Villgro Africa to Launch US$30M Fund for Healthcare Startups in Africa
Villgro Africa has set its eyes on launching an Incubator-Fund Platform in partnership with Jaza Rift Fund, with a target fund size of $30 million, aimed at supporting startups graduating from the incubator.
This decision is informed by reports that estimate Africa’s healthcare market will be worth $259 billion by 2030; Africa will present 14 per cent of health and wellbeing business opportunities, only second to North America which currently holds 21 per cent of the opportunities.
“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 solve Africa’s healthcare and lifestyle dilemmas. To date, these enterprises have generated revenues of over $5.2 million, generated 540 jobs and touched more than 2 million lives,” said Wilfred Njagi, CEO and Co-Founder, of Villgro Africa as he launched the firms’ 2015-2022 Impact Report.
According to the report, which was launched at the 2023 Sankalp Africa Summit, over $2,146,401 committed since inception has been distributed to 53 health startups. Out of these startups, 36 are Kenyan and have received the lion’s share of the incubator’s investments accounting for $1,317,087.
Njagi says the firm which is now present in ten countries is also launching a Biotech Innovation Hub to support researchers who want to build products that can be commercialized.
“As we continue to scale, we are excited about the launch of a Biotech Innovation Hub that will create shared value by leveraging Africa’s genetic diversity to accelerate the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for the control and elimination of poverty-related diseases, rare diseases, neglected tropical diseases and NCDs,” Njagi explained.
Ethiopia has also been a country to watch with Villgro investing in leading health startups such as Simbona Africa, ($ 65,000 in 2017), Kaffabio, BioTech $20,000, and Lucy Enset $ 20,000 in 2021.
A deliberate effort to ensure gender inclusion in Villgro’s impact investment work saw Ghana’s women-led healthcare enterprises receive up to $50,000 invested as follows; GAPhealth $20,000, Corporate Health Ghana $15,000, MOCHcare $10,000 and Binyoh for $5,000.
Robert Karanja, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Villgro Africa said that local manufacturing in the healthcare sector presents an opportunity for startups and investors.
“With Africa’s population projected to hit 1.6 Billion people by 2030, coupled with a rising middle-income population, and the emergence of the double burden of disease due to lifestyle-related diseases, investment in the healthcare sector is a no-brainer. Going forward, local sources of funding will be needed. Reduced international funding would allow African governments, corporates, and others to invest in the start-up ecosystem.”
On his part, Rob Beyer, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman added, “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.“
Appreciating Villgro Africa’s partners, Njagi said, “While most of Villgro’s strength has been in increasing equitable access to health care, especially to the most vulnerable groups, it is through our partners that we can attribute the last seven years of success.”
“We sincerely thank all our stakeholders and partners who have walked this journey of transforming Africa’s Healthcare sector with us; AUDA NEPAD, Johnson & Johnson Foundation, AI4D (funded by IDRC & SIDA), Boehringer Ingelheim Social Engagement (BISE), among others. With all the support we have garnered to date, we strongly believe that Villgro Africa is well positioned in mobilizing startup capital and technical assistance to where it’s most needed – to transform 30 million lives in Africa by 2030.”