The Coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19) which began in China in December 2019, has now spread to over 190 countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya has also recorded a growing number of cases and, like many African countries, is rushing to stem the tide through a public health response including social distancing, travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine for all returning citizens and residents.
As Villgro Kenya we are doing our part to keep safe and in response to the COVID -19 pandemic here are the few measures we are taking
Working from home – Our staff will be working from home for the foreseeable future until then our office remains closed. If you would like to reach us you can do so via email.
Meetings – We will do our best to ensure our meetings with the various stakeholder are not disrupted. In line with the social distancing directive meetings will be held via teleconferencing. We have limited non-essential travels and trips. In the even that video calls are not applicable, meetings will be held in well venilated rooms and spaces.
Application for Incubation – We welcome applications from startups looking for incubation support, our portal is open for applications which will be vetted accordingly.
Villgro Kenya portfolio company Ilara Health won 1st runners up of the Sankalp Africa Awards 2020.
Led by Emilian Popa, Ilara Health provides affordable, tech-powered medical diagnostics & essential tests to patients & providers across peri-urban Sub Saharan Africa who are currently unable to access these basic life-saving tools.
The company sources for quality affordable diagnostics and leases them as a bundle to peri-urban and rural clinics. This serves as a source of revenue for them. For the leasing model, the clinics can choose to go for the subscription or pay-per-test option.
“With just a $500 (51,830 KES) deposit, doctors can more than double their daily revenue with our diagnostics bundle as against spending $5,000 (518,300 KES) on a traditional lab device or $25,000+ (2,591,500 KES) for a standard ultrasound device,” says Emilian in a previous interview
Their innovative service model helps bridge the gap between affordable diagnostics and low resource clinics. Apart from providing access to medical equipment, they train on how to use these devices, which comes with insurance cover, at no additional cost.
Beyond helping clinics in the country digitize their records, the startup is also working on the possibility of allowing them to exchange medical records, with the approval of patients, via SMS.
This year Agrocenta from Ghana clinched 1st place and Riby from Nigeria secured the 2nd runners up. The Sankalp Africa Awards supports emerging high-impact African SMEs through a rigorous program that sources scalable businesses across six impact sectors and showcases them to leading investors.
Villgro Kenya aims to impact not only innovative health start-ups but also grow the ecosystem in terms of growth in investments. In the second part of an interview with Paul Belknap, we gain insights on the need for more homegrown angel investments to catapult innovations within the ecosystem.
90% of capital injected into startups in East Africa comes from the West. While we have successful entrepreneurs within our borders they are wary to invest in start-ups and instead choose to invest in other sectors like real estate. This is majorly due to the lack of strong regulatory measures, unpredictable timelines and their traditional understanding of investment which makes investing in the innovations seem like throwing money into a hole.
Undoubtedly Kenya has been named as a frontier for innovations in Africa however, we still need to do more to show homegrown investors the value the world sees in innovation and convince them to put more money in the ecosystem to move the innovations to the next stage.
Q: Villgro Kenya has contributed to the health innovation ecosystem largely through its investments into early-stage companies and incubation programs. However, there is a gap in funding startups to scale, what can be done to mitigate this?
P: We can’t solve this problem by ourselves but one of the things that we saw in India was that there were so many more complementary sources of funding available for early-stage entrepreneurs. Government grants, angel investors and other grant funding/more investors with an early stage appetite, we need more of that.
One of the things Villgro Kenya has identified that we need to be able to fund startups to a greater extent in their journey than we needed to in India because there is a lack of complementary funding. On the order of $150k would help those companies move to the plate where they would start to match up with some of the investors that are more active in the ecosystem, some would come in the form of co-investment with early-stage investors as well.
Increasing our ability to fund companies and invest in companies is important but we can’t do it all by ourselves. If you look at things that Kenya & Uganda needs to work on, the government can play a role in terms of doing investments/grants into early-stage companies.
I don’t know that any government is great at investing in early-stage companies. The more successful ones have done a funds approach where they are allocated a set of resources and they pick management to do those investments for them.
There is a real need for more angel investment into startups in the ecosystem. Angel investment or the same individuals can consider investing in funds interested in tackling the pre-seed stage of funding under $150k- 500k.
I’ve talked to a few people who are frustrated with investors seeing real estate as the safe bet. Getting people excited into investing in entrepreneurship particularly the health sector seems to be lagging which is contributed by the fact that there have been very few successes in the health sector making people more cautious in investing into it.
Villgro Kenya hit the ground running this year with site visits to portfolio companies across East Africa. These visits help entrepreneurs in their business growth and development and provides a real time assessment of their progress while also giving us an opportunity to identify areas where Villgro Kenya can add strategic value.
KMET/CMHI broaden their reach across the Counties
The Center for Maternal Health Innovations (CMHI) continues to build a strong presence in the counties, especially in maternal emergencies such as Postpartum Hemorrhage through their Every Second Matters for Mothers and Babies – Uterine Balloon TamponadeTM (ESM-UBT).
Rob Beyer Villgro Kenya Executive Chair is actively supporting the Kisumu-based team as they position CMHI for accelerated growth and impact. CMHI continues to make gains in the country as market leaders in maternal health interventions, leveraging the success of ESM-UBT. The partnership between KMET/CMHI, Villgro Kenya, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School aims to develop a quality holistic Postpartum Hemorrhage Emergency Care Kit which will streamline emergency maternal care in delivery facilities across Kenya.
MamaOpe develop strategy their stage of product development and intellectual property
Dr. Robert Karanja Villgro Kenya CEO, led MamaOpe in a session on introspection in order to chart a strategic way forward for the year including the development of their annual operations plan for 2020, while reviewing fundraising strategies, intellectual property vis a vis their progress in product development.
clinicPesa Set to Launch Pilot
It’s all systems go for clinicPesa’s pilot. The innovative healthcare financing platform for the uninsured in Uganda has successfully signed a contract with MTN Uganda.
clinicPesa is now fully integrated with MTN and available within the MTN mobile money menu, the clinicPesa website and clinicPesa Android application.
Portfolio Manager Gibson Muriuki is often in Uganda working with the team on business model validation and their fundraising strategy. The team has expanded with 25 new hires, who will help fast track the healthcare onboarding process.
clinicPesa CEO appreciates Villgro Kenya – “Through Villgro Kenya’s support, we designed a B2C pilot product with the aim of testing the employer’s willingness to guarantee employees for medical credit and willingness to have savings as a benefit by employees.”