Villgro Africa ,a Nairobi-based business incubator and early-stage investor focusing on health and life sciences has invested over $1.36 million in 36 Kenyan healthcare startups over the last seven years and now seeks to launch a Biotech Innovation Hub as part of its regional expansion.
According to the 2015–2022 Impact Report, launched at the annual 2023 Sankalp Summit. Kenyan startups received the largest share of Villgro Africa’s investments at $1,317,087 out of the $2,146,401 committed since inception.
Wilfred Njagi, CEO and Co-Founder, Villgro Africa said, Since inception, Villgro Africa has enabled access to healthcare to those at the bottom of the pyramid. In the past seven years, Villgro has steadily invested seed funding in social enterprises with homegrown solutions that are solving Africa’s healthcare and lifestyle dilemmas.
So far, these enterprises have yielded revenues of over $5.2 million, created 540 jobs and touched more than 2 million lives.
“As we continue to scale, we are excited about the launch of a Biotech Innovation Hub that will create shared value by leveraging East Africa’s genetic diversity to accelerate the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for the control and elimination of poverty-related diseases, rare diseases, neglected tropical diseases and NCDs,” explained said.
According to Dr. Robert Karanja, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Villgro Africa, local manufacturing in the healthcare sector presents an opportunity for startups and investors.
“Going forward, local sources of funding will be needed. Reduced international funding would be an opportunity for African governments, corporates, and others to invest in the start-up ecosystem.” Dr Karanja added.
Villgro Africa now wants to launch an Incubator-Fund Platform in partnership with Jaza Rift Fund, with a target fund size of $30 million, intended to support startups graduating from the incubator.
Notable startups that Villgro Africa has invested in include :Drop Access, a Kenyan company locally manufacturing portable solar powered, smart fridges that can be mounted on a motorbike, bicycle, or boat, to transport vaccines, and other medical items to rural, off-grid and hard-to-reach communities.
Bena Care, a Kenyan company providing home-based care, working to reduce the cost and increase the quality of healthcare, especially for the elderly and those with life-limiting illnesses.
Negus Med, an advanced wound care and theatre textiles distribution and manufacturing company that increases access to innovative medical equipment and consumables with an aim to be the premier advanced wound care and theatre textiles suppliers in the region.
Rob Beyer, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman added, “As we celebrate 7 years of growth and impact, we are incredibly grateful for a pipeline of quality companies, for funders who believe in the vision, our board members and mentors who freely give of their time and expertise and our clients who entrust their plans to our team.
While thanking Villgro Africa’s partners, Wilfred said, “While most of Villgro’s strength has been in increasing equitable access to health care, especially to the most vulnerable groups, it is through our partners that we can attribute the last seven years of success. We sincerely thank all our stakeholders and partners who have walked this journey of transforming Africa’s Healthcare sector with us; AUDA NEPAD, Johnson & Johnson Foundation, AI4D (funded by IDRC & SIDA), Boehringer Ingelheim Social Engagement (BISE), among others. With all the support we have garnered to-date, we strongly believe that Villgro Africa is well positioned in mobilizing startup. capital and technical assistance to where it’s most needed — to transform 30 million lives in Africa by 2030.”