Rwandan Start-Ups Get U.S.$50,000 Grant, Wider Market From Bill Gates-Funded Initiative

18 September 2023

Two Rwandan companies have been announced among 29 African healthcare start-ups that will get funding from Investing in Innovation Africa (i3), an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Afia Group, which owns the pharmaceutical e-commerce platform Afia Pharma, and Kapsule, a healthcare data service company based in Kigali and London will receive a $50,000 grant, each.

We have been chosen as one of the 29 startups in Africa for the 2nd cohort of the i3 program! We're grateful to the selection team & sponsors for believing in our mission. With a $50,000 grant and access to market opportunities, we're ready to make an impact.#i3Cohort2 Afiapharma Online Pharmacy (@PharmaAfia) September 18, 2023

"We are very excited about being selected from nearly 3,000 African companies working in the healthcare supply chain," Pappy Biganza, the CEO of Afia Group told The New Times.

"We will use the grant to expand our user base and upgrade our system and human resources. It will strengthen our operations."

The 29 start-ups, chosen from 10 African countries, deliver digitally-enabled healthcare supply chain solutions, according to a September 18 statement by Investing in Innovation Africa, which describes itself as a Pan-African initiative for start-ups building the future of healthcare supply chains.

Up to 38 percent of these start-ups are led by women, and 17 percent operate within Francophone Africa. Innovators are building online pharmacies and telemedicine firms, as well as inventory management services for pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals, supply chain data analytics, product protection, and product visibility.

Besides the $50,000 grant, the selected start-ups will also receive access to market opportunities to foster growth-focused partnerships with donors, industry, and institutional stakeholders as well as tailored investment readiness support from leading accelerators.

In November, the innovators will attend a two-day event in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where they will connect with industry stakeholders, donors, and multilateral agencies.

The connections are made to drive the commercialisation and scale of the start-ups through mutually beneficial contracts, pilot projects, and investments. The first cohort of 31 companies supported by i3 in 2022 forged 24 contracts, pilots, and strategic partnerships to date, the organisation said.

"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," said Kieran Daly, Director of Global Health Agencies and Funds at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"Programmes like i3 help us understand, support, and engage with technology-driven solutions emerging across Africa, hand-in-hand with our partners."

The i3 initiative is also sponsored by Cencora, Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD), Microsoft, and Chemonics.

The 29 selected companies are Afia Group Limited, Aimcare Health, Bena Care, BioCertica, Chari Pharma, CheckUps Medical, Chefaa, Dawa Mkononi, Drugstore Nigeria, Famasi Limited, Field Intelligence, Inc, GICMED, Grinta, Healthtracka and Kapsule.

There is also Medical Diagnostech, Medpharma Alliance International Limited, Octosoft Technologies Limited, Pharmarun, Pharmaserv Health Project Nigeria Limited, Reductiona, SASA Health Limited, Tech Care for All Eastern Africa, Technovera - Pelebox Smart Lockers, Tibu Health, UltraTeb, Waspito, WellaHealth, and Welo.

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