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 2023
Growing recognition for African online pharmacies’ disruptive models
Ecosystem watchers are paying more attention to how African online pharmacy start-ups have launched models to serve users in local markets. Innovators such as MyDawa (Kenya) and MyMedicines (Nigeria) are being credited as notable players in the ongoing disruption of the traditional retail pharmacy industry due to their resilient, patient-centric models, end-to-end partnerships and by adopting efficient, low-tech approaches to simplify user experience and drive customer retention.
A rare acquisition in African healthtech ecosystems
As African healthtech ecosystems have matured, mergers and acquisitions have remained rare: Salient Advisory’s funding data shows there were only four healthtech acquisitions across African ecosystems in 2022.
The first acquisition in 2023 has seen Nigerian telemedicine start-up Doctoora Health get acquired by Evercare Hospital, one of the largest, private health facilities in Nigeria. The acquisition will see Doctoora’s services subsumed into EverCare’s growing suite of digital health solutions while Debo Odulana, co-founder of Doctoora Health, will join Evercare as its Chief Innovation Officer. Doctoora Health enabled patients book virtual consultations, lab tests and purchase medicines remotely.
While previous notable acquisitions have seen well-funded health innovators acquire traditional players (like mPharma’s acquisitions of Haltons Pharmacy in Kenya and HealthPlus pharmacy in Nigeria), Evercare’s acquisition of Doctoora is a reminder that traditional incumbents may also look towards acquiring promising digital start-ups to advance their digital health strategies.
Seed stage investment in African innovators continues to gain traction
Clinify, a Nigerian electronic medical records start-up, raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Thin Air Labs, HaloHealth, and angel investors. Founded in 2020, the start-up aims to digitize and centralize medical records across local healthcare systems, and improve patient data visibility. The company has deployed its solution to 140 healthcare providers and health insurance companies, covering 12,000 patients.
Famasi Africa, a Nigerian digital pharmacy start-up, has raised an undisclosed seed round led by Microtraction, with participation from Hustle Fund and several angel investors. Famasi Africa launched in 2021 by testing a personalized medication management solution and has since incorporated remote consultations with specialists.
South African start-up Envisionit Deep AI has raised $1.65 million in a funding round led by New GX Ventures SA. The start-up’s AI-powered solutions aim to improve medical imaging and accurate diagnosis in local markets. With one of its solutions already approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Association, Envisionit Deep AI is pursuing expansion plans and seeking approval from United States’ FDA and the European Medical Agency.
More seed funding could be flowing into the ecosystem: Flat6Labs, a Middle East and North Africa-focused investor, is expanding operations across East and West Africa with a $95 million investment fund. Flat6Labs will invest between $150,000 and $400,000 in promising early-stage start-ups across multiple sectors, including health-tech.
Leading health innovators are evolving their products and clientele.
Ghanaian healthtech start-up mPharma launched a mobile version of Bloom, its digital pharmacy management solution. Bloom Mobile will enable pharmacies manage operations on mobile devices, and include point-of-sale, inventory management and sales history features. The service can be used without internet connectivity, reducing pharmacies’ reliance on internet access which can be spotty, particularly in peri-urban and rural areas.
In Kenya, Maisha Meds is expanding its public sector footprint with an additional partnership with the government of Makueni County to optimize inventory and supply chain management. (This follows a previous partnership with Kisumu County, as we reported last November). Having previously focused on private sector providers, Maisha Meds is increasingly looking to deploy its solutions to minimize waste and stockouts in public health facilities across Kenya, and is in discussions with other county governments across the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical need for locally driven innovations. This Gates Foundation blog spotlights how three Kenyans collaborated to develop pivotal data-driven solutions to provide the government with disease projections during the pandemic, and in the process, founded a homegrown epidemiological modelling centre in Kenya.
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