Moses Mukundi, founder and CEO of Eden Care Medical —Y Combinator’s Summer class, 2023— speaks to TechCabal about how the team is re-imagining healthcare. 

In 2018, Moses Mukundi had a life-threatening health emergency. As an investment banker accessing health insurance, he needed the doctor to sign off on his form. “My insurance rejected paying a claim because the doctor had stamped but had not signed the claim form. I had an acute allergy attack and had to be treated immediately,” he said on a call with TechCabal. And as the turnaround time took much longer than usual, Mukundi had to pay out of his pocket to get treated. 

That was his motivation to begin Eden Care Medical, a health tech startup. Eden Care Medical uses technology to simplify access to healthcare through its group life insurance and wellness plans. Mukundi believes this can be achieved by making healthcare accessible in terms of price point while aligning payments of healthcare premiums to a monthly-based payment— as opposed to 12 months upfront. With the right product, Mukundi believes that via this method, fraudulent claims are reduced and a viable plan is generated. He tells me that he launched his startup first for personal reasons. “This is not just something that I think has a large impact. But it’s also personal. I think I would not want anyone else to experience what I went through just because of a very minute detail,” he said while speaking from San Francisco.

According to Mukundi, access to Healthcare, which is facilitated by health insurance, remains very limited. “About 15 million Africans go into poverty every year due to a large medical bill. When you look at health insurance penetration in Africa, it’s sitting at about 0.2%,” he said.

In Rwanda, healthcare has been historically low over the years. The country has suffered shortage of medical personnel and high cost of accessibility. President Paul Kagame is paying more attention to this problem by creating health posts and unbundling the problem to a system of health insurance providers called mutuelles de santé

When I tried to use the app on the call, I was presented with a login that needed me to provide my company’s email login and password. Mukundi said the major target market for Eden Care is workers (remote or full-time) and students. “Already, the national health insurance covers anyone who’s unemployed. So, that’s not our target market. We believe where insurance will have material impact is for the employed and students. The product here is built with freedom for you to be able to buy the product through your employer. Or you can buy the product directly,” he said. To that end, the issue of defaults is lesser. He remarked that he had never encountered default issues while growing the startup. 

The road to Y Combinator

As an investment banker who moved from Uganda to Rwanda to work, Mukundi knew all there was about crunching numbers and selling insurance—he spent six years understanding its failures and experiencing those failures on a personal level. During the pandemic, he got admission to Wharton for an MBA. But he didn’t finish. “I was not going to pay another $100,000 for another Zoom university. So I decided to drop out of school and go build a business,” he told me with a chuckle. 

In 2017, the Rwandan Central Bank had placed a ban on new health insurance licences. According to the Eden Care Founder, the market was on the verge of collapse as competitor firms in the space cut prices until it became unsustainable. The Central Bank of Rwanda responded by regulating the market. After three months of convincing, the apex bank lifted all restrictions in August 2021. At this stage, the startup sought a funding raise to meet the financial obligations involved in getting a licence.

Mukundi did not disclose how much was raised in pre-seed funding, but by the end of 2021, they succeeded in gaining their license and the funds required to forge ahead. In January 2023, the startup rolled out the product to the market.

Mukundi says Eden Care Medical is present in over 500 healthcare facilities, but some of the challenge of building a digital infrastructure  is repeatedly rethinking its tech infrastructure. “This is probably the most complex startup I have done in terms of all the number of moving parts, right? You are dealing with six plus stakeholders as opposed to many startups where you largely have two or three maximum stakeholders. This is a lot more complex, and you must figure out how to build technology and connect different parts of this stakeholder group.”

The biggest win

Despite the challenges with regulation, Mukundi’s biggest win is cutting the time of seeing a doctor from 30 minutes to five minutes. Instead of queuing to fill out paperwork before seeing a doctor, you can go to the hospital and show them an OTP on your mobile phone through your app and see the doctor. “We are making health insurance simple, fast and stress-free,” he said. Mukundi said that their tech infrastructure is fast enough to onboard staff in large organisations without having to fill out any paper. Mukundi says insurance is easily sold through an aggregator and that aggregator here could be your employer, university, or an association. This is how Eden Care Medical onboards large groups and receives premiums through which the individuals enjoy healthcare.

Next steps

The usual funding given to Y Combinator firm is around half a million dollars. Mukundi says the funds are for expansion into other African countries, making sense of the data they have collated in building something new and perfecting the app on wellness and prevention. “Eden care products are focused on wellness and prevention because we have identified that there is a big gap in the market,” he said. The Y Combinator funds, according to Mukundi, is a validation of efforts of the growth of African healthcare and the innovation of AI in diagnostics and record keeping. The benefits are immense. “Getting into a place like Y Combinator helps elevate you, ahead of the park and makes fundraising easier. It also makes hiring a lot easier and that is why it was really important for us being the first company from Rwanda,” he added.

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Joseph Olaoluwa Senior Reporter, TechCabal

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