Indian-based investment firm, Villgro Africa, has disbursed US$170,000 funding to five different start-ups, in its bid to support early-stage social entrepreneurs in Africa.
The startups that benefited from Villgro Africa’s funding are: Simbona, DawaPay, Wekebere and Damu Sasa.
The early-stage business incubator and impact investor offers mentoring, funding and access to a networks of startups.
One of the startups that benefited from Villgro Africa’s funding is Simbona. Simbona is a healthcare research and development company that is based in Ethiopia.
Simbona develops healthcare equipment and ICT systems, including a UV light that was developed in response to COVID-19, eliminating the virus, and therefore allowing reuse of PPE along with complete sanitization of spaces and equipment.
Another company that received the funding is Kenyan-based digital platform, DawaPay. DawaPay partners with pharmaceutical manufacturers in promoting last-mile distribution of affordable essential medicine and laboratory consumables.
Damu-Sasa, a startup that provides cloud-based, end-to-end blood services information management system to support the sourcing of blood, managing inventory and transfusion processes, also received Villgro Africa’s funding.
Villgro also allocated US$20,000 to Ugandan company Wekebere, which is developing a maternal healthcare device that focuses on improving access to quality, timely, affordable antenatal care services.
Each start-up received US$50,000 in funding, with Damu Sasa having also received funding from Villgro at the end of last year. DawaPay’s funding is the only one of the four that is in return for an equity stake – the others are all grants.
Rob Beyer, co-founder and executive chair of Villgro Africa, commented on Damu Sasa, he said:
“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 organisation.”
Speaking on the grants, Habtamu Abafoge, Founder of Simbona Africa, said:
“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.”
Stephen Tashobya, founder and CEO of Wekebere, also commented on the funds received:
“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.”
Villgro Innovations Foundation expanded to Africa in 2017 with a launch in Kenya. However, last year, the organisation rebranded as Villgro Africa, and expanded across the continent in a bid to support more e-health startups.