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MSME

How these healthcare startups are changing the narratives in the ecosystem

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Gerocare

Seeing the challenges faced in caring for the elderly in Nigeria, largely because of the scarcity of fully functional healthcare centres and geriatric homes, Gerocare was set up to bridge the gap for the shortfall of available healthcare targeting the aged.

The risk of health failing is higher with the elderly especially when left alone. Most times the children are in the cities ‘hustling’ or even outside the country.

Once signed up on the platform, the elderly get regular affordable home visits by medical doctors to ensure improved qualities of life by keeping them healthy, comfortable and happy while at the same time enabling their children (who subscribe to the service) to follow their parents’ or elderly loved ones’ care real time with a mobile application‎ no matter where they are in the world – no matter what city their parents are in Nigeria. The platform has registered health caregivers including medical doctors spread across the country.

Launched officially in May 2017, this online healthcare service is headed Dr. Ebi Ofrey, a medical practitioner with more than 15 years’ experience. The platform has also recorded some successes despite initial apathy to the startup by Nigerians. According to Dr. Ofrey:

“Nigerians have a poor preventive health culture; they feel there is no need to see a doctor until they are ill when, in fact, it may be too late. So, there is a need to create awareness to help them understand that the reason why they are fine is the reason why they should now –  it is cheaper, the person will have less recovery to go through and the quality of life will be maintained.”

The range of services/products includes:

  • Scheduled visits and check-ups.
  • Ambulance services for quick responses during emergencies.
  • Monitoring of personal health for the elderly.

 

LifeBank

Temie Giwa-Tubosun, the founder and CEO of LifeBank, established the platform in 2015 to help reduce blood shortage in the country.

The platform provides a record of blood banks available all over Lagos, which allows health centres to find the relevant blood types and order delivery. The company delivers an average of 300 pints of blood a month to more than 170 hospitals across the state. The technology and logistics startup uses technology to discover blood and deploys this information to hands of various hospital clients.

Explaining how the system works, Giwa-Tubosun said:

“Let’s say you’re a donor, I register on the platform and I book an appointment, LifeBank finds the closest blood bank to you. It books an appointment for you at the blood bank. You go to the blood bank you give blood… We have about 3,000 donors registered on our platform who’ve agreed to give blood to save lives. Our goal is to get to one million active donors for our donor app. We also have a goal to get to every hospital, every single hospital within Lagos in the next 2 years.”

Through the app, medical professionals can order blood from about 25 blood banks in Lagos. Orders are filtered by blood type, location, and urgency. LifeBank’s logistics team then stores the blood in a cool chain system—keeping it at 10 degrees Celsius—and transports it in a Bluetooth-padlocked box that only the intended recipient can open.

Over the next 2 years, the platform intends to move 100,000 products to 2,000 hospitals and save 100,000 lives. They are also building a movement of a million Nigerians ready and willing to give blood to save lives. The platform has been successful at encouraging more people to save lives by becoming blood donors.

The digital blood bank recently raised  $200,000 in seed funding to enable nationwide expansion. Investors in this seed funding include EchoVC and Fola Laoye — an angel investor with over 20 years of experience in Nigeria’s healthcare industry and participation from CcHub.

Kangpe

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This Y Combinator startup aims to cash in by providing Africans with a platform to contact doctors remotely through their mobile devices.

Kangpe helps to bridge the gap between doctors and patients in the country by allowing users from all over Africa to ask health questions anonymously and get answers from real and verified doctors in less than 10 minutes. Doctors get paid for every answer they provide that patients find useful.

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Users can access Kangpe’s platform by downloading and installing the mobile app on either a simple or smartphone and typing in medical questions.

It was launched by friends, Femi Kuti, Ope Olumeken and Matthew Mayaki in 2016;  Kuti came up with the idea originally while working as a doctor in the country. As he tells it, friends and patients would constantly hit him up via text about their symptoms and he thought it would be a good idea to turn the advice he was giving out for free into a startup.

It currently operates in Ghana and Kenya as well, potentially serving a combined population of roughly 245 million people at the moment. According to Kuti, the startup has so far on-boarded 60,000 users.

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Drugstoc

This Nigerian pharmaceutical platform is getting worldwide recognition for easing access to regulated wholesale drugs to those who are qualified to sell or retail them. Whether one is a pharmacist, doctor, hospital, or pharmacy you can check prices, compare, and order all pharmaceutical products available in Nigeria directly from hundreds of first-tier distributors nationwide at the click of a button.

The app ensures that every hospital, pharmacy or facility signed up to the platform can receive safe and good quality drugs in the fastest, safest, cheapest and most efficient way possible, while effortlessly cutting off counterfeit medication and supply chain disruptions.

How the platform works

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  • Browse thousands of NAFDAC registered drugs available from accredited wholesalers in Nigeria.
  • Find the right brand for patients by comparing similar compositions, manufacturers, and country of origin.
  • Use logistics and get bulk orders within 48 hours and rush orders on the same day.
  • Flexible payment options – cash on delivery, secure online payment, and available credit options.

There is still much room for improvement in the healthcare sector in the country but these startups are taking steps in the right direction. Hopefully, we will get to see more healthcare startups focused on mother and child health care, among others, in the country which would be accessible in villages and remote communities.

 

 

Fikayo has a degree in computer science with economics from Obafemi Awolowo University. ITIL v3 in IT service management. An alumnus of Daystar Leadership Academy. Prior to joining Nairametrics had stinct in Project management, Telecommunications among others. Also training in Consulting and Investment banking from Edubridge Academy. He has very keen interest in Politics, Agri-business, private equity and global economics. He loves travelling and watching football. You can contact him via [email protected]

Columnists

How MSMEs can get easy access to finance

MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness.

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How MSMEs Can Get Easy Access to Finance

MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Nigerian economy. In 2019, they made up 90% of all registered businesses, contributed more than 50% of the country’s nominal GDP, and employ 84% of its labour force. Despite this, MSMEs were the recipients of less than 5% of all credit granted by the banking industry.

One reason for this is self-selection by MSME owners. Many MSMEs refuse to apply for loans from banks due to a fear of rejection and a belief that banks charge exorbitant fees and request hefty collateral before giving loans to MSMEs. Now more than ever, in this era of cashflow-based lending and low-interest rates, this harmful myth is costing businesses access to finance that they need to scale.

Another reason is the MSMEs’ lack of loan readiness. Unlike large companies, small business owners do not prepare themselves before applying for loans. This causes them to make many mistakes that discourage banks from lending to them due to a fear of non-repayment.

In order to overcome this hurdle and join large businesses in taking advantage of the low-interest climate, MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness:

1. Maintain financial records – Research shows that 69% of MSMEs in Nigeria do not keep detailed financial records. As a business owner, you must ensure that funds pass through your business account. Your business’s financial records as reflected in your bank statement will help your bank determine your repayment capacity. This is important, whether you want a collateral-free or collateral-based loan.

2. Use narrations for transfer into personal accounts – Again, always use your business account for business funds. However, if funds must be paid into your personal account for any reason, then ensure that those payments have a narration that reflects the purpose of the payment. For example, Two shirts purchased. This helps isolate business funds from personal when computing your turnover in order to determine your loan amount and repayment capacity.

3. Know what you want – Always know exactly how much you want and what you want it for. If your account officer asks you how much you want and you say “any amount you can give me”, they automatically assume you have no plan for the money or a plan for repayment. Before approaching your bank, determine how much you need and how much you can repay per month, using your monthly income.

4. Have a repayment plan – Always have a plan for repayment. Know how much you can afford to part with per month. Note however that your repayment plan might not align with that of the bank. Banks prefer not to take more than 33% of your monthly income in loan repayments, so your loan repayment period will probably be dependent on how much you can pay per month. Regardless, a well-thought-out repayment plan will build confidence in your repayment ability.

5. Engage your account officer– It is important to have an engagement with your account officer before applying for the loan. Instead of just writing a loan application letter to the bank and waiting for a response. Armed with your financial statement and your knowledge of how much you need and for how long, visit your account officer and have them work with you in getting your loan.


Ese Atakpu is a writer and banker.

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Commodities

AFEX raises $50 million to Finance Agri-SMEs in Nigeria

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the agric sector.

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AFEX to partner with FMDQ and Dubai Commodities Exchange, 50,000 farmers to benefit from AFEX Commodities agric funding initiative

AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX), a private commodities exchange company, has announced the first Warehouse Receipt Backed Commercial Paper in Africa. The paper has tech-enabled operations and a 24-hour fast cash turnaround for borrowers.

This was disclosed by AFEX in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the Nigerian agricultural sector with a commodity-backed instrument – for the first time.

READ: AFEX partners FMDQ, Dubai Commodities Exchange to deepen markets opportunities

Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX, stated, “The AFEX financing deal will help eradicate the high cost of procurement incurred by processors by deploying a discounted value of a warehouse receipt distributed among five leading players in the Food and Beverage, Trading Poultry and Animal Feed segments in Nigeria.

“The receiving companies are top 10 players in their respective segments. They have now been enabled access to a tool for managing price volatility, enabling up to 30% direct savings on prices.

“With our vision to reach a cumulative total of over $5 Billion in investment to the agriculture sector over the next five years, this financing deal is right on track to achieve this goal.’’

He added that as AFEX move towards building a derivatives market in Africa, “we want to be able to reduce exposure to price risk for stakeholders, by enabling them to hedge their positions and trade in commodity derivatives.”

READ: CBN to increase loans to agricultural sector to 10% of total bank credit

Why it matters

  • The warehouse receipts, which can then be transferred from commodities to a financial asset and listed under the borrower’s portfolio on the AFEX trading platform, will create a sustainable funding structure and address underfunding in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
  • With the warehouse receipt system linked to financiers, the system allows financiers value and marks the commodities’ price to market on a real-time basis.

What you should know

  • AFEX’s mission is to provide low-risk working capital facility for stakeholders in the Agro sector, in a way that is transparent and has a very high viable investment return.
  • As a licensed commodities exchange and warehouse receipt system operator, it deploys a warehouse receipt system and collateral management infrastructure to increase market confidence for both lenders and borrower.

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