Nigeria’s rapid population growth and low median age are often touted as positive indicators, but infrastructural development has not kept pace.
Healthcare, for example, often works like the electricity grid; established systems fail, then we sigh, settle to “manage it like that” or find personal workarounds. This is merely an inconvenience for those who can afford it, but most people can’t, and it can mean the difference between life and death.
Last year, a childhood friend had to travel four hours from Abuja to Zaria, sometimes twice a week with his two-month old son who had a hole in his heart. Some days, they would arrive at the hospital in the middle of a power cut. Sometimes, the radiologist would be out of office. No parent should have to endure the emotional and financial strain that experience brought.
Thankfully, today the boy is okay, but this is not a special case. Across the country, and indeed in much of Africa — especially in low-income areas, access to radiology, cardiology, and other diagnostic services is poor. Where facilities are available, they are expensive to access; where prices are low, the wait times are unbearable. Healthcare spend is low (only 4.6% of GDP, compared to 11.9% in Sweden), and driven by the private sector (only 1.5% of federal government expenditure), with most consumers paying out of pocket.
The result is that diagnostic centers are clustered around urban areas, where the cost of equipment will be recouped faster. It is not uncommon to see people travel for hours to do basic tests. At the same time, according to WHO, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease will cause 46% of all deaths in Africa by 2020, up from 25% today.
So, when we first met Oluwasoga Oni in March, we paid attention. He saw these issues first hand at his father’s hospital growing up, and today, his company, MDaaS.io, is building a network of tech-enabled diagnostic and primary healthcare facilities for clinically underserved communities in Africa, starting with Nigeria. By introducing software, being smarter about process design, investing heavily in an integrated supply chain, and sharing resources across locations, MDaaS has significantly dropped the cost of setting up and operating each center.
Soga and his team have proven capable operators. The first center went live in Ibadan, Oyo State, ten months ago, reached break-even in month five, and has grown revenue 500% since January. They have learnt a lot from this primitive, and will focus on quickly replicating their success across Nigeria.
At Ventures Platform, we believe bold entrepreneurs will solve some of Africa’s most important problems using technology, and in the process, create value for their shareholders.
In the past four months, we have only gotten more convinced that Soga, Genevieve, Joe, and Opeyemi will succeed and we share their commitment to building a future where African consumers have access to better healthcare, no matter their income level.
That’s why I am excited to announce our $100,000 investment in MDaaS.
P.S: By the way, they recently got accepted into the first Techstars Impact cohort in Austin. :)