Kenyan healthtech startup Zuri raises $1.3m to expand across Africa
Kenyan healthtech startup Zuri Health has raised $1.3 million in funding to expand across Africa. The startup which offers mobile-based healthcare attracted investment from DOB Equity, Launch Africa and Founders Factory Africa.
Zuri Health connects mass-market patients with affordable, convenient, and quality healthcare services via SMS, WhatsApp and a dedicated app. The company initially launched in Kenya in January 2021 but is now present in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia. Zuri Health 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.
The startup was launched by 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.
Anoke previously spent several years at technology company Mtech, where he led efforts to provide value-added services to mobile subscribers, while Isiaho previously worked for another tech company, MarketForce. This experience has helped Anoke and Isiaho understand how to improve and democratise access to healthcare in a post-Covid environment, enabling them to develop the business model of Zuri Health and map out its growth trajectory. Zuri Health has partnered with telecoms like MTN, Safaricom and Telkom (Kenya) and aggregates healthcare providers like medical labs, pharmacies, and hospitals. This has enabled Zuri Health to bring healthcare services closer to patients - doctors are a few clicks or a text away.
Ikechukwu Anoke, CEO and Founder, 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.”
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.
According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners & Dentists Council, Kenya only 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.
Zuri Health plans to use this recent investment into further building out its digital platform, growing its product offerings and launching operations in new markets. This has also been made possible with additional investments from 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.