Impact investor and business incubator Villgro Kenya has awarded US$20,000 each in grant funding to three innovative e-health startups, two from Uganda and one from Kenya.
The India-based Villgro Innovations Foundation launched an incubator for early-stage businesses in the healthcare and life sciences sector in Nairobi in 2017.
In India, Villgro works with early-stage for-profit social enterprises that have an impact on the lives of the poor, incubating companies in sectors such as education, health, energy and agriculture. Villgro Kenya is a health-focused incubator offering mentoring, funding and access to networks.
After backing two Ugandan companies and two Kenyan ones in 2018, Villgro invited East African startups that have designed innovative, tech-enabled medical devices to apply for funding and business incubation support in October of last year.
It has now chosen three early-stage, hardware-based health innovations as winners, each of which will receive US$20,000 in funding as well as incubation support via as high-touch mentorship programme.
Two of those startups are from Uganda, namely Wekebere, a social enterprise that combines connected devices with data analytics to increase access to care, and A-lite, which has developed a low cost, non-invasive vein locator.
The third grantee is Kenya’s Kijenzi, which has developed a 3D printing service that ensures health centres in low-income communities are able to produce medical equipment replacement parts when they need them.
Villgro Kenya will offer these startups financial support, high-touch mentorship through a structured program, access to networks of healthcare and product development experts and connections to investors and strategic partners.
“With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution in healthcare, hardware innovations continue to show great potential in driving UHC in Africa. Their ability to provide access to quality healthcare services to the underserved continues to front them as good investments for health impact in Africa. We are happy to partner with all these organisations to support their innovations on their journey to scale,” said Dr Robert Karanja, chief executive officer (CEO) of Villgro Kenya.