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. | March 2022
African health-tech innovators continue to raise funding to drive growth…
Rocket Health, an Ugandan digital health start-up, raised $5 million in a Series A round led by Creadev with participation from Grenfell Holdings & LoftyInc Capital Management. Launched in 2012, Rocket Health facilitates 400,000 remote consultations annually in addition to its e-pharmacy and diagnostics booking operations.
Remedial Health, a Nigerian supply chain and procurement solutions start-up, raised $1 million in a pre-seed round led by Global Ventures & Ventures Platform, with participation from Ingressive Capital, Voltron Capital, the Angel Syndicate Fund and other angel investors. Remedial Health is aiming to drive growth partly through a stock financing service which enables pharmacies and clinics access inventory through working capital solutions. The start-up has also been admitted into globally renowned accelerator, Y Combinator.
Kasha Global, an e-commerce player focused on women’s health and personal care products, has commitments from Beyond Capital Ventures for its bridge funding round. Kasha operates in Rwanda and Kenya and has delivered over eight million products to date.
Chefaa, an Egypt-based e-pharmacy start-up, raised an undisclosed venture round from investors, including Newtown Partners, Global Brain and GMS Capital Partners. The female-led start-up is aiming to further expand its operations & network in new markets and develop new solutions, including a medical insurance offering.
…and debt financing could be emerging as a key source of funding for innovators
Goodlife Pharmacy, an East Africa-based pharmacy chain, raised $12 million in debt financing from French Development Finance Institution Proparco. The funding will power Goodlife’s ambitions to grow its network to 250 pharmacies across East Africa by 2025 (it currently has nearly 100 outlets) as well as its evolution from a brick-and-mortar retail chain to an integrated digital healthcare platform.
Susu, a health insurance solutions start-up for users in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal & Cameroon, also raised $2.2 million comprising a $1 million pre-seed equity round from angel investors and $1.2 million in debt and grant financing from BPI France.
These debt financing deals reflect a wider trend across African tech ecosystems as start-ups appear to be increasingly incorporating debt in their fundraising strategy. However, with fintech start-ups accounting for 54% of total debt funding in 2021, it remains to be seen if health-tech start-ups can build viable commercial models that can win the lenders’ confidence.
Health-tech innovators are striking strategic partnerships and deepening their digital expertise
Zipline is kicking off operations in a new African market: the drone delivery start-up has partnered with the government in Kenya’s Kisumu County to build a distribution hub and provide on-demand drone deliveries of medical supplies to facilities across the county. After successfully operating in Rwanda and Ghana through strategic government partnerships, Zipline now appears to be scaling its model across the continent and has recently struck similar distribution partnerships with national & state governments in Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire.
Vula Mobile, a South African health-tech start-up is partnering with Novartis to improve eye care services for rural residents. The start-up’s referral model connects primary health care workers to specialists through its digital platform to ensure faster diagnosis and treatment of patients. The three-year partnership with Novartis will focus on facilitating referrals to specialists to treat eye conditions and will start with pilot programs in Namibia and Botswana.
LifeBank, a medical supplies logistics start-up, launched Nerve, a procurement solution to enable hospitals order blood, oxygen & medical consumables. The solution will replace LifeBank’s previous call centre-based product ordering system, and fully digitizes procurement processes for LifeBank’s growing clientele of 1,300 hospitals across 13 African cities.
Afya Rekod, a Kenyan electronic health records start-up, has partnered with GE Healthcare to enable patients and clinicians access a wider range of health records and information, including radiological images, and optimize for positive health outcomes. The partnership comes on the heels of Afya Rekod’s $2 million seed round to scale its health records services
Emerging initiatives to inspire the next generation of African health-tech innovators
In Feb. 2020, genomics research start-up 54gene launched the African Centre for Translational Genetics, a non-profit initiative to support African genomics scientists. The initiative has now awarded $64,000 in scholarships to four PhD candidates across Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa as part of its vision to scale-up genomics research capacity on the continent.
Futurize, an innovation studio, is collaborating with AstraZeneca’s A.Catalyst Network and Microsoft Africa to launch a healthcare innovation program with universities across Sub-Saharan Africa. The program will see students and alumni from selected universities participate in entrepreneurship and innovation boot camps to develop solutions aimed at improving access to healthcare and improving screening, diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases
Nigeria’s The Guardian newspaper explores how technology-driven solutions are positively impacting maternal mortality in the country by providing new and expecting mothers with access to information, resources and consultations.
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