Clafiya, an African healthtech company, announced its $610,000 pre-seed raise today.
The oversubscribed round saw participation from Norrsken Accelerator, Acquired Wisdom Fund (AWF), Hustle Fund, Voltron Capital, Microtraction, Ajim Capital, HoaQ, Bold Angel Fund, Shivdasani Family and other angel investors.
The company will use the capital injection to accelerate growth, invest in product development and hire new tech talents. This funding announcement follows Clafiya’s admission into the 2022 Google Black Founders Fund.
Clafiya is led by Jennie Nwokoye (CEO), a Nigerian who moved back from the US to tackle this problem with her training as a Systems Engineer (M.Sc.) from Georgetown University and experience working in the US public and private sector at companies like Deloitte and AWS.
Affordable access to quality primary healthcare is a challenge in Africa. Over half of the continent’s 1.2 billion people can’t access healthcare. “As part of my childhood in Nigeria, I witnessed firsthand the challenges of healthcare in the country with some of my family members coming in close contact with death due to inefficiencies in the local care system,” says Jennie. “I wanted to do something about it, but I didn’t want to become a medical doctor. So, when I travelled to the US, I studied Biomedical sciences, as an undergraduate. It was until my Master’s at Georgetown that I was able to put a pin on how to leverage systems thinking to tackle the healthcare problem of access, quality and payment on the continent.”
In 2021, Clafiya launched as an on-demand digital platform that connected Nigerians needing medical attention to vetted primary healthcare providers—who could bring the care services to their homes. Yet, access is only one of the problems that the company set out to solve. Payment is also an issue. Eleven million Africans fall into poverty because of high out-of-pocket payments.
Given the healthcare system's challenges, several healthtech startups have risen to solve the sector's problem, but with little differentiation—as many leverage a virtual-only (telemedicine) approach. “When we started, we were focused on improving the convenience of healthcare by connecting people to vetted healthcare practitioners," says Jennie. “However, as we continue to interact with our users and the market, we have fine-tuned our strategy—we are building a digital primary care centre that is centred on the patient, as the beneficiary, while partnering with pharmacies, diagnostic centres, mental health services, hospitals and health specialists for an end-to-end healthcare experience.”
Businesses and the diaspora are one of the biggest contributors to Nigeria’s economy—combined, they account for more than 50% of the nation's GDP. In 2022, SMEs contributed 48% of national GDP, while the diaspora accounted for 4% of the GDP.
Clafiya is tapping into this segment by offering products that allow diaspora members to purchase healthcare plans for their loved ones in Nigeria instead of directly giving their families money for healthcare—which could get diverted to other pressing needs.
Similarly, the company is launching its B2B offering that allows companies to create health savings accounts from which their employees can access primary healthcare.
“With our platform, individuals and businesses can top up their Clafiya wallet and use it to pay for healthcare services. Unlike HMOs, the funds in our wallets do not expire, and they only deplete with use. Plus, we offer cash back rewards on deposits with us.”, adds Jennie.
The company has partnered with numerous reputable organisations like Hygeia, i-Fitness, Khairo Diet Clinic, Blueroomcare, Pharmarun, and Famasi Africa.
The two-year-old startup makes money from the services they provide to customers (individuals and businesses) and shared profit from its operational partners and HMO. With these, the startup has grown its revenue by 15% month-on-month while increasing its patient’s life expectancy by a similar margin.
Speaking on Microtraction’s early investment in Clafiya, Dayo Koleowo, a Partner at Microtraction, said, “Clafiya’s mission to provide seamless access to primary healthcare for Africans and the approach to tackling the existing underperforming alternatives was interesting to us at Microtraction. We wasted no time in being their first institutional investor because we were simply impressed by the team’s experience, their go-to market strategy and the huge market opportunity identified. We are excited about the plans and different solutions they are working on to bring primary healthcare to every home in Africa.”
“We are excited to see Clafiya raise this funding,” says Google’s Startup Fund Manager, Olufemi Omoniyi. “And are inspired by the team's commitment to using technology to address a pressing need in Africa. As part of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund 2022 cohort, Clafiya demonstrated immense potential and dedication in addressing the healthcare challenges faced by individuals and businesses. They connect people with health practitioners - providing convenient and on-demand primary care from their mobile phones. We are proud to support Clafiya on their journey to transform healthcare delivery and improve the well-being of communities across the continent,” Olufemi concluded.
Co-founder and General Partner, Hustle Fund, Elizabeth Yin says, "We are excited to partner with Clafiya in their mission to change healthcare delivery in Africa. Right now, patients see increasing costs and long wait times at hospitals. And there are more than 500 million people in Africa who still can't afford quality healthcare. Jennie (CEO) has a fantastic background as a systems engineer and has redesigned processes previously for major companies, and so I'm excited about her vision and ability to change how systems work in healthcare here to help more people."
Clafiya's goal is to keep providing access to primary healthcare to the more than 500 million people the traditional healthcare system has not been able to serve. "We're currently focused on the billion-dollar healthcare market in Nigeria, where there is still an opportunity to grow. We started from Enugu, expanded to Lagos, Abuja and plan to keep growing within Nigeria and beyond", says Jennie Nwokoye.