Kenyan startup Ilara Health raises $735k seed funding round

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Kenyan startup Ilara Health, which is bringing affordable diagnostics services to doctors, has raised a US$735,000 seed funding round to grow its offering in the East African country and ultimately beyond.

Founded last year, Ilara Health sources tech-powered diagnostics equipment and makes it accessible to Africans who struggle to afford it, bundling the equipment and integrating the devices via a proprietary technology platform. Doctors pay a deposit to use the equipment and then pay off the remaining cost in installments determined by usage.

The startup has raised US$735,000 in seed funding from investment firms ShakaVC, Chandaria Capital, and Villgro Kenya, with the round also including angel investors such as Esther Dyson, Nijhad Jamal, Aadil Mamujee, Selma Ribica, and Shakir Merali. Several of the new investors will become strategic advisors to the business.

This round of investment will be used primarily to grow Ilara Health’s peri-urban medical clinic customers in Kenya, and ultimately beyond. It will also allow the company to build a flexible technology platform to manage and protect valuable patient health and clinic financial data.

“Seventy per cent of patients need some form of medical test to inform their treatment, but many doctors across Africa have limited ability to perform diagnostics in their clinics. When a patient needs a test, doctors often refer them to a lab. Given the infrastructure challenges across the region – the time, the money it takes to get anywhere – patients frequently fail to attend and care breaks down,” said Emilian Popa, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at Ilara Health.

Esther Dyson, angel investor and executive founder at Wellville, said she had invested in Ilara because she had watched CEO Popa explore the market to find the perfect, sustainable product-market fit. 

“Moreover, the need is great, and the benefits of simple, cost-effective diagnostic tools will extend well beyond the patients and doctors, affecting first Kenya and ultimately the continent at large,” she said.

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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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