Kenyan startup Miti Health, which provides chemists with business management and supply chain software on the Android platform, hopes taking part in the Unreasonable East Africa accelerator programme in Kampala this summer will allow it to scope out Uganda as a possible expansion market while also gaining to access to investors and mentors.
Disrupt Africa reported earlier this year Miti Health was one of 12 startups selected to take part in the Unreasonable East Africa programme, and Jennifer Stutsman, East Africa programme director at Miti Health, told Disrupt Africa the startup’s participation would offer it several opportunities.
The Miti Health Android application is designed to help chemists streamline their business, improve productivity and save time, with the software allowing users to record sales, manage inventory, generate reports, reorder medication and receive special offers through the platform. It was started by Stanford University students who had worked in the Kenyan healthcare sector.
“A lot of the interventions in the public sector were not targeting chemists and pharmacies,” Stutsman said.
Fifteen shops in Kenya and Tanzania are currently using Miti Health’s platform, paying a monthly subscription of KES1,000 (US$10) up to a total purchase point of KES24,000 (US$240), after which chemists own the software outright. The startup has is in the process of finalising new features and will begin marketing in earnest.
“What we’re looking for is ways to build out strong distributor and supplier networks,” Stutsman said. “That’s the second part model that we will be focusing on for the next six months.”
She said the company has located itself in Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria, because it thinks it will grow fastest in western Kenya. Stutsman said there are 6,000 pharmacist outlets in Kenya in the private sector, offering a ripe market.
“We think chemists are a large market in Kenya and across this region that aren’t being served by tech solutions,” she said.
“We would love to see 20 per cent of that market. As we grow and we have a product that we’re really proud of we’ll be able to test the boundaries of where we can grow on that scale.”
However, Miti Health – which is funded by Stanford and winnings from the D-Prize – is also looking further afield.
“We think this could work across the continent, we have less experience with West Africa so we’re really focused on East Africa,” Stutsman said, adding the startup would use this summer’s trip to Uganda to examine market conditions for a launch there.
An upscale in marketing will be crucial to this, with much of the business Miti Health has obtained so far being through referrals or door-to-door sales. Stutsman said it was now looking at chemist meetings and partnerships to further awareness.
However, even though geographic expansion is on the agenda, she said there were no plans as yet to take the Miti Health platform into other sectors, though the tech is broadly applicable.
“We’ve focused on mimicking the workflow of chemists specifically. We’ve focused on designing a product that is specifically for chemists so it provides a product that works in a way that other products don’t,” Stutsman said.
The company is in fact looking to add to its current product, expanding into the drug certification area by using a drug field testing kit developed by the Global Pharma Health Fund.
“We will actually be running the drug quality tests to identify substandard drugs,” she said, adding that chemists would be able to notify Miti Health as they find substandard drugs.
Unreasonable East Africa, Stutsman said, would be useful for Miti Health as it looks to obtain mentorship and funding.
“We would love some mentorship as we scale this business. We’re also really focused because we’re moving into the second phase of how we demonstrate our impact on the supply chain,” she said.
The startup is also getting into a position to pitch to investors, with Stutsman saying it was spending time working out where it fits on the spectrum between for-profit and non-profit businesses.
“We spend a lot of time looking at social enterprise models,” she said, adding that any funding would be used for tech, team, marketing and demonstrating impact.