Ugandan e-health startup Teheca is in the process of raising equity investment after seeing strong uptake utilising grant money.
Founded in 2015, Teheca is focused on reducing the mortality rates of mothers and infants in developing countries through increasing the uptake of postnatal care services, while providing alternative income sources for health workers.
Its app connects new mothers to nurses for hospital and in-home post-birth care and support, while the startup also makes and sells the prepared mama bag, a kit that contains all the essentials required for a clean and safe delivery.
“We believe that high mortality rates can be reduced by increasing accessibility to postnatal care services, a seamless and efficient channel to follow up on mothers so as to ensure timely identification, and referral of would-be-life-threatening conditions in mothers and babies while at home after discharge from hospital,” Ruyonga Daniel, Teheca’s chief executive officer (CEO) told Disrupt Africa.
The startup began focusing on maternal health in 2017, and now has around seven requests for nurses per week. It has seen about 500 app downloads so far, mainly from customer referrals, while in the last quarter alone it has recruited 45 nurses.
All of this has been done from grant funding. Teheca took part in the first African version of Google’s Launchpad Accelerator last year, while it also bagged some cash from the UNFPA UpAccelerate programme in 2017. MasterCard is another backer, taking the total grant cash in Teheca’s coffers to well over US$20,000.
It wants to raise seed funding to achieve its growth targets, however. Daniel said Teheca wants 5,000 users by the end of this year, and hopes to be booking 100 nurse visits per day by the end of 2020, which would make the startup comfortably profitable.
“We shall be opening up a seed round of US$250,000 later this year that will be directed to product development and funding customer acquisition,” he said. Teheca also plans to expand to Kenya within the next two years.
“We see the Teheca service as one that we can replicate in most African cities since we have very similar healthcare challenges,” Daniel said.
The company makes money by charging nurses a commission for connecting them to mothers, as well as selling products such as the mama bag.
“As of today, we look at Teheca as a managed marketplace where we participate deeply in setting prices, helping the nurses with the logistical requirements like contracts, invoicing, receipting, to the provision of uniforms and tools to help them help them do their job. We let the nurses focus on providing care to the clients and we handle all the logistics relating to delivering the service,” said Daniel.
“We are also venturing into other verticals, like training and upskilling, as alternative revenue sources.”
The biggest difficulty thus far has been customer acquisition, hence the need for funding.
“We are providing quite a new service, that is not so traditional, hence the need for educating before acquiring and converting the customer. That is why we are very excited about the growth in the referral rates both on the parent and nurse end,” Daniel said.