement in Nigeria has revealed that SARS-related violent incidents disproportionately affect the budding tech sector, with 8% having occurred within the health tech subsector. With reports of both innovatorsand investors having been personally targeted, this could represent an ongoing threat to growth in one of the continent’s key tech hubs. We are curious about the ways in which this could impact investments in African health tech in coming months.

 

Our team tracking the landscape of health tech in Africa is growing – we are thrilled to welcome Remi Adeseun as Director. Get in touch!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

  • Kariane St-DenisSalient Advisory

ABOUT SALIENT

New models to deliver health information, products, services and financing are desperately needed globally, especially for equity-seeking populations. As a healthcare consulting firm, we co-develop actionable insights and partnerships, supporting global changemakers to advance outcomes and equity.

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