Image source: The Guardian Nigeria

Patent and proprietary medicine vendors (PPMVs) are known as individuals without formal pharmacy training who sell orthodox pharmaceutical products on a retail basis for profit. They are often the primary healthcare providers for a significant portion of the Nigerian population, especially in rural areas where access to formal healthcare facilities is limited. These vendors offer various services, including treatment for malaria and diarrhea and family planning services.

There are a number of challenges facing PPMVs. However, given the informal nature of their business, limited access to credit remains one of the most pressing issues. Financial institutions often hesitate to extend credit to PPMVs due to perceived risks, lack of collateral, and limited credit histories, hindering their ability to expand their businesses and invest in essential resources.

Charity Ukwo Abah, deputy director of the enterprise development and promotion department at Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), emphasized the significance of access to sustainable financing schemes for PPMVs to expand their businesses and offer a wider range of quality medications. 

“Empowering PPMVs with access to credit financing is essential for their growth and ability to provide improved healthcare services to the communities they serve. This will lead to better healthcare outcomes for Nigerians, especially those in underserved areas,“ Mrs Abah said during a TechCabal Live event held in partnership with Solina Group that discussed the role of technology in enhancing access to credit for PPMVs. The event had in attendance key stakeholders in the health sector interested in strengthening health inclusion in Nigeria.

“PPMVs play a critical role in delivering healthcare services, but their effectiveness is hampered by challenges such as counterfeit medications and lack of clear regulatory frameworks, Emeka Okafor, project director at IntregratE, said. “By working together with regulatory bodies and pharmaceutical companies, we can strengthen PPMVs’ capabilities and enhance access to quality healthcare for all citizens,” he added. He also highlighted the need for improved regulation and collaborations with pharmaceutical companies to build a more robust and inclusive healthcare system.

According to industry leaders, it is crucial for financial institutions to integrate technology in providing credit to PPMVs.  Technology can be used to build a digital credit scoring system specifically for PPMVs. This will provide access to relevant data such as sales performance, customer feedback, and inventory which will help financial institutions better assess the creditworthiness of these vendors.

This data-driven approach will enable lenders to make informed decisions, reducing perceived risks and facilitating access to much-needed financing. This, in turn, will empower PPMVs to expand their businesses and improve healthcare services nationwide.

Ayomide Agbaje Data and Research Analyst, TechCabal Insights

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