Healthtech startup Susu has raised €2 million ($2.2 million*) pre-seed to make affordable healthcare accessible to all Africans.
The pre-seed is made up of €1 million ($1 million) in equity financing from angel investors, €800,000 ($878,200) in debt financing, and €200,000 ($219,550) in grants from BPI France — a French public investment bank.
Susu will use the €2 million pre-seed investment to grow its team and add new features to its platform. It also plans to launch in six new countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria and Ghana.
Headquartered in Lyon, Susu is currently operational in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Senegal. The insurtech startup offers bundled health services that provide patients with planned, long-term health support to ensure optimal monitoring of their health conditions, including pregnancy, child care and chronic disease management.
With the fresh funding, Susu is also developing new care bundles for pregnant women and their babies to reduce the risk of mortality.
Africa's healthcare sector is plagued with many problems including underdevelopment and insufficient resources. In 2017, insurance premiums accounted for only 2% of the continent's total GDP, compared to the 3.41% — second only to South and East Asia's 3.77% — reported in 2010. This shows a decline in the volume and value of insurance premiums vis-à-vis economic growth and development.
Susu intends to mitigate these challenges by providing care bundles through an integrated approach to better connect the patients, their families, and healthcare professionals.
Bola Bardet (CEO) launched Susu in 2019, alongside her co-founders Laurent Leconte (CTO) and Sandrine Egron (COO), after she lost her father to complications of a chronic health condition due to poor management.
"I suffered the terrible loss of my dad due to the mismanagement of his medical condition. I knew that the situation could have been prevented if he had access to comprehensive healthcare and that’s why I started Susu to provide access to quality and affordable healthcare to others", Bola said.
"We should not be fatalist about access to quality healthcare in Africa. Like financial inclusion is being improved with mobile payment solutions, technology is going to play a tremendous role over the next decade in providing solutions to tackle the challenges faced by the healthcare systems over the continent".
There is a high demand for our service, so we are eager to expand quickly to other countries. In 2021, we had a 400% growth rate in terms of revenue and multiplied our customer base by 500%. On top of that, we see more family members and friends, especially those from the Diaspora, wanting to contribute financially to the care of a beneficiary, so we have gone ahead to build technology that allows for several family members and friends to co-finance the service.
Explaining how the platform works, Susu told Benjamindada via email that a beneficiary, say a pregnant woman subscribes through her phone — smartphone or feature phone — to the maternity care bundle. She is provided with the option of sending payment links to her relatives (living in the Diaspora or close to her) so they can join her in paying for the service on a recurring or ad-hoc basis.
And once her subscription starts, Susu provides the pregnant woman with a medical care schedule they organised and is operated by their healthcare partners. She also gets access to Susu's digital platform where she can manage her care calendar and appointments and get lifestyle advice.
"I have been following Susu since the beginning of the project. And I see its huge potential, focused on building a solution to provide access to affordable healthcare in Africa through technology", Christopher Neves, a senior executive who has worked with multinational insurance groups and one of Susu's angel investors, said. "Since the start, Bola Bardet and her team have demonstrated their capabilities and ambition in executing such a project".
Susu said it provides its services based on four key pillars:
- Health bundles (a combination of medical and logistical services),
- Collective financing (payment for service through several contributors, whether close relatives or members of the African diaspora),
- Digital platform (connecting the beneficiaries, financial contributors and the healthcare professionals), and
- Quality medical network carefully selected by Susu’s experts.
According to Bola, Susu's approach is unique compared to Fleri Inc., a United States-based insurance tech startup enabling immigrants to pay for the healthcare services of their loved ones back home. Susu provides insurance through care bundles and those who can't afford it can use collective financing — ask their loved ones or family members for financial assistance.
* Exchange rate as of March 4, 2022: €1 = $1.09