Since the term was coined in 2016, femtech, a sub-sector in health technology dedicated to creating solutions that address female wellbeing continues to gain traction and attract VC funding globally. In Africa, however, the space is still very much in its budding phase. This segment is dedicated to telling stories of innovators, their solutions, the investors and challenges of the sector as it blooms in the continent.
Kasha, an East African e-commerce platform focused on women’s healthcare and beauty products has raised US$1 million to expand their reach in Rwanda and Kenya as well as into other countries in the region.
The funding came from the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd. (Finnfund), a Finnish development financier and professional impact investor with investments and commitments totalling about €800,million half of them in Africa.
Finnfund invests across a number of sectors in private-owned businesses driving sustainable development in developing countries. Also a key focus of its investments are businesses that advance gender equality. Last year, Finnfund joined the 2X Challenge which aims to collectively mobilize US$3 billion in commitments for women’s economic empowerment in developing countries. In line with this Finnfund has committed €105 million to support businesses advancing gender equality between 2019 and 2021. It has disbursed €57 million from April 2019 till date.
“Kasha fills all the 2X Challenge criteria; the two founders are both female, the company has 100% female ownership, 50% of senior management and the board are women. 64% of the workforce are women and women have equal representation, also in terms of influence and decision-making roles. 82% of the Kasha clients are women,” says Finnfund’s Investment Manager Johanna Raehalme about the decision to invest in the company at this time.
“We were convinced by their strong mission and at the same time, we see that e-commerce is rapidly growing its share of consumer spending,” Raehalme said.
Kasha was founded in 2016 by Joanna Bichsel and Amanda Arch for women to easily access genuine feminine healthcare, medical, beauty and personal products including culturally taboo products like contraceptives. Baby items are also available on the platform.
Kasha first launched in Rwanda and has since expanded into Kenya. The company says it has served over 55,000 customers, of which 75% are low-income, and delivered close to 600, 000 products. The company has previously raised over US$1 million and US$400,000 in seed and grant funding respectively.
“We are a very purpose-driven company with a strong focus on our customers. We deliver the products that women actually want and need in a way that is most private and discreet for them”, says Kasha’s CEO and Co-founder, Joanna Bichsel.
In addition to expanding its reach in Rwanda and Kenya, Kasha is now also providing health and pharmaceutical products specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kasha is already serving as a safe way to get hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, masks, gloves and eventually COVID diagnostic rapid tests,” said Bichsel.
The company is also using its content channels to disseminate accurate information on how people can keep safe.
“As people are turning increasingly towards ecommerce, Kasha’s role in serving as a safe way to get reliable health products through their platform is more relevant than ever,” Raehalme said.
In addition to the investment, Finnfund will provide the company with business support necessary to scale their e-commerce company.