Villgro Africa, an impact investor incubating and supporting early-stage social entrepreneurs in Africa to grow and scale through technical assistance and investments, has disbursed funding to five different start-ups, amounting to a total of US$170,000. The organisations include Simbona, DawaPay, Wekebere and Damu Sasa.
Simbona, based in Ethiopia, is a healthcare research and development company that designs and develops healthcare equipment and ICT systems, including a UV light that was developed in response to COVID-19, killing the virus and therefore allowing reuse of PPE along with complete sanitization of spaces and equipment. They have been given a US$50,000 grant specifically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the support of Villgro Africa, Simbona has worked on business model development, sales team building, UV machine design improvement, and organizational restructuring. Since receiving US$50,000, Simbona has been working on various critical activities related to ultraviolet technology manufacturing and sales as a company. We have been able to produce more than 75 machines for hospitals, universities, hotels and so on.” Habtamu Abafoge, Founder of Simbona Africa.
DawaPay is a Kenyan digital platform that partners with pharmaceutical manufacturers in promoting the last-mile distribution of affordable essential medicines and laboratory consumables to urban and peri-urban based retail pharmacies and medical labs respectively, while facilitating efficiency on the delivery logistics, saving customers money and time. Villgro Africa has recently invested US$50,000 in equity in the Dawapay pre-seed round towards positioning for the syndicate round.
Wekebere is based in Kampala, Uganda and is developing a maternal healthcare device that focuses on improving access to quality, timely, affordable antenatal care services by offering home-based and hospital-based monitoring that aims to improve the working conditions of midwives while promoting early detection and prevention of pregnancy complications, one of the leading cause of maternal mortality in Africa.
Villgro Africa has recently invested US$20,000 in grant funding towards product refinement and initial clinical pilot on safety and efficiency at Kawempe Referral Hospital, which delivers an average of 80 babies per day.This will help the business in further refining the device and preparing for a clinical trial with 2,000 mothers in four districts across Uganda, towards mass production and integration into the healthcare system.
“The seed funding from Villgro helped us to accelerate development and clinical validation of the Wekebere device and it will help us to build out our commercialisation efforts for the first product.” Stephen Tashobya, Founder and CEO of Wekebere
Damu-Sasa is based in Nairobi, Kenya and has received a COVID-19 focused grant of US$50,000. They provide a cloud-based, end-to-end blood services information management system to support the sourcing of blood, managing inventory and transfusion processes including haemovigilance, thereby ensuring well-informed decision making based on the data they collect. The grant will enable Damu Sasa to enlarge its mobile application base to include iOS users while also expanding the number of facilities using the system.
“The Damu Sasa team are extremely focused and committed to solving the challenges within the blood services supply chain. We at Villgro Africa are keen to collaborate with them to achieve their vision while looking to unlock more capital as they grow the organization.” Rob Beyer, Cofounder and Executive Chair of Villgro Africa.