Nigerian anti-counterfeiting startup, Chekkit, has secured a $500,000 pre-seed funding round to enable it to expand its operations within the pharmaceutical and FMCG industries.
Pan African VC, Launch Africa, Japan Strategic Capital, Blockchain Founders Fund, and two syndicate groups of angel investors participated in this round. The company also received a grant from Netherlands’ Orange Corners program.
The startup which started at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana, operates a platform that tracks product movement and the parties involved in the transfer of products from the warehouse to the distributor, and on to the final consumer.
Chekkit essentially works as an anti-counterfeiting, asset tracking, and consumer feedback analytics tool. It produces tamper-proof unique ID labels, either as QR codes or numeric codes, which can be placed on premium packaged food and beverage products for supply chain and consumer feedback tracking.
After a successful pilot in Afghanistan, Chekkit claims it has secured over seven million pharmaceutical products and protected over 200,000 consumers, working with pharmaceutical companies like Merck, Royal Star Pharma, and Nabros Pharmaceutical. The funding is to further expand its reach in this sector, as well as in the FMCG space, where it already works with brands including Indomie, Nivea, and Flour Mills of Nigeria.
“We are super-pumped about the future as we develop unique technological products to protect the lives of millions and also directly improve the act of doing business for several brands by learning about consumers in the largely informal African markets,” said Chekkit chief executive officer (CEO) Dare Odumade.
“We will be launching the first consumer intelligence software-as-a-service for consumer brands to create end-to-end loyalty campaigns, aggregate engagement data, and distribute rewards in-house and with their marketing agencies for the first time, enabling consumers to directly interact with brands through QR and USSD shortcodes printed directly on the product package.”
Biola Alabi, co-leader of one of the angel syndicate groups, said investing in Chekkit was a “no brainer”.
“They are tackling the scourge of fake drugs in Nigeria and across emerging markets globally. One of the biggest challenges still facing the pharmaceutical and healthcare systems in Africa is fake and substandard drugs, weak regulatory environments, and lack of consumer education. Fake and substandard drugs are responsible for thousands of deaths annually across Africa,” she said.
“Chekkit is already working with governments to strengthen and heighten pharmacovigilance, patient education, and advocacy. The application is saving lives by simultaneously detecting and notifying consumers, manufacturers, and policymakers from the minute fake or substandard drugs are detected. I’m excited that the company is building and using blockchain to build out its solution. Chekkit, with an experienced team, local and global traction, is poised to save more lives and I’m proud to be an investor and lead a team of other investors to build.”