mPharma has received $35 million in Series D financing. The Ghanaian health tech startup is creating a network of community pharmacies across Africa.
It seeks to be the region’s principal healthcare provider for its millions of residents.
MPharma plans to grow its community (Mutti) pharmacies across eight markets in Africa to be the first point of care for patients.
Mutti pharmacies are essentially mini-hospitals that provide a variety of services such as medical consultations, diagnostics, and telemedicine.
All of this while boosting the availability and cost of high-quality medications.
After receiving $35 million in a Series D financing, the firm has set out to activate more Mutti pharmacies in order to expand its reach and build out its tech infrastructure as it prepares for the next phase of expansion.
The new capital will be used to enhance the startup’s data infrastructure, triple its talent pool over the next three years, and support expansion goals in current and new markets, according to mPharma co-founder and CEO Gregory Rockson.
It’s also launching a pharmaceutical e-commerce portal.
Participants in the round include JAM Fund, a venture capital firm founded by Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen; Unbound, a growth investment firm by Shravin Mittal, managing director of Bharti Global limited (Bharti family investment arm); and Lux Capital, a New York-based VC firm investing in science and tech ventures. Other investors include Northstar, Social Capital, Novastar, and TO Ventures.
MPharma was originally founded in 2013 by Rockson, Daniel Shoukimas, and James Finucane with the goal of managing prescription medicine inventories for pharmacies and their suppliers, retail pharmacy operations, and providing market intelligence to hospitals, pharmacies, and patients.
The business added telehealth services to its portfolio in October of last year, capitalizing on the telemedicine boom that followed the COVID outbreak.
The virtual services are now available to patients in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, where mPharma has a presence.
MPharma also has a presence in Gabon, where it has a government contract to establish a pharmaceuticals supply chain infrastructure.
Startups like mPharma are bridging healthcare gaps by bringing important services closer to communities through pharmacies and community health checks, among other channels.
According to World Health Organization data, countries across Sub-Saharan Africa have an average of 0.23 doctors per 10,000 people, compared to an average of 84.2 doctors in some of the world’s most developed countries.
Aside from a low doctor-to-patient ratio, healthcare infrastructure is also severely lacking.
“COVID demonstrated that the best kind of care is local, in the community, and pharmacies are the closest thing in communities.”
“We believe that the pharmacy of the future, which is what we’re building, will be based on long-term treatment rather than episodic care,” Rockson said.
“In Africa, we’re transforming community pharmacies into the bedrock of a modern health system.”
“We will have a Mutti pharmacy in every community on the continent, ensuring the availability and safety of medicines for each community, and leveraging the physical infrastructure of Mutti pharmacies to expand Mutti Doctor (the telemedicine service), resulting in the continent’s largest network of doctor offices and diagnostic centers.”
To provide a full range of services, mPharma launched an e-commerce portal a few weeks ago called the Mutti Online Pharmacy, which allows its members to buy pharmaceutical products.
They are now just dispensing over-the-counter medications in Ghana, but have ambitions to expand to include prescription drugs in the near future.
MPharma’s Mutti Online Pharmacy is currently one of a small number of completely digital pharmacies with operations in Africa, including Kenya’s MyDawa.
MPharma has also engaged in diversification, collaboration, and expansion plans to help the company thrive in recent months.
It bought a 55 percent stake in Uganda’s Vine Pharmacy, which was formerly owned by the Abraaj Group, a few months ago. It also entered Ethiopia in March of last year through its subsidiary, Haltons, by negotiating a franchise deal with Belayab Pharmaceuticals.
Helena Foulkes, former president of CVS, the largest drugstore retail chain in the United States, and Daniel Vasella, ex-CEO and chairman of Novartis, are both members of MPharma’s board of directors.
Other investors include CDC Group, Breyer Capital, and Golden Palm Investments, all of which are based in the United Kingdom.