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What OneHealth, Other Nigerian Startups Do Differently To Access Funding in Africa

When Google announced that it had chosen 60 startups for its Black Founders Fund in Africa, many Founders from different countries hurried to check out the successful businesses. Nigeria topped the list with 23 tech startups clinching a third of the total startups funded. 

In September 2022, six of the 30 startups from 14 different African countries selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the Investing In Innovation initiative were Nigerian startups. They were OneHealth, Lifebank and many others. 

In the same month, Disrupt Africa shared a report that revealed that Nigeria has led tech startup funding on the African continent over the last eight years. Naturally, many other African Founders have wondered what Nigerian startups including OneHealth, an online Pharmacy and healthcare platform, do differently that make them stand out when applying for such opportunities. Let’s take a look at what makes them such fundable startups. 

Solve A Major Problem

A common fact is that each funded Nigerian startup solves a major African problem. For example, OneHealth provides solutions to Africa’s lack of access to essential medications that prevent or treat illnesses in a timely manner. 

An article from the United Nations highlighted that at least 1.6 million Africans died of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-related illnesses in 2015. These deaths could have been prevented with access to affordable and quality medications.

For OneHealth, access to medications is a basic human right and this is why the startup leverages technology for last-mile delivery of medicines, and aggregates partners with different health service providers to offer relevant health solutions to many people. So far, the startup has helped at least 8000 people gain access to pharmacare from a network of over 1000 partners across the 36 states of Nigeria. 

Founded by Adeola Alli, a graduate of the school of Pharmacy at the University of Manchester with an MBA from I.E Madrid, and licensed in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, OneHealth has proven that it can directly save the lives of people living in Africa by providing access to medicines and healthcare solutions for individuals and healthcare providers.

Join A Community Of Tech Leaders

Nigerian Founders also have a good community of partners, friends, colleagues, classmates, even family who in one way or the other invest in the country’s tech ecosystem. These Nigerian Founders build communities that help each other succeed and they get to share the best opportunities possible, grow their networks and drive their startups effortlessly. 

Based on Funmilayo Labulo’s discourse on communities for Startup Founders, she highlighted that communities are easier because they are immediate sources of information and support. 

For OneHealth’s Founder, Adeola Alli, “Community is everything, not just for the obvious reasons like business partnerships, but really as a support group. Who can better understand the trials and triumphs that come with running a startup?”. 

Healthtracka’s CEO & Co-founder, Ifeoluwa Dare-Johnson once said that, “The tech ecosystem is not as that clicker but finding your tribe, people that support you would make life easier in the tech space”.

Have A Scalable Startup

Many Nigerian startups are quite scalable. Zuckerberg visited Yaba, an area in Lagos known as Nigeria’s Silicon Valley in 2016 because he truly believed he could learn a lot from the startup ecosystem in the country. And he did. 

Zuckerberg singled out startups like Lifebank, a healthcare technology and logistics company for their ability to locate available blood supplies and deliver them to hospitals. 

Lifebank continues to scale because they have a track record and expansion trajectory. Many Doctors and patients will continue to need blood in hospitals and this automatically created a demand for Lifebank’s services. 

The same applies to OneHealth. The startup has a demand for medicines in hospitals, homes, schools, organizations, etc and Adeola Alli understands that scaling a startup requires grit, creativity, collaborations, learning and relearning especially when challenges arise. This is how every African Founder should think. 

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DrugStoc Secures $4.4M in Series A Funding to Expand Access to Quality Pharmaceuticals in Africa. 

Healthtech startup, DrugStoc has raised USD 4.4 million in Series A funding to expand access to quality medicines while providing sustainable supply chain financing for healthcare providers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The funding round is led by Africa HealthCare Master Fund (AAIC), and other investors include Chicago-based venture firm Vested World and the German Development Bank (DEG). 

Nobuhiko Ichimiya, Director at AAIC stated that, “We are very excited to be part of the Drugstoc journey. The pharmaceutical market in Africa has enormous growth potential and we are glad to back a company well-positioned to be a key player in the sector’s growth in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Chibuzor Opara, DrugStoc’s co-founder and CEO; asserted that “We are committed to making an impact in the healthcare industry. This funding will enable us to expand and launch our tech-enabled products in more African countries where pharmaceuticals are critically needed.

Launched in 2017, DrugStoc is a cloud-based platform that provides healthcare providers with the interface for easy access to pharmaceuticals and healthcare products. It ensures that patients get quality medicines at affordable prices. It boasts superior quality control systems with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification on Good Distribution Practice. 

Having grown over the last three years with an almost 1500% increase in monthly sales since January 2018, 14 million people currently have access to genuine healthcare products through hospitals and pharmacies covered by DrugStoc. With this funding round, the company will grow coverage to about 100 million people. It plans to achieve this by expanding its supply chain infrastructure both digitally and physically. Digital expansion will see DrugStoc build out its tech solutions to boost access and accommodate more partners as it extends coverage beyond Lagos. DrugStoc will also build on its partnerships with financial institutions such as Sterling Bank, to increase access to sustainable supply chain financing. 

The company, founded by two seasoned professionals in the health sector, Chibuzo Opara and Adham Yehia, has powered over nine million prescriptions and projects 12 million by the end of 2021. Chibuzo Opara said: “Fragile and resource-challenged healthcare systems require a radically transformative set of market-based strategies to expand access to healthcare. The DrugStoc way re-engineers the value chain digitally, improving and expanding access to healthcare at the same time.”

It is predicted that Africa’s pharmaceutical industry will be worth $56 billion to $70 billion by 2030, from just $5.5 billion in 2007. However, the broken supply chain and chaotic distribution channels on the continent still pose a significant challenge. It affects the delivery of quality medicines, affordability of pharmaceuticals and efficient healthcare delivery for health workers. Innovation to solve supply chain challenges is a key opportunity in this growing market. 

Based on estimates from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Africa imports about 94% of its pharmaceutical and medicinal needs from outside the continent. Drugstoc is ensuring that more vital drugs, vaccines and health technologies are supplied safely, effectively and affordably to more people.

According to Liam O’Connor, who is also among a group of individual Silicon Valley investors, “DrugStoc has demonstrated impressive growth and the ability to improve healthcare providers’ access to pharmaceuticals in Nigeria. I am excited to support DrugStoc’s innovative work building a reliable, resilient, and high-quality pharmaceutical supply chain across Africa.  I am confident that DrugStoc will succeed in making a critical healthcare difference that will help save lives.”

In 2016, DrugStoc was incubated under Stanford’s Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies; and in 2019 made the shortlist as one of ten finalists for the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, Jack Ma’s flagship entrepreneur program in Africa. It also won the award for the Technology Enabled Distributor of the year, at the Nigeria Health Excellence Award in 2019 and 2021.

The healthtech startup will now double down on its vision to change the way healthcare providers interface with the pharmaceutical market and revolutionize sub-Saharan Africa’s access to quality pharmaceuticals.  

CardinalStone Partners Limited acted as Financial Advisers to DrugStoc.

About DrugStoc

DrugStoc is a healthtech platform for healthcare facilities and workers to source the medications, lab and medical consumables, and small medical devices they need. The company is driven by the vision to provide sub-Saharan Africans with quality and affordable pharmaceuticals through innovating efficient and transparent supply chains.

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