Drug and medical equipment shortages in Rwandan health institutions are becoming a thing of the past, thanks to an innovation addressing procurement constraints.
Viebeg Technologies, a Health Tech company, backed by venture capital, is making it easier for more people in Central and East Africa to get affordable healthcare by helping healthcare facilities buy supplies in real-time.
It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to manage supply chain processes like shipping, warehousing, distribution, and inventory management to ensure that healthcare facilities have the right medical supplies.
Viebeg’s data-driven logistics platform was partly funded by the Rwanda Innovation Fund, which the African Development Bank partly funded.
According to Tobias Reiter, co-founder and chief executive officer of Viebeg Technologies, the company’s AI-driven medical procurement platform establishes a direct connection between healthcare providers and manufacturers.
This takes brokers and middlemen out of the value chain, which saves customers up to 40% on costs.
We saw that many medical facilities didn’t have the right supplies. We also heard that in Africa, someone dies every five minutes from a disease that could be prevented if we had the right medical supplies,” Reiter said.
The company started in 2018 and works with many health facilities in Rwanda. According to Alex Musyoka, the company’s Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, two million people have been treated with Viebeg products.
It is already supporting more than 500 sites in various countries of East Africa, including Kenya, Burundi, and Congo. Musyoka said the company intends to grow throughout Africa.
Many healthcare facilities in Rwanda praise Viebeg because it makes it possible for them to find essential products for their fields at affordable prices.
Dr. Amol Kulkarni, one of only three maxillofacial surgeons in Rwanda, started the Kivu Specialist Clinic.
Modern tools are very important for specialists who fix problems with the mouth, teeth, and jaws, but they are often too expensive for African people. Dr. Amol said that Viebeg helped his clinic get an orthopantomogram machine, which takes a panoramic X-ray of the upper and lower jaws. This made the clinic even more cutting-edge.
He said that the new OPG machine would be paid for completely in 4 months.”. We are thought to have some of the best equipment in Rwanda. Viebeg helped me start my clinic, and now that I have her as a partner, I’m sure we can keep it going.”
In the same way, the old anesthesia machine at the Ejo Heza Surgical Centre in Kigali had broken down, so they needed a new one. But they didn’t have enough money to buy another one.
Since Viebeg lets customers pay for products differently, Ejo Heza became a customer and got the new equipment within three weeks. This has made it possible for our facility to keep saving lives, says Dr. Dominique Savio Mugenzi, an orthopedic surgeon and the Managing Director at Ejo Heza.
Thanks to Viebeg’s service, we now buy our medical supplies and equipment through the platform. This has led to a big drop in the costs of purchasing medical supplies and the number of times we run out of them, says Mugenzi.
Mukando Cesare is a patient who has felt the power of a well-equipped healthcare facility made possible by Viebeg’s innovation.
“I was sick, but the gynecological equipment available allowed the doctor easily identify the problem.L
Now that I’ve had four surgeries, I’m getting better. I’m grateful for these services,” she said, adding that she was happy with the care she got at the Best Care Hospital in Kigali in July 2022. She had a 10-hour surgery at a local hospital, but her condition worsened because the hospital didn’t have the tools to diagnose her accurately.
Six months after getting money from the Rwanda Innovation Fund, Viebeg’s annual sales went from $80,000 to $180,000, a 125 percent increase. Musyoka thinks that by the end of 2022, the amount will have grown to $2.5 million.
Aside from increasing revenues, the money has allowed the company to conduct staff training, access working capital, and hire more people.
The African Development Bank made a $30 million investment in the Rwanda Innovation Fund. The Bank’s assistance is consistent with the country’s National Information Communication Infrastructure (NICI) III Plan, which emphasizes the relevance of ICT in boosting citizen service delivery.
The Bank’s Director for Industrial and Trade Development, Dr. Abdu Mukhtar, said, “Digital innovation has the potential to transform industries, but to do so, it needs financial support.” Viebeg is an excellent example of what can be done when creativity, entrepreneurship, and money come together correctly.
The Rwanda Innovation Fund, which was started by the Rwandan government and partly financed by the African Development Bank, has been a critical part of Viebeg’s growth.
Local investment in a local firm has resulted in dramatic local outcomes. It is a cooperation approach that has the potential to succeed in other markets.”