i3, a pan-African initiative funded by the Gates Foundation, is giving 29 startups operating in Africa’s healthcare supply chain equity-free funding. 

Investing in Innovation Africa (i3), a pan-African initiative for start-ups in the healthcare supply chain, has announced its second cohort of 29 companies across 21 countries. The cohort includes startups that are building online pharmacies and telemedicine firms, inventory management services for pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals, supply chain data analytics, product protection, and product visibility solutions. 

Selected startups will receive a $50,000 grant and introductions to potential customers in industry, donor agencies, and governments. “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, the director of global health agencies and funds at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Startups will also receive investment readiness support from CcHub for west Africa, Startupbootcamp AfriTech for southern Africa, IMPACT Lab for north and francophone Africa, and Villgro Africa for east Africa. The cohort is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and sponsored by Cencora, Merck Sharpe & Dohme, Microsoft, and Chemonics. 

The first i3 cohort was launched in 2022 following the release of Salient Advisory’s published Market Intelligence Report and is coordinated by Salient Advisory and the Solina Centre for Research and Development. “From market intelligence, we could see the activity of health tech startups in the ecosystem and building on that, we wanted to support them to scale because we believe that data and innovation will power the healthcare supply chain of the future,” Somto Keluo-Udeke, a senior consultant at Salient Advisory, told TechCabal. 

The cohort accepted both early-stage and growth-stage startups but only considered startups solving problems in Africa with African founders present on the continent. “For early-stage (startups), they have a minimum viable product, are already generating revenue and have a strong plan to scale and sustain growth. For growth stage (startups), a more well-defined product, revenue model, sales, and operations,” Keluo-Udeke said.  

Source: Salient Market Intelligence Report 2022

Across Africa, the supply of healthcare remains highly fragmented, which in turn affects the quality and price of medicine. Some African countries pay as much as 30 times more than the United States and the United Kingdom for medicine. While startups have significantly improved the availability and quality of medicine, the problem of high prices remains unsolved. Keluo-Udeke told TechCabal that to remedy this, the cohort only included startups that operate with “a data-driven distribution or digital-driven distribution of health products in their model.”

Another problem i3 wanted to solve with this cohort was the exclusion of African women from funding. In the African healthtech sector, black women founders have raised only 9% ($21.6 million) of all-time funding. “We have a focus on women-led companies and had a target of 33% of women-led companies in this year’s cohort, and we were able to exceed it. Another segment we focused on was francophone Africa because it tends to get overlooked,” Keluo-Udeke said. 

Meet the i3 2023 cohort

  1. Afia Group Limited
  2. Aimcare Health
  3.  Bena Care 
  4. BioCertica
  5. Chari Pharma
  6. CheckUps Medical
  7. Chefaa
  8. Dawa Mkononi
  9. Drugstore Nigeria
  10. Famasi Limited
  11. Field Intelligence, Inc.
  12.  GICMED
  13. Grinta
  14. Healthtracka
  15. Kapsule
  16. Medical Diagnostech
  17. Medpharma Alliance International Limited
  18. Octosoft Technologies Limited
  19. Pharmarun
  20. Pharmaserv Health Project Nigeria Limited 
  21. Reductiona
  22.  SASA Health Limited 
  23. Tech Care For All Eastern Africa 
  24. Technovera – Pelebox Smart Lockers 
  25. Tibu Health
  26. UltraTeb 
  27. Waspito 
  28. WellaHealth
  29. Welo

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