Innovate for Life
An increasing number of African countries combine young populations with political stability, economic growth and robust internet infrastructure—all of which are ideal conditions for creating new markets and piquing investor interest. But the challenges, including highly regulated healthcare systems, burgeoning populations, investor bias torwards energy and agriculture are not small. So how do talented African health entrepreneurs evolve their ideas in environments with few funders and weak networks? Innovate for Life, Amref Health Africa’s new accelerator for East African health entrepreneurs addresses this gap by offering skills building, networks and access to seed funding.
The Elsevier Foundation is one of the launching partners of the Fund. The program is the pioneer of health sector specific focusing on the ‘missing middle’: entrepreneurs with employees that are too large for microcredit, but (as yet) too small for traditional commercial investors. Amref brings 60 years of African healthcare knowledge and deep local and international networks to the accelerator. Innovate for Life offers a tailor-made Accelerator and Entrepreneur in Residence programme, and has embedded six talented entrepreneurs at the Amref Health Africa offices in August 2017. In January 2018, the top three entrepreneurs were invited to partner with Amref, offering follow up support and joint outreach to investors both in Africa and worldwide.
The first accelerator cohort consisted of 6 entrepreneurs from Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya who attended intensive training weeks in Sep and Nov 2017 on health- and business-related topics. They were given networking opportunities with Kenyan entrepreneurs, investors, the Kenyan Minister of Health, Elsevier and Amref. The top 3 entrepreneurs selected are:
- Omomi: an online community app for young mothers to monitor and respond to the health challenges of children under five. It now has over 30,000 users.
- Mahauty Health Solutions: a product line of preservative free, nutritionally balanced foods for children. It also connects over 8.000 mothers via social media and provides regular nutritional advisory sessions using Facebook Live.
- Usalama: an emergency services app connecting users to seven emergency service providers and 5400 downloads.
Read the press release “New Investment Fund for African Entrepreneurs in Health care” on the Amref Health Africa website.