YC-backed Pharmtech, Remedial Health raises $1M pre-seed fund to stem fake drugs in Africa
Remedial Health has today announced it has secured $1 million in pre-seed funding to digitize pharmacies and standardize pharmaceuticals in a bid to stem the supply of fake and substandard drugs in Africa.
The pre-seed round was co-led by UAE based Global Ventures, and Nigerian based VC firm, Ventures Platform, with participation from Ingressive Capital,Voltron Capital, Opeyemi Awoyemi (Jobberman co-founder) Angel Syndicate Fund, and other angel investors, including Flutterwave’s Olugbenga “GB” Agboola and Victor Asemota.
A portion of the new funding will be used to expand the startup’s buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) service to a wider public.
Samuel Okwuada, a certified pharmacist and self-taught software developer, and Victor Benjamin, a pharmaceutical field sales agent, founded Remedial Health in 2020. It used to be a private label business that concentrated on contract manufacturing items from places like India and selling them to pharmacies in Nigeria.
“That business was pretty small. But at least we were in the market and we were growing,” said Okwuada, CEO Remedial Health.
Remedial Health began going in a new path months after launching the company, due to a shift in market demand and supply chain inefficiencies worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. Customers began placing orders for items that were not part of their private label offering.
They designed a patient medication records (PMR) system that made sourcing easier and digitized pharmacies to keep up with the rising demand and expedite the ordering procedure.
Remedial Health’s technology allows pharmacists to manage their operations, place orders, and track them – all within 24 hours, according to the company. Patients’ medical records are also stored on the platform, which also provides reporting and accounting.
“For those using the system, because we can basically see their shelves, we are solving their supply issues by ensuring that they’re getting the products when they need them. And so they don’t have to go to the market and waste time by going through 20 to 30 individual distributors to buy all the medicines and supplies that they need.”
Recognizing that some markets would take time to digitize, Remedial has created an online shop that lets pharmacy operators who do not use its system to place orders using an app.
“We don’t force everyone to use the system because we don’t assume that every single pharmacy has a computer and constant power supply. And because we know that the major problem is supply, we make it possible for them to access the procurement system on their phones.
The system helps Remedial to conduct inventory monitoring, which cuts stock outs by redirecting products that are not moving in one pharmacy to where supply is short, or demand is high.
The startup has a main distribution center supported by hubs spread across its regions of operation for a faster turnaround time – making it possible to “reach any pharmacy from any of our hubs within an hour.”
Last-mile delivery is handled by its in-house logistics team or by partners, but the company plans to combine its system with a big logistics company in Nigeria to provide a seamless end-to-end solution.
Remedial Health is already active in six states, with aspirations to grow throughout West Africa and into new African markets before the end of the year.
Remedial, also part of the winter 2022 cohort of Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator accelerator, sources its medicines from over 100 pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers, including GSK, Pfizer, and Astrazeneca, as well as Nigeria’s Orange Drugs, Emzor, and Fidson Healthcare.
To date, the startup has over 300 pharmacies that order through its app, and a number of others using WhatsApp. It also extends credit to pharmacies with plans to expand the coverage of this financing service.
“The pharmacies don’t have to pay for products upfront; in some cases, they pay deposits, maybe 20%, and then pay the balance over time, but depending on how well we’ve known them, it can even be 100% financing.”
Remedial Health has joined a growing number of tech-enabled enterprises that are digitizing pharmaceutical supply to mitigate the spread of fake and substandard medicines in the market. MyDawa, mPharma, DrugStore are some of the top tech-enabled pharmacies that Remedial Health has to slug it out with for the market domination of the continent.
According to its creators, Remedial Health’s goal is to not just address supply chain issues, but also to bring primary healthcare closer to consumers.
“These pharmacies are less than a 15-minute walk from people’s houses, and I feel that is the way to transform healthcare in Africa –By adding diagnostic services, and a doctor to these neighborhood pharmacies — by literally bringing everything to the people, we would really transform healthcare in Africa,” he said.