When the healthcare corporation first reached out to Impact Hub Lagos in search of potential healthcare startups to invest in, two organizations that Impact Hub Lagos mentored and helped scale immediately came to mind: GeroCare and Advantage Health Africa.
Like many startups, the idea for GeroCare started when Dr. Ebi Ofrey’s parents began to suffer from health challenges. And just like many other people whose family members suffer from long-term illnesses, he was unable to be there with them the entire time. Naturally, he wanted round-the-clock medical care for his parents to ensure that they were cared for when he was unavailable.
Before long, he created his own solution in the form of Gerocare – a way to, as he says, ‘connect families together’.
Gerocare is an organisation that provides affordable, easily accessible, and regular home visits for anyone with health issues aged 50 and above. Since starting up, this initiative has been met with overwhelming positivity, especially for Nigerians in the diaspora whose parents are either in Nigeria or in far flung villages.
In just two short years, Gerocare has established a presence in 35 out of the 36 Nigerian states, with a platform of over 700 doctors.
Much like Gerocare, Advantage Health Africa is also disrupting the healthcare system in Nigeria. The idea for this project was sparked when Dr. Abimbola Adebakin, a registered pharmacist, recognized the overwhelming need for safe, quality access to healthcare. She, along with her partners Olawale Adeniyi and Morakinyo Adejare, started my-medicines.com under the umbrella group Advantage Health Africa.
The wonderful thing about my-medicines.com is that this organisation manages to deliver drugs to patients across all 36 states, directly from pharmacists, and at the most affordable price. There is no middle man, and the pharmacists prescribe only what the patients need. Simple.
As Gerocare and Advantage Health Africa introduced and presented their solutions during the investor meeting, they came to a radical realization: until then, they were so focussed on looking to big healthcare investors, that they forgot to look to their peers. Gerocare had doctors, but no one to deliver the medicines they prescribed, while my-medicines.com had the drugs, but needed patients.
In just a few months, Gerocare signed an agreement with my-medicines.com to deliver all of their pharmaceutical needs.
Collaboration across startups is vital to maintaining and growing the healthcare system in Nigeria. Dr. Ebi Offrey believes that “leveraging members of the community, especially those at hubs like Impact Hub Lagos, who run programs and events for healthcare startups to meet and connect, are really important to establishing partnerships.”
“Health entrepreneurs have to work closely with all players in the larger ecosystem,” adds Emily Sheldon, MPH and Africa Regional Lead. “They need to incorporate the research and trainees coming out of universities, they need to adhere to regulations and form strong working relationships from government, they need to collaborate with or fill the gaps of larger industry players, and they need to speak the languages of both healthcare and business. Dedicated health programs at Impact Hubs in Africa provide a neutral venue to bring together all of these parties and facilitate relationships that can best improve health outcomes throughout the continent.”
Many healthcare startups already know about and target the big investors with large customer bases, but often forget that the process of partnering can often become quite tedious – unlike partnering with other startups that are hungry to grow and succeed, act quicker and are more invested in partnerships. Dr. Abimbola agrees, and stated that “from the beginning, Dr. Abimbola Adebakin has positioned my-medicines.com to be a collaborative company because startups are quicker and faster to respond to the changing healthcare landscape.”
Going forward, both Gerocare and my-medicines.com want to continue their partnerships and hope that more healthcare startups can be brought on, so that they can lead the change in the Nigerian healthcare system.
Written by: Orinayo Ayodele