Remedial Health, a Nigerian health startup, has announced $1 million in pre-seed funding to help digitise pharmacies and reduce the sale of fake and substandard pharmaceutical products.
This pre-seed round was led by Global Ventures and Ventures Platform, with participation from other firms like Ingressive Capital, Voltron Capital, Angel Syndicate Fund. Angel investors include Olugbenga “GB” Agboola of Flutterwave and Victor Asemota.
According to Remedial Health, part of this funding will be used to extend the start-up’s buy now, pay later (BNPL) offering, so as to reach even more people.
Remedial Health was founded in 2020 by software developer and trained pharmacist, Samuel Okwuada, alongside co-founder Victor Benjamin. It started as a private label business, which was focused solely on importing manufactured products from markets like India, which would then later be sold to pharmacies in Nigeria.
Due to the COVID pandemic, and how it transformed business operations all over the world, Remedial Health started to modify operations as the products it offered weren’t enough to satisfy customers. The company developed a patient medication records system that made it possible for pharmacies to store patients’ medical records digitally. Their system also allows pharmacies to manage their operations, make and track orders — which the start-up says it fulfills within 24 hours.
“For those using the system, because we can basically see their shelves, we are solving their supply issues by ensuring that they’re getting the products when they need them. And so they don’t have to go to the market and waste time by going through 20 to 30 individual distributors to buy all the medicines and supplies that they need.”
Aware that there is a market segment that will take a while to digitise, Remedial has an online shop that allows pharmacy owners not using its system to make orders through an app.
Remedial Health currently covers six states in Nigeria, with plans to expand and enter new African markets before the end of 2022. The start-up has over 300 pharmacies making orders through its app, and several others using WhatsApp. It also extends credit to pharmacies with plans to expand the coverage of this financing service.
Remedial Health, according to its founders, is not just looking to correct the supply chain challenges only, but to do it while bringing primary health care closer to Nigerians. This is an important vision as Nigeria’s health care system has gone from being comparable to the rest of the world in the 70s and early 80s, to one of the least robust in the world. From a severe shortage of health practitioners (there are only about 3.8 doctors per 10,000 people) to gross underfunding (healthcare in Nigeria gets less than 10 per cent of the budget) to poor data collection and record-keeping. Nigeria doesn’t have a comprehensive social register and all of the healthcare industry still relies on analog record keeping/data collection methods, making everything harder to track and causing misdiagnosis.
Another problem is the lack of access to healthcare. A great number of Nigerians, especially those who do not live in the cities, simply do not have access to hospitals or pharmacies. “We have pharmacies that are less than a 15-minute walk from people’s houses, and I feel that is the way to transform healthcare in Africa — by adding diagnostic services, and a doctor to these neighborhood pharmacies — by literally bringing everything to the people, we would transform healthcare in Africa,” said Okwuada.