In Summary

  • Villgro Africa has made a significant impact on the healthcare sector in Kenya and Africa by investing in startups with the potential to create positive change and drive growth.
  • Opportunities for African and local investors to fund promising startups include a Biotech Innovation Hub and a $30 million fund.

Villgro Africa is planning to launch a Biotech Innovation Hub in its regional expansion bid to back its Sh170 million invested in 36 Kenyan healthcare startups in the past seven years.

The incubator and impact investor says it will reveal more details on the plans when it launches its 2015-2022 Impact Report during the annual 2023 Sankalp Summit.

“Since inception, Villgro Africa has enabled access to healthcare to those at the bottom of the pyramid. In the past seven years, Villgro has steadily invested seed funding in social enterprises with homegrown solutions that are solving Africa’s healthcare and lifestyle dilemmas,” said Villgro Africa CEO and Co-Founder Wilfred Njagi.

He added, “To date, these enterprises have generated revenues of over $5.2 million, generated 540 jobs and touched more than 2 million lives.”

The Impact Report shows Kenyan startups got the lion share of Villgro Africa’s seven-year investments accounting for Sh166.3 million of the Sh271 million committed since inception.

“As we continue to scale, we are excited about the launch of a Biotech Innovation Hub that will create shared value by leveraging East Africa’s genetic diversity to accelerate the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for the control and elimination of poverty-related diseases, rare diseases, neglected tropical diseases and NCDs,” Njagi revealed.

Villgro Africa co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer Dr Robert Karanja urged startups and investors to take advantage of prospects in the local manufacturing in the healthcare sector.

“Going forward, local sources of funding will be needed. Reduced international funding would be an opportunity for African governments, corporates, and others to invest in the start-up ecosystem,” said Dr Karanja.

Villgro Africa seeks to partner with Jaza Rift Fund to launch an Incubator-Fund Platform and targets to raise $30 million to support startups that will graduate from the incubator.

Below are some of key startups which Villgro Africa has invested in:

• Drop Access - a Kenyan company locally manufacturing portable solar powered, smart fridges that can be mounted on a motorbike, bicycle, or boat, to transport vaccines, and other medical items to rural, off-grid and hard-to-reach communities.

• Bena Care, a Kenyan company providing home-based care, working to reduce the cost and increase the quality of healthcare, especially for the elderly and those with life-limiting illnesses.

• Negus Med, an advanced wound care and theatre textiles distribution and manufacturing company that increases access to innovative medical equipment and consumables with an aim to be the premier advanced wound care and theatre textiles suppliers in the region.

“As we celebrate 7 years of growth and impact, we are incredibly grateful for a pipeline of quality companies, for funders who believe in the vision, our board members and mentors who freely give of their time and expertise and our clients who entrust their plans to our team,” added Villgro Africa Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Rob Beyer.

Njagi thanked AUDA NEPAD, Johnson & Johnson Foundation, AI4D (funded by IDRC & SIDA), Boehringer Ingelheim Social Engagement (BISE) and other partners for their support.