Zuri Health, a digital healthcare startup has raised $1.3 million in seed funding for expansion across Africa to further build out its digital platform, grow its product offerings and launching operations in new markets.
The $1.3 million round was closed from DOB Equity, Launch Africa and Founders Factory Africa with participation of V8 Capital, Platform Capital, Villgro Africa, Asime Ventures, and the Salik Family Trust. As part of Platform Capital’s investment in this round, Dr. Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital will also be joining the advisory board.
According to Ikechukwu Anoke, CEO and Founder of Zuri Health: “We are driven by the impact our service could have —to be a solution to Africa’s lack of sufficient healthcare. Healthcare infrastructure in most parts of Africa is grossly inadequate, with painfully high doctor-patient ratios. There are many Africans who cannot afford healthcare services or who live too far away from healthcare facilities. And with skilled healthcare workers increasingly leaving Africa for greener pastures, the situation is worsening.”
“We have a burning desire to democratise healthcare access and harness the power of technology to provide quality, first-tier medical services.”
This has also been made possible within a move that will help the startup offer affordable mobile-based healthcare via mobile platforms such as SMS, WhatsApp, social media and messengers.The firm has partnered with telecoms like MTN, Safaricom and Telkom (Kenya) to connect doctors, medical labs, pharmacies, and hospitals to patients. Zuri Health is present in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia and has so far partnered with 16+ major mobile network operators in seven countries with over 400,000 SMS subscribers, over 300 doctors, 27 lab and diagnostic centres and 15 pharmacies across its markets.
Efforts to scale quality healthcare services affordably remain a challenge across Africa. The World Economic Forum reports that the continent bears 25% of the world’s disease burden but only has 2% of the world’s doctors.
Available data from the Kenya Medical Practitioners & Dentists Council, show that Kenya has an estimated 10,500 licensed doctors. Each doctor in Kenya would need to serve around 5,300 patients annually to meet the country’s demand for healthcare. Furthermore, understaffing at lower-level facilities in more remote parts of the country causes patients to crowd national-level hospitals in urban areas. This situation results in longer patient wait times and crippling pressure to meet even some of the most basic healthcare needs, let alone urgent, complex cases.
Saskia van der Mast, Co-CEO of Nairobi-based Dutch private equity firm DOB Equity, said: “We are excited to support the growth of Zuri Health as it builds an innovative and scalable platform that will enable access to healthcare for millions of rural and urban communities”.
Zuri Health was launched by Nigerians Ikechukwu Arthur Anoke and Daisy Isiaho after they both faced personal health crises that were solved by telemedicine. They saw this as an opportunity to build an affordable, personalised and convenient customer journey for mobile subscribers seeking healthcare services.