Healthcare incubator Villgro pumps $100k grant cash into Kenyan, Ugandan startups

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Nairobi-based healthcare incubator and investor Villgro Kenya has invested a total of US$90,000 into Kenyan startup The Pathology Network and Uganda’s clinicPesa.

Launched in 2017, Villgro Kenya is an early-stage business incubator and impact investor that offers mentoring, funding and access to networks to startups in the healthcare and life sciences sector in East Africa.

The organisation, which earlier this week awarded US$150,000 in grant funding to 12 startups from East Africa that could help in testing, monitoring and managing aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak, provides equity-free capital and support to innovative healthcare-focused startups. 

Having announced its last grantees in March, Villgro has now provided Kenya-based startup The Pathology Network with US$50,000 in funding. The startup has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered digital platform linking small labs to specialised ones for seamless test referral, with access to specialists remotely to shorten the turnaround time for diagnosis.

Dr Joshua Kibera, chief executive officer (CEO) at The Pathology Network, said the investment was catalytic and that his company would greatly benefit from the technical assistance and business coaching offered by the Villgro Kenya team.

“On behalf of everyone at The Pathology Network, I would like to thank Villgro Kenya for a meticulous and transparent due diligence process and for choosing to invest in our company. We are excited to partner with Villgro and look forward to revolutionising the diagnostic space together,” he said.

Wilfred Njagi, co-founder at Villgro Kenya, said while most investors are scaling back on deals due to the business slump being experienced in many parts as a result of COVID-19, Villgro was stepping up its financing efforts. 

“At Villgro Kenya, we strongly feel that this is the time that enterprises need all the financial support that they can get to cushion themselves against the negative economic impact of COVID-19. We are proud to play a small role in ensuring that startups outlive the pandemic,” he said.

Meanwhile, the organisation has also announced an additional investment of US$50,000 in Uganda-based clinicPesa, having invested US$40,000 in the startup back in 2018. clinicPesa is a digital micro-savings and loans platform that provides users with convenient and affordable means to accessing healthcare. The startup’s CEO Chrispinus Onyancha welcomed the additional investment.

“We envision improving access to healthcare services and reducing self-diagnosis through mobile money savings and micro-loan top-ups for the uninsured population in Uganda and other African markets,” he said.

Villgro Kenya portfolio manager Gibson Muriuki said the additional funding had been made available to clinicPesa based on their impact since the initial investment.

 “ClinicPesa’s unique approach to health insurance will give more communities access to quality and affordable health in Uganda. After working with them this past year, we have noted their commitment and progress in making key partnerships to ensure they scale their product,” he 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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