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. | July 2022
Our latest research: Innovations in Digitizing Distribution of Health Products
Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, our new market intelligence report features 80+ health start-ups that are digitizing the distribution of health products and improving access to essential medicines in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda. Read the full report.
Bold, new partnerships are improving access to healthcare and health-related financing
In Kenya, Penda Health and Grace Health have partnered to improve on-demand access to healthcare services for women. While Grace Health’s app currently enables women access sexual and reproductive health services and information, the partnership ensures users will now have further access to consultations with doctors, through Penda Health’s telemedicine service and network of physical clinics.
In Côte d’Ivoire, telecoms giant Orange has launched Orange Santé, a digital health service, in partnership with Dabadoc. The service will enable users book doctor appointments, access virtual consultations and make payments for health services. Orange Santé will be expanded across Francophone Africa as part of Orange’s plans to develop its footprint in digital health services.
In Kenya, Kasha has joined Jaza Duka, a micro-credit digital lending platform led by Mastercard, Unilever and KCB Bank Kenya to provide financing options to small and medium scale merchants. An estimated 5,000 merchants will now be able to access lending to purchase female health and care products through Kasha’s e-commerce service.
In Nigeria, telemedicine and diagnostics start-up Doktorconnect is enabling “Buy Now Pay Later” health financing for its users, in partnership with Carbon, a local fintech. The service will enable users purchase plans for tests and consultations while paying in instalments. Long-term, adopting the “Buy Now Pay Later” model in health financing could have significant impact on affordability by minimizing the barriers of upfront, big-ticket costs which inhibit access to care for patients.
Innovators continue to secure early-stage funding and access to technical support
Nigerian health start-up Healthtracka raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Ingressive Capital, Hustle Fund, Alliance of Angels and Flying Doctors. Healthtracka ensures easier access to diagnostics for its users by providing home-based testing for a range of conditions.
Bena Care (Kenya), Streamline (Uganda) and Zuri Health (Kenya) received $50,000 in funding for winning the Frontline Health Worker Healthcare Innovation Challenge organized by Villgro Africa in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures. The challenge sought to support early-stage East African companies working to strengthen the capacity of frontline health workers in the region.
Nigerian start-up Emergency Response Africa has completed the spring cohort program of Techstars Toronto accelerator, securing $120,000 in equity funding, technical support and access to Techstars’ growing global network of portfolio companies.
Eight Medical (Nigeria), One Health (Nigeria), Chekkit (Nigeria), Pharmarun (Nigeria) and Afya Bora (Tanzania) were selected for the inaugural cohort of the ScaleUp Accelerator program by Microsoft and Greenhouse Capital. The six-week program will provide start-ups with technical support, access to digital tools and potential investors.
Kenya reinsurance giant Zep-Re has acquired a 30% stake in Medbook, a local digital health solutions provider. Medbook is aiming to leverage Zep-Re’s expertise to scale its insurance-related offerings and strengthen its digital infrastructure.
East African governments and institutions double down on leveraging technology to improve health outcomes
The Ethiopian Ministry of Health has partnered with Mastercard, Gavi, and JSI to develop a solution to digitize and store patients’ health records. The “Wellness Pass” solution will allow patients’ health records to be stored and accessible offline through a Mastercard chip card, ensuring patients and providers can access these records seamlessly.
Kenya’s Ministry of Health is partnering with Amref Health Africa and AstraZeneca to launch mobile vaccination clinics to improve vaccine access in last-mile communities. The custom-built clinics will be fitted with solar-powered fridges, backup power supplies and computers to ensure real-time data capturing and reporting, and will aim to vaccinate up to 1,000 people daily in Kenya’s hard-to-reach communities.
Blood services start-up Damu Sasa has partnered with the University of Nairobi to conduct research on blood services management and technology in Kenya. Funded by the International Development Research Centre of Canada with Villgro Africa as the administering agency, the study is aiming to improve understanding of the blood services ecosystem in Kenya and identify opportunities for improvement using technology.
Innovators are launching new products to drive data-based approaches to healthcare management
Nigerian app-based telemedicine start-up SignalADoc is adding an AI-powered vital signs monitor to its service offering. The contactless service will leverage facial recognition tech to measure users’ health vitals through smartphone cameras. The vital signs monitor can improve the quality of virtual consultations, by providing doctors with insights on patients’ key health indicators.
mPharma has launched Facility Insights, a new service that allows pharmacies track store-related data and generate reports on sales, profits and inventory digitally. The service is available in over 300 pharmacies in Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda with plans for further expansion to all partner pharmacies this quarter.
Last month, a consortium of global & continental partners launched Investing in Innovation—a $7 million program to support African health start-ups that bring quality health products closer to where patients are, at affordable prices. In this piece, Efosa Ojomo, senior research fellow at the Christensen Institute, explains how the program can foster healthcare focused market-creating innovations across Africa—and save lives.
Eligible start-ups can apply for the program here.
Spread the word! Share this with African health-tech innovators, donors, investors and enthusiasts within your network – and tell them to sign up!