African e-health startups secure $1.5m Skoll Foundation grants

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African e-health startups mPedigree and mPharma are among the five organisations to have been awarded US$1.5 million in grant funding after winning the 2019 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship.

Organised by the Skoll Foundation, which supports and invests in social entrepreneurs and innovators solving the world’s most pressing problems, the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship recognise and reward transformative leaders whose organisations disrupt the status quo and drive sustainable large-scale change.

Awardee organisations each receive US$1.5 million in core support investments to scale their work and increase their impact.

Among this year’s winners are Bright Simons and Selorm Branttie of Ugandan startup mPedigree, which fights drug and agricultural seed counterfeiting with a product identification marker that consumers use to determine authenticity immediately with a mobile phone.

Also recognised was Gregory Rockson of Ghana’s mPharma, which takes ownership of the medicine supply chain, eliminates inefficiencies, and introduces price controls by buying drugs on behalf of pharmacies which then sell them to patients.

In addition, mPharma announced it has agreed to acquire Haltons Pharmacy, Kenya’s second largest pharmacy chain, in a deal subject to the approval of the country’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA). Rockson said he was excited by Haltons’ vision to bring high quality and safe medicines to the mass market.

South Africa’s Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, which builds scalable solutions for the youth labour market across the formal and informal economy, was also selected among the winners, as were US-based initiatives Crisis Text Line and Thorn.

“These brave entrepreneurs are on the frontlines of solving the world’s most pressing problems,” said Jeff Skoll, founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation. “Each social entrepreneur may have a distinct approach, but they all share a relentless pursuit of impact and the desire to create a more just world.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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