Because we track locally-driven innovations in health-tech across the African continent, we curate a monthly newsletter to share our most “salient” learnings in more real time. We welcome submissions and suggestions.
Government partnerships are driving health-tech innovation in Kenya
More than half a million mothers now use Jacaranda Health’s PROMPTS – an SMS service and AI-based chatbot that provides mothers with maternal health information. Since launching the service in 2017, the Kenyan maternal health start-up has relied on government partnerships for scale, to great effect: the cost of the PROMPTS service is now being shared by 15 county governments that Jacaranda Health has officially partnered with.
Kisumu County, in Kenya’s southwest, also continues to set an example for how health-tech innovations can be leveraged by public sector actors. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the county government adopted the COVID-DX app, developed by PharmAccess, to track infections and manage pandemic-related data. The app is in use across all the county’s health centres after a successful pilot. (As we reported in March, Kisumu County is also piloting a health insurance scheme to fund coverage for its poorest households.)
Investors are taking bold action to back early-stage African health-tech innovators…
BYON8, a Kenya-based telemedicine start-up, raised $1.5 million in seed funding from People Ventures, Jellyfish Invest and T&W Holding. BYON8 provides users with access to a symptom checker and remote consultations with doctors. The start-up is also developing an AI-based medical diagnostic software to analyse patients’ symptoms and provide diagnosis propositions.
VitruvianMD, a one year-old South African diagnostics start-up raised $660,000 in a funding round led by Verge Healthtech Fund. The startup is aiming to test and scale its AI-powered technology which provides affordable, high-accuracy diagnostic tools to medical laboratories.
Viebeg Technologies, a Rwandan-based procurement and supply chain solutions start-up raised pre-seed funding from Beyond Capital Ventures, Eckenstein Geigy Stiftung and Beyond Capital Fund. Viebeg has worked with over 500 healthcare providers, and expanded to Burundi and DR Congo since launching in 2018.
Chekkit Technologies, a Nigerian anti-counterfeiting start-up also raised $500,000 in pre-seed funding from Launch Africa, Japan Strategic Capital, Blockchain Founders Fund and angel investors. The round also included a grant from Netherlands-based Orange Corners program.
…there’s more early-stage funding for female founders, too.
FirstCheck Africa, a recently launched VC firm focused on providing pre-seed investment to female-led African start-ups, has announced its first four portfolio companies, which includes two health-tech start-ups: Healthtracka (Nigeria) & Zoie Health (South Africa).
By focusing exclusively on early-stage women founders, FirstCheck Africa is playing a pivotal role in ensuring a pipeline of female-led start-ups across African tech ecosystems. As we highlighted in our 2021 report on health product distribution in Sub Saharan Africa, there are pronounced gender gaps in funding and leadership positions for women within the health-tech sub-sector.
Nigerian tech innovators are rallying in the face of uncertain regulation
Reported regulatory amendment proposals could result in a new regime of license fees and taxes for Nigerian start-ups. The amendments, which reportedly include jail term penalties, highlight the regulatory uncertainty faced by innovators operating in Africa’s largest country.
But there’s cause for hope: Nigerian tech ecosystem leaders are collaborating with the country’s presidency to co-create a “Startup Bill” to drive innovation and ecosystem growth. The final draft of the bill is slated to be submitted to the presidency next month.
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