BY TOM JACKSON
Villgro Africa, an impact investor incubating and supporting early-stage social entrepreneurs in Africa, has disbursed funding to four health-focused startups amounting to a total of US$170,000.
The India-based Villgro Innovations Foundation expanded to Africa in 2017 with a launch in Kenya, but last year rebranded as Villgro Africa and expanded across the continent in a bid to support more e-health startups.
The early-stage business incubator and impact investor offers mentoring, funding and access to networks to startups, and has just awarded funding to four more companies.
Two of the funded startups are Kenyan, namely DawaPay, a digital platform that partners with pharmaceutical manufacturers in promoting last-mile distribution of affordable essential medicines and laboratory consumables, and Damu-Sasa, which provides a cloud-based, end-to-end blood services information management system to support the sourcing of blood, managing inventory and transfusion processes.
They have each secured US$50,000 in funding, with Damu Sasa having also received funding from Villgro at the end of last year. DawaPay’s funding is the only one of the four that is in return for an equity stake – the others are all grants.
“The Damu Sasa team are extremely focused and committed to solving the challenges within the blood services supply chain. We at Villgro Africa are keen to collaborate with them to achieve their vision while looking to unlock more capital as they grow the organisation,” said Rob Beyer, co-founder and executive chair of Villgro Africa.
Ethiopian startup Simbona, a healthcare research and development company that designs and develops healthcare equipment and ICT systems, has also received a US$50,000 grant, while Villgro has allocated US$20,000 to Ugandan company Wekebere, which is developing a maternal healthcare device that focuses on improving access to quality, timely, affordable antenatal care services.
“The seed funding from Villgro helped us to accelerate development and clinical validation of the Wekebere device, and it will help us to build out our commercialisation efforts for the first product,” said Stephen Tashobya, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Wekebere.