Villgro Africa has put more than $1.36 million into 36 Kenyan healthcare startups in the last seven years. As part of its plans to grow in the region, the company plans to open a Biotech Innovation Hub.
The incubator and impact investor announced these plans at the annual 2023 Sankalp Summit, where it also released its 2015–2022 Impact Report.
Wilfred Njagi, CEO and Co-Founder of Villgro Africa, said, “Since the beginning, Villgro Africa has given people at the bottom of the pyramid access to health care.”In the past seven years, Villgro has steadily put seed money into social enterprises with homegrown solutions to Africa’s health and lifestyle problems.
So far, these businesses have made over $5.2 million, created more than 540 jobs, and helped more than 2 million people.
The Impact Report shows that out of the $2,146,401 Villgro Africa has invested since it began seven years ago, $1,317,087 has gone to Kenyan startups. This is the lion’s share.
Wilfred said, “As we continue to grow, we are excited about the launch of a Biotech Innovation Hub that will create shared value by using East Africa’s genetic diversity to speed up the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for the control and elimination of poverty-related diseases, rare diseases, neglected tropical diseases, and NCDs.”
Dr. Robert Karanja, co-founder, and Chief Innovation Officer at Villgro Africa, said that startups and investors could benefit from local manufacturing in the healthcare sector.
From now on, money will need to come from local sources. Less money from abroad would give African governments, corporations, and others a chance to invest in the start-up ecosystem. Dr. Karanja added.
To make this happen, Villgro Africa wants to work with Jaza Rift Fund to start an Incubator-Fund Platform with a goal fund size of $30 million to help startups that have graduated from the incubator.
Some of the startups in which Villgro Africa has invested are:
Drop Access a Kenyan company that makes portable, solar-powered smart fridges mounted on a motorbike, bicycle, or boat to transport vaccines and other medical supplies to rural, off-grid, and hard-to-reach communities.
Bena Care, a Kenyan company that provides care at home, is trying to lower the cost and improve the quality of health care, especially for the elderly and people with diseases that are getting worse and won’t let them live much longer.
Negus Med makes and sells advanced wound care and theatre textiles. It also makes and distributes innovative medical equipment and supplies. Its goal is to be the region’s best-advanced wound care and theatre textiles supplier.
Rob Beyer, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, said, “As we celebrate 7 years of growth and impact, we are so thankful for a pipeline of quality companies, funders who believe in the vision, board members and mentors who give their time and expertise for free, and clients who trust our team with their plans.”
Wilfred said this about Villgro Africa’s partners: “Most of Villgro’s strength has been ensuring everyone has equal access to health care, especially the most vulnerable groups. We can credit the success of the last seven years to our partners.”
He ended by saying, “We sincerely thank all our stakeholders and partners who have helped us change the health care system in Africa, including AUDA NEPAD, the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, AI4D (funded by IDRC and SIDA), Boehringer Ingelheim Social Engagement (BISE), and others.”
With all the help we’ve gotten so far, we’re confident that Villgro Africa is in a good position to get startup capital and technical support to where needed most to change 30 million lives in Africa by 2030.