In a significant stride towards transforming healthcare supply chains across the African continent, Investing In Innovation Africa (i3) has announced its second cohort of 29 startups. i3, a pan-African initiative, is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and sponsored by Cencora (formerly AmerisourceBergen), Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD), Microsoft, and Chemonics.
"We are excited to have a second cohort of 29 innovative changemakers in African healthcare enter the program. Investing in these companies is a means of delivering lifesaving solutions and empowering communities through the access of critical medicines across the continent.” Yusuf Rasool, Director, Global Market Access, Sustainable Access Solutions at MSD, said in a statement seen by bendada.com
The initiative is dedicated to nurturing early- and growth-stage companies in the healthcare sector. It provides selected startups with a multitude of opportunities, including introductions to industry leaders, donor agencies, and governments, a $50,000 grant, and tailored investment readiness support from renowned accelerators such as Villgro Africa, IMPACT Lab, Startupbootcamp Afritech, and CcHUB.
These 29 startups hail from 21 different African countries, all sharing a common mission to innovate and digitize healthcare. The solutions these startups provide range from online pharmacies and telemedicine platforms to inventory management services for pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals, along with supply chain data analytics, product protection, and visibility enhancements. Also in this cohort, i3 focused on diversity with 38% of the selected companies being female led and 17% operating in Francophone Africa, which normally gets overlooked by venture firms.
"The range of startups selected for the second cohort reflects the breadth of talent and creativity in the African entrepreneurial landscape, and we look forward to witnessing the transformative impact of their solutions in the years to come.” Yusuf Rasool, Director, Global Market Access, Sustainable Access Solutions at MSD, said about the startups in the cohort.
Kieran Daly, Director of Global Health Agencies and Funds at the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation also noted that "As countries and global health institutions work to expand access to priority products, we face an urgent need to leverage solutions across the public and private sectors to improve health outcomes and strengthen local health systems. Programs like i3 help us understand, support and engage with technology-driven solutions emerging across Africa, hand-in-hand with our partners.”
The startups will participate in the annual Access to Markets event, scheduled this year for November 14-15 in Nairobi. This gathering serves as a platform for dynamic partnership dialogues between startups, industry stakeholders, governments, donors, and multilateral agencies.
The aim is to foster connections that drive commercialization and scale through mutually beneficial contracts, pilot projects, and investments. Last year's first cohort of 31 companies supported by i3 yielded 24 contracts, pilots, and strategic partnerships to date, underlining the remarkable impact of this initiative.
Meet the startups
Here are the 29 healthcare startups that are in this cohort:
Afia Group Limited
Afia Pharmacy is a pioneering pharmaceutical e-commerce platform headquartered in Kigali, Africa. This online pharmacy is democratising healthcare accessibility by offering authenticated, affordable prescription and over-the-counter medications. Through the Afia app, patients benefit from a remarkable 20% discount on medicines, conveniently delivered to their doorstep with just a few clicks.
Aimcare is a health product sourcing company focused on bridging the healthcare gap in West Africa. They supply innovative, user-friendly, and cost-effective healthcare products to pharmacies, primary health centres, and hospitals,helping fortify the frontline and primary healthcare system in Nigeria in particular through their network of pharmacies, clinics, and patent medicine stores.
Bena Healthcare is a pioneering Kenyan social enterprise startup dedicated to providing accessible clinical and supportive care to individuals facing life-limiting illnesses within the comfort of their homes. Through mobile app they help connect patients with skilled nurses and physiotherapists in their vicinity.
BioCertica, is a biotechnology company. It pioneered Africa's inaugural digital biobank by melding cutting-edge genetic testing and encryption tech. Through a variety of DNA tests, it transforms genetic data into actionable insights, enhancing well-being and fulfilment.
Located in N'djamena, Chari Pharma is a medical equipment and pharmaceutical business.
Checkups Medical is a healthcare service provider specialising in chronic disease management, ensuring top-notch care for conditions like hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, asthma, and seizures. They also offer comprehensive annual checkups including vital assessments and tests for various health parameters and pre-employment and pre-insurance medical clearances.
Operating out of Egypt, Chefaa, is an innovative platform, leveraging GPS technology to enhance the lives of chronically ill patients. Powered by AI and designed with a patient-centric approach, Chefaa offers seamless prescription ordering, scheduling, and drug refills.
Dawa Mkononi is a healthcare startup providing pharmaceutical procurement services in East & Central Africa. This e-commerce B2B platform empowers health facilities with a swift and secure way to source pharmaceutical products.
On the Dawa Mkononi app, hospitals, pharmacies amd other healthcare facilities register and pass through stringent security checks for access to a treasure trove of over 2,000 pharmaceutical products.
Drugstore Nigeria is Nigeria's premier online pharmacy, facilitating convenient access to medicines and healthcare products. By connecting buyers with registered pharmacies across the nation, they help provide access to quality drugs at affordable prices.
Famasi is a leasing digital health platform with a focus on the pharmacy industry. They offer a comprehensive inventory and point-of-sale software solution for pharmacies, seamlessly connecting them with businesses and individuals in emerging markets.
Field Intelligence, e-health startup, is revolutionising pharmaceutical supply chains in Africa. Founded in 2015, it empowers independent and franchise pharmacies in Nigeria and Kenya with data-led technology, enabling efficient inventory management and access to essential medicines.
GICMED is a telemedicine startup which uses and portable digital microscopy to remotely screen and diagnose breast and cervical cancers. They provide screening services in underserved and remote communities. Their solutions help ensure early detection of breast cancer and reduce healthcare disparities for rural women.
Grinta is a pharmaceutical supply chain platform operating in Egypt. Leveraging cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies, it fosters collaboration among key stakeholders, including manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and independent pharmacies. Their end-to-end solution offers seamless access to diverse pharmaceutical and medical products, coupled with inventory financing and automation.
Healthtracka is a cutting-edge digital health platform that offers convenient home-based lab testing solutions. They provide an array of testing options and clinical services at your doorstep, coupled with valuable health insights derived from diagnostic data, to facilitate informed healthcare decision-making.
Kapsule, established in 2018 and headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, operates as a technology and software solutions firm specialising in data-as-a-service. It plays a pivotal role in assisting healthcare providers, insurers, and pharmaceutical firms in enhancing their decision-making processes. Kapsule also offers valuable healthcare market intelligence services tailored to the African region, catering primarily to clients within the healthcare sector.
Medical Diagnostech Ltd., founded in 2010, is a leading South African developer and manufacturer of cutting-edge lateral flow rapid diagnostic test kits. Their proprietary methodology ensures exceptional sensitivity and early detection, resulting in high-quality products built to withstand extreme storage conditions for up to 24 months. Operating under ISO 13485 accreditation, they offer a diverse range of tests, from alcohol consumption to COVID-19.
Medpharma is a Ghanaian social enterprise company revolutionizing healthcare through mobile and web applications. With a focus on non-communicable they help to connect patients with a network of hospitals, pharmacies, and laboratories while offering a wide range of medicines and e-consultation services. Medpharma also empowers clients with easy access to their medical records.
Octosoft Technologies Limited
Founded in 2020, Octosoft Technologies is a health-tech startup using AI and Machine learning to power a fully integrated healthcare platform. Their software solutions, including Octohealth (health insurance), Octocare (healthcare delivery) and Octopay (Consumer healthcare payments), make healthcare accessible and affordable while enhancing the capabilities of health workers.
Often described as Uber for pharmacies, Pharmarun offers users quick and convenient access to medication through a seamless process of locating, funding, and delivering their prescribed medications on demand.
Pharmaserv Health Project Nigeria Limited
PharmaServ is a platform that connects pharmaceutical brands (medical sales reps) to their customer Pharmacies, Hospitals, and Informal Chemist, by enabling them to share their price-list, receive LPOs, manage delivery schedules, back-orders, give discounts, receive payments and, increase sales.
Founded in 2022, Reductiona is a Francophone healthcare startup helping reduce the price of healthcare products through digital coupons.
SASA Health Limited
Operating out of Nairobi, Kenya, SASA Health is a social enterprise and telemedicine, offering comprehensive solutions for medical care. Through the SASAdoctor App, patients can access virtual and physical consultations, receiving medical assessments, treatment plans, prescriptions, and lab test requests.
Tech Care For All Eastern Africa
Tech Care for All, established in 2017, is a digital health company deeply committed to social impact within the healthcare sector. They empower healthcare professionals with innovative digital solutions to enhance the quality and efficiency of care. Through their East Africa hub, based in Nairobi, Kenya, and in collaboration with partners like Savannah Informatics.
Technovera - Pelebox Smart Lockers
Technovera is a South African social impact startup developing innovative technological solutions to enhance the accessibility of chronic medication in Africa's last mile. One of such innovations is the Pelebox, a smart locker system designed to empower patients by reducing their medication collection time to under 2 minutes.
Tibu Health, a Kenyan startup healthtech founded in 2018. They provide an omnichannel platform that seamlessly delivers healthcare services across three strategic access points: home, work and the internet.
UltraTeb, is a FinTech B2B e-commerce platform in Egypt, reshaping the Egyptian medical supply chain market. It facilitates direct connections between vendors (manufacturers & importers) and business customers, primarily hospitals.
Waspito is a Cameroonian startup dedicated to connecting Africa's healthcare ecosystem, with a primary focus on increasing the adoption of telehealth services. The platform aims to improve the accessibility of high-quality healthcare services and reliable preventive care information throughout the continent. In addition to facilitating teleconsultations, mobile laboratory, and pharmacy services.
WellaHealth, founded by Dr. Ikpeme Neto in 2017, is a healthcare technology company based in Africa. They offer affordable and accessible healthcare coverage, initially focusing on malaria and later expanding to cover various common illnesses, chronic diseases, and even offer telemedicine services.
Welo Health operates a cutting-edge health-tech platform dedicated to revolutionising healthcare delivery for South Africans in partnership with corporate clients and health insurers. The company provides an integrated application that empowers employers to access a suite of services comprising remote counselling, financial wellness services, and health assessments, on-demand access to verified nurses, online dashboards for real-time monitoring of employee health, and virtual consultations.