ILARA HEALTH, the Kenya-based health tech company bringing affordable diagnostics to doctors in Africa, has raised $735,000 in seed funding from a suite of seasoned investors including ShakaVC, a Nairobi-based firm backed by Chinese investors, Chandaria Capital, the venture capital arm Chandaria Industries and Villgro Kenya.
Angel investors in this round include Esther Dyson (23andMe, Yandex, Meetup), Nijhad Jamal (Moja Capital, ex BlackRock, Acumen), Aadil Mamujee (Musha Ventures), Selma Ribica (AfricInvest, Lebara Money, M-Pesa), and Shakir Merali (LGT Impact, ex Abraaj). Several of the new investors will become strategic advisors to the business.
The investment will be used primarily to grow Ilara Health’s peri-urban medical clinic customers in Kenya, and ultimately beyond. It will also allow the company to build a flexible technology platform to manage and protect valuable patient health and clinic financial data.
Ilara Health provides a route to market for new tech-powered diagnostics and medical equipment to reach doctors who need them, supporting the rapid adoption of innovative technologies such as portable ultrasound and blood diagnostics for diabetes.
Emilian Popa, Co-founder and CEO at Ilara Health: “Seventy percent of patients need some form of medical test to inform their treatment, but many doctors across Africa have limited ability to perform diagnostics in their clinics. When a patient needs a test, doctors often refer them to a lab. Given the infrastructure challenges across the region – the time, the money it takes to get anywhere – patients frequently fail to attend and care breaks down.” Amaan Banwait, co-founder and COO added: “We founded Ilara Health to help doctors bring lifesaving diagnostics to the 500 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa who need them most.”
Larry Liu, Partner at ShakaVC: “More than half a billion people across Africa today struggle to access or afford even a simple blood test. Ilara is addressing this problem by distributing vastly more affordable tech-powered diagnostic equipment to primary-care doctors at the front line of healthcare. We are delighted to be part of their journey.”
Esther Dyson, angel investor; executive founder, Wellville: “I invested in Ilara because I have watched CEO Emilian Popa explore the market to find the perfect, sustainable product-market fit. Moreover, the need is great, and the benefits of simple, cost-effective diagnostic tools will extend well beyond the patients and doctors, affecting first Kenya and ultimately the continent at large.”
The African healthcare market is undergoing significant change. In Kenya specifically, there are 10,000 medical facilities, of which a good proportion are reimbursed by the state health insurance the National Health Insurance Fund. However, those reimbursements take time to arrive, and most clinics lack easy access to credit. The equipment provided by Ilara increases both their productivity and diagnostic capabilities, and it also represents tangible assets that can serve as collateral for loans.