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. | April 2022
African pharmacy chains with digital retail strategies are bagging investment
CFAO Healthcare, an Africa-focused wholesale pharmaceutical distribution company, acquired a 30% stake in Goodlife, the East African pharmacy chain. The stake was purchased from Leapfrog Investments, a private equity firm, which first backed Goodlife in 2017. The investment in Goodlife comes amid its transition from a pure brick-and-mortar business with 100 outlets across Kenya and Uganda to an integrated digital health hub with pharmacy, diagnostics and telemedicine services provided through online channels.
In Nigeria, Verod Capital has also acquired a “significant minority equity stake” in Medplus, the largest local pharmacy chain. Verod Capital cited Medplus’ plans for future growth through expansion of its 79 store outlets and particularly, through its recently launched online pharmacy operations as key attractions.
Innovators are receiving funding and technical support to accelerate growth and impact
Yemaachi Biotech, an Accra-based cancer research company has raised a $3 million seed round led by V8 Capital with participation from investors including LifeLine Family Heritage Fund, Y Combinator, Tencent, LoftyInc Capital, VestedWorld and V Square Capital. Yemaachi is aiming to bridge gaps in cancer care by improving oncology research and diagnostics in African markets.
O7 Therapy, an Egyptian mental health-focused start-up, raised a $2.1 million seed round led by Hikma Ventures with participation from C-Ventures, Lotus Ventures and angel investors. O7 Therapy provides users with access to a growing network of psychiatrists and psychotherapists to provide support and ensure mental wellness.
Waspito, a Cameroonian telemedicine start-up, raised a $2.7 million seed round from Launch Africa Ventures, Newtown Partners, BLOC Smart Africa, Orange Ventures, Saviu Ventures, Plug and Play, and BringCom. Waspito enables remote consultations and diagnostics services for patients and has served over 15,000 patients in Cameroon since 2020. The startup will leverage its new funding to scale nationally and expand to Côte d’Ivoire.
Innovators are also securing placements in accelerator programs facilitated by global tech giants. MDaas Global (Nigeria), LaRuche Health (Côte d’Ivoire.) and Clafiya (Nigeria) are among the 15 African startups selected for the seventh cohort of the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa where they will receive access to mentorship and expert advice over the course of the three-month programme.
Similarly, Snark Health (Kenya) Tumaini La Maisha (Tanzania) and Wala Digital Health (Ghana) have been selected among twelve startups for the first cohort of Microsoft’s FAST Accelerator for African startups.
Innovative health solutions are expanding locally and regionally…
Zipline is expanding the reach of its medical drone delivery services across Ghana by launching two more distribution centers. It’s the latest milestone of its successful operations in Ghana which continue to validate the efficacy of its business model within African contexts.
LifeBank, a medical supplies logistics start-up, has expanded operations to Ethiopia where it has also launched “ColdBank,” a cold chain logistics solution for temperature-sensitive medical products.
Right ePharmacy is expanding Collect & Go – a smart, contactless medicine collection solution first deployed in South Africa in 2020 – to Eswatini, Lesotho and Botswana. During tests in three South African provinces, 336,000 chronic medications were picked up from 64 locker sites by patients. The Collect & Go initiative is run in partnership with South Africa’s National Department of Health and Anova Health Institute, and is supported by USAID and The Global Fund.
…Fintech startups are also venturing into health-tech
In South Africa, TymeBank, a digital bank, has launched TymeHealth, a health-tech service to provide medical insurance to users. In Nigeria, BlackCopper, a fintech startup, is debuting BC Health, a health financing service to enable users pay for big-ticket medical costs in instalments.
Global stakeholders are leveraging health innovations to advance public health goals
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided a $5 million grant to Butterfly Network, a US digital health startup which offers handheld ultrasound solutions. The grant will be deployed to provide 1,000 healthcare workers across the continent with handheld, whole-body point-of-care probes to improve maternal and fetal health.
Gricd, a cold chain technology startup has partnered with Haultrac, a Nigerian logistics company, to enable last-mile delivery of temperature-sensitive products across Nigeria on behalf of USAID. The scope of the partnership includes the delivery of medicines, rapid diagnostic test kits, laboratory reagents and consumables. It’s a vital example of how global donors and development partners can leverage capabilities of African health-tech innovators to scale their growth and impact.
Last month, Salient Advisory published an analytical breakdown of the fast-changing landscape of digital health innovation across Africa, based on our ever-growing database of 1,200+ African health-tech innovators.
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