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Ilara Health Secures $4.2M Pre-series A to Digitise Fragmented Primary Healthcare in Africa

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Ilara Health, the healthtech company digitising and consolidating  highly fragmented primary care in Kenya, has announced the close of a $4.2M pre-series A round of equity and debt. Led by DOB Equity, the round also sees follow-on equity investment from AAIC INVESTMENT, Angaza Capital, Black Pearl Investments, Perivoli Innovations, as well  as debt investment from Alphamundi and Kiva Capital.

New to the round are Philips Foundation and Boehringer Ingelheim. The new partners are strategic healthcare investors that bring their deep experience working with and investing in companies in the global healthcare industry.

Ilara Health will use the latest capital injection to scale its tech-enabled primary care model across Kenya before expanding to other regions. With this latest funding, the company’s total investment to date reaches $11.7M, encompassing various funding rounds, such as a $3.75M seed round in 2020, along with multiple grants, including two grants totaling $1.6M from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Founded in 2019 by Emilian Popa, Maximilian Mancini and Sameer Afzal Farooqi, Ilara Health launched to deliver affordable and accessible quality healthcare in the peri-urban areas of Kenya.

The company began by addressing the gap in diagnostics impacting primary healthcare centres in the region due to significant disparities in availability and quality testing. Ilara Health’s initial model offered revenue-generating diagnostic assets, which enabled clinics to instantly scale their businesses, whilst also providing flexible repayment plans, and also the training required to test patients.

The company has since expanded to digitising the entire end-to-end operations, leveraging data to enhance its infrastructural business model. This includes helping clinics electronically manage their patient base and becoming their one-stop shop for diagnostic tools, consumables, and pharmaceuticals.

The investment will facilitate Ilara Health’s focus for the next 12 months which is to achieve significant topline growth, keep growing the already large partner clinics network, and incorporate the next phase of growth into its model, which includes the launch of the employee health services through B2B health & occupational services, initially in select locations and later throughout the country.

This is to further strengthen the Ilara Health branded clinics and achieve revenue growth, proving the path to profitability as the operating base remains broadly consistent.

The healthtech company also intends to drive internal efficiencies in operations and embark on a fundraising round of both equity and debt, to support the working capital investments fueling the growth goals.

There will also be a meaningful investment in technology and the proprietary Practice Management Software (PMS) to prove the longer-term data-driven potential of our business model.

Live data from the PMS will enable the start-up to analyse the performance of primary care providers to provide follow-on asset lending and working capital of between $10,000 to $15,000 for: clinic rejuvenations, staff training, provision of diagnostic equipment and a ‘powered by Ilara Health’ co-branding opportunity.

The company presently has 8 clinics covered by these follow-on investments and co-branding, with plans to expand to 50 by the end of the year.

Speaking on the round, Emilian Popa, CEO and Co-founder of Ilara Health says “Ilara Health came about by one common goal; to improve the quality of healthcare for Africans. We passionately believe healthcare should be affordable and accessible to all and I’m therefore proud of the measurable impact we have achieved in such a short space of time.

“There’s still so much more to be done, which is why we are thrilled to be joined by prominent global investors who share our core vision for Kenya and ultimately all of Africa. This fundraise will build on our continued growth and we look forward to driving standardised quality healthcare on the continent.”

Kenya has ~10,000 privately owned primary care facilities and a further ~7,000 that are publicly owned. Ilara Health’s growth momentum has so far seen it partner with over 3,000 of these clinics to deliver better healthcare across 42 Kenyan counties, which in turn serve over 5 million patients each year.

Margot Cooijmans, Director of Philips Foundation Impact Investments said, “Supporting Ilara Health reflects Philips Foundation’s effort to improve healthcare access through innovation, aligning with our goal to make quality healthcare available for all. This investment is a practical step towards bridging the healthcare gap, focusing on solutions that can be implemented in communities that need them the most.”

Bahaa Eddine Sarroukh, Impact Investment Lead at Philips Foundation said, “Ilara Health represents a significant stride forward in healthcare innovation, blending technology and finance in a manner that is both pioneering and profoundly impactful.

“Their approach goes beyond mere access; it’s about empowering the healthcare providers at the grassroots level with the tools and financial models they need to thrive. This blend is not just unique—it’s a critical enabler for expanding quality healthcare to those who need it most, setting a new standard for what’s possible in healthcare delivery across Africa.”

Hayo Afman, Managing Director at DOB Equity said, “Having supported Ilara Health and its founders since the beginning, we are enthusiastic about the progress and the notable improvement of patient outcomes thus far. We look forward to collaborating with our new partners to support the team in redefining the standard of medical care in Africa.”

Christian Bausch, at Boehringer Ingelheim said, “Ilara Health’s plan to decentralise financing for primary care clinics captured our hearts. We value companies and entrepreneurs that create innovative solutions that push the envelope and are proud to support Ilara Health as they address an unmet demand of clinics in Kenya and Sub Saharan Africa.”

Hiroki Ishida, Director at AAIC Partners Africa said, “Primary care represents one of the most challenging areas for business model development. Nevertheless, it serves as the foundation of the healthcare sector. As a healthcare-focused fund in Africa, I have confidence in the team’s capabilities, and I anticipate their role as innovators on this continent.”

Ilara Health intends to use its innovative tech infrastructure to bridge the estimated $66 billion financing gap and outdated processes affecting healthcare delivery across the African continent as a whole.


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ALX Welcomes 30,000 New AiCE Learners Across Africa

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ALX Africa, the innovative tech career accelerator, is thrilled to announce the enrollment of 30,000 new learners across Africa into its Artificial Intelligence Career Essentials (AiCE) programme.

This significant milestone underscores ALX’s commitment to fostering a new generation of leaders across Africa, equipped with innovative skills in AI technology.

In his welcome address, the host, Gavin Peter, VP, of Community and Culture at ALX, emphasized the essence of the event, termed “Karibu” which means ‘Welcome’ in Swahili, saying, “It is our usual ritual to start our ALX courses. We want our learners to feel welcome and part of the family.

“ALX is a community where we all belong and meet each other. We want to upskill young Africans and prepare them to launch so that they can grow their careers and make an impact.”

The AiCE programme offered by ALX introduces participants to Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools essential to their professional practice. For six weeks, learners will be equipped with knowledge of the rapid advancement of AI and its increasing relevance across various industries.

Through this course, ALX takes on the responsibility of equipping African talents with the necessary expertise to harness the potential available with Artificial Intelligence.

Out of the 30,000 learners onboarded across Africa from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya, over 5,000 came from Nigeria. This significant feat is a testament to the dedication and resilience shown by ALX Nigeria.

Also, a strong and vibrant community, impactful engagements, and evidential testimonials of personal and professional growth are only a few of the many identifiers of this success.

Commenting on this significant achievement, Ruby Igwe, the ALX Country General Manager, Ruby Igwe, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “We are immensely proud to welcome 30,000 new learners to our AI programme. This milestone reflects our dedication to providing accessible, world-class education that empowers individuals to shape the future of Africa.

“Through our AI Career Essentials programme, we aim to cultivate a diverse community of innovators who will drive technological advancement and economic growth across the continent.”

She further stated, “ALX is not just a learning platform; it’s a community where learners come together to grow, inspire, and support one another. As we extend our heartfelt “Karibu” to our new learners, we are excited to witness the impact they will make as they harness the power of Artificial Intelligence to drive innovation and change across Africa.”

“Karibu to all our new AiCE learners! As they embark on this exciting adventure together, the possibilities are just limitless,” remarked Igwe.

ALX remains dedicated to expanding access to transformative education and empowering African talents to lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As the continent continues to embrace technological innovation, ALX stands as a beacon of hope, guiding learners toward a future filled with endless possibilities.


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12 African Startups Draw Full House as Techstars Hosts Demo Day in Lagos

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Techstars, the most active startup investor in Africa, held its second pan-African Demo Day in partnership with Lagos-based innovation program, ARM Labs.

The ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator Demo Day was held on 20th February at Balmoral Convention Center, Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos.

The event featured presentations from Techstars’ stellar second cohort from across the continent, marking the end of an immersive three-month accelerator program.

The startups presented to Techstars’ vast network of investors, mentors, senior operators, and ecosystem leaders, unveiling achievements and future plans whilst vying for strategic partnerships and commercial collaboration.

In addition to the startups’ presentations, the event featured a lively panel discussion with key figures in the African tech and Venture Capital ecosystems, exploring the state of VC funding and innovation in Africa.

Panellists included Olumide Soyombo, Partner at Voltron Capital; Biola Alabi, Partner at Acasia Ventures; and Ovo Emorhokpor, Founding Partner at Beta.Ventures. The event also drew the attention of more than 480 industry leaders and investors, including Idris Bello, Founding Partner at LoftyInc Capital; Tosin Faniro-Dada, Partner at Breega; Eloho Omame, Partner at TLCom Capital, Victor Sada, Head of Ventures & M&A at Interswitch; Bode Abifarin, Ex-Chief Operating Officer at Flutterwave; and Olusegun Adeniyi, Chief Digital Officer at Wema Bank, who were in attendance. An additional 2,500 viewers joined online via Youtube and Linkedin.

The ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator second cohort, chosen from over a thousand applicants across Africa included 24Seven, Beauty Hut, Eight Medical, GetEquity, JumpnPass, One Plan, PBR Life Sciences, PressOne Africa, Rana, Surge Africa, Swoove and Veend.

Over the past 13 weeks, along with the $120,000 each in investment, the startups received comprehensive training and mentorship from leading industry experts in the form of workshops on Go-to-markets Strategies, Financial Modelling, Customer Acquisition, Investment Readiness, People and Leadership, Legal and Governance, and Product Management.

Additionally the select startups gained access to more than 300 perks, valued at over $4 million in savings, and will benefit from lifetime access to the Techstars worldwide network.

In her Demo Day welcome address, Oyin Solebo, Managing Director of ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator, stated, “At Techstars, we are committed to empowering entrepreneurs through our accelerators, venture funds, and network of investors, corporates, and mentors across various cities.

“We firmly believe that entrepreneurs are the driving force behind a better future for all, and our mandate is to ensure they succeed. As the world’s most active pre-seed investor, we are also proud to have become the most active startup investor in Africa.

“Teaming up with ARM, we’ve developed a program aimed at showcasing the remarkable innovation and talent on the continent. We’re excited about the 12 companies we’ve backed, each leveraging technology, data, and intelligence to serve a population growing in size, youth, income and digital access”.

The engaging event schedule also featured a keynote address by Adetayo Bamiduro, Co-founder of Max.ng, the first African startup selected for a Techstars program.

Adetayo emphasised the profound impact Techstars has had on his startup since selection in 2015, and also shared meaningful insights on the startup’s learnings, milestones and the growth opportunity that Africa offers.

Kenise Hill, U.S. Consulate Deputy Political and Economic Chief, also gave an address, highlighting the U.S’s commitment to trade with Africa, and their areas of focus – technology, healthcare, renewable energy and food security.

In the closing address by Sadiq Mohammed, Deputy Group CEO of ARM Holding Company, disclosed, “We are delighted to have partnered in this innovative program where our aim was to expand our horizons and improve our processes, introduce a new asset class to clients, and contribute to the ecosystem growth. We’re thrilled with how these objectives are being met based on the program’s success and the inherent impact of the selected startups.

Despite the market and challenging macroeconomic climate, we maintain a positive outlook knowing fully well that the best market-creating innovations thrive best when value-chains and markets are restructured. We believe this cohort is well-positioned for success.”

Oluwadunni Fanibe, Program Manager at ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator also commented on the progress attained by the founders over the past weeks.

She stated “Throughout the program, the cohort demonstrated genuine enthusiasm, passion and dedication, qualities highly valued by investors. They’ve mastered articulating and executing their business models, also honing their pitching skills along the way. The program has boosted their capabilities, propelling them into the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey and we wish them continued success.”

As founders showcased the product-market fit of their startups, track record and growth opportunity, it highlighted the ingenuity and opportunities abound in the African market. The event now sets the stage for follow-on investment and innovation in the months ahead for the cohort.


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SHELT Global Unveils Security Operations Center, Training Academy

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SHELT Global Limited recently held a cocktail party at its new headquarters in Nigeria to unveil their upgraded Security Operations Center and the SHELT Training Academy.

Mr. Youssef Abillama, Managing Partner (3rd right) Mr. Walid Bou Abssi, Country Manager of SHELT Cyber Immune Limited (2nd right), in company of business leaders and guests at the unveiling of SHELT Global Limited SOC and training academy in Lagos on February 16, 2024

Mr. Youssef Abillama, Managing Partner (3rd right) Mr. Walid Bou Abssi, Country Manager of SHELT Cyber Immune Limited (2nd right), in company of business leaders and guests at the unveiling of SHELT Global Limited SOC and training academy in Lagos on February 16, 2024

SHELT has been operating in Nigeria across Lagos and Abuja for six years, serving the country’s leading financial, telecom, and government institutions in their cybersecurity needs.

This headquarters relocation consolidates the determination of SHELT in investing in Nigeria’s economy and in growing cybersecurity talent for the country.

The party was attended by SHELT’s clients and partners, and the guests were taken on a tour of the newly opened premises.

The new SHELT Headquarters boasts a state-of-the-art 24/7 SOC to support the needs of the company’s clients all over Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

SHELT also revealed its Training Academy where young talents and experienced cybersecurity professionals looking to enhance their cybersecurity skills can enroll and benefit from the knowledge and experience of the company’s experts.

SHELT Training Academy will be issuing certifications to students in coordination with international cybersecurity bodies and affiliations.

Mr. Youssef Abillama, Managing Partner of SHELT Global Limited, said: “Our Nigeria offices are quickly turning into the company’s flagship, and we believe the country is playing its part as a role model to the rest of Africa when it comes to cybersecurity regulations.

“Today, with the launch of this new headquarters and the opening of our Training Academy, we can give back to the community that welcomed us from the start.”

Mr. Walid Bou Abssi, Country Manager of SHELT Cyber Immune Limited, said: “I see so many opportunities ahead of us in the future with the launch of the Academy. We hear of so many people wanting to enter the field of cybersecurity and we will be working hard to support the youth and cybersecurity professionals in their careers.”


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