In a move that is geared towards fostering growth in the East African startup ecosystem, two innovative Ugandan enterprises appear all set to benefit from what could be thought of as some form of capital injection from investment firm, Villgro Kenya. Both startups, MamaOpe and clinicPesa, which are centered around the e-health niche, are well on their way to being added to Villgro Kenya’s portfolio, having been the subjects of capital infusion in the form of funding and incubation support from the investment magnate. The investment is expected to support the growth of these startups and enhance the availability and accessibility of healthcare services in economically disadvantaged areas.
This investment exercise is reportedly coming as one of the initiatives that was put together in February last year by the India-based Villgro Innovations Foundation in the aftermath of the launch of its incubation funding program designed for businesses in the healthcare and life sciences sphere in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Villgro’s operation blueprint in India is centered around early-stage for-profit social enterprises whose services are mostly channeled toward impacting the lives of the economically-disadvantaged. The organization’s focus is on incubating companies in sectors that encompass such spheres as education, health, energy, and agriculture. Villgro Kenya is regarded as one of the adaptations of Villgro’s broader vision. The incubator is centered on healthcare and it is believed to offer services such as mentoring, monitoring, funding, and access to networks.
Having had the Villgro Kenya investment Committee sanction the funding move, Villgro is poised to tender financial investments that are believed to be USD 25 K and USD 40 K for MamaOpe and clinicPesa respectively, as grant funding.
MamaOpe is a biomedical initiative which functions primarily as a screening and continuous monitoring medium for handling cases of pneumonia, which is somewhat prevalent in some sections of Uganda. The biomedical smart jacket is said to aid non-physician clinicians in correctly diagnosing the illness by gauging its primary symptoms.
As pointed out by Dr Robert Karanja, Villgro Kenya’s chief executive officer (CEO), whose words may be said to embody the company’s vision , “pneumonia is the number one killer of children under the age of five globally. Over half a million deaths can be easily forestalled each year through early diagnosis and treatment. At Villgro Kenya, we remain committed to investing in innovations that are developing life-saving medical technologies designed to strengthen Africa’s health systems.”
clinicPesa, on the other hand, is designed as a digital micro-savings and loans platform that is said to make available to its users, a convenient and affordable means to accessing healthcare services. Users of the platform will be enabled and empowered in the area of catering for medical expenses as they can access their savings or get loans from the platform for use at a number of registered health services providers. This is expected to help individuals cut down on medical costs in the form of out-of-pocket spending for medical bills and drug purchases.
As noted by Paul Belknap, Villgro Kenya’s chief operating officer (COO), “financial constraints are, to a large extent, one of the biggest reasons individuals are unable to get adequate medical help in some regions on the sub-continent. It is against that backdrop that clinicPesa’s unique approach is geared towards making savings for healthcare services as easy and convenient as possible. This will assist people in getting the needed treatment in the event of an infirmity. We are excited to be working with clinicPesa, alongside other partners, towards introducing this product to the market.”
Through what is said to be a well-structured program, Villgro Kenya is expected to deliver in terms of financial support, top-notch membership, connections to healthcare networks, access to product development experts, as well as links to strategic partners and investors – all these in a bid to support the two Ugandan startups as they attempt to advance and enhance healthcare delivery across various regions of the continent.
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