10 African Startups in the Health Sector You Should Watch Out For

‍The health sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, driven by rapid urbanization, an aging population, and a growing middle class.

In Africa, the number of people aged 60 or older is expected to double from 123 million today to 260 million by 2050. The continent also has some of the highest rates of chronic disease in the world.

In this article, we take a look at 10 African startups in the health sector that you should watch out for. These innovative start-ups are addressing various needs within the healthcare industry through technology and innovation, making them not only interesting case studies but also ventures that have the potential to have a massive impact on society as a whole.

O7 Therapy

O7 Therapy is a digital health startup that has developed a specialized protocol for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients. The protocol is designed to treat the root cause of the disease. It uses a combination of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and targeted biophotonic light therapy to treat the root cause of the disease, unlike other treatment options that are only focused on symptom management.

O7 Therapy was founded by Dr. Paul Carter and Dr. Philip Lewis in 2017. They have offices in London and Johannesburg. The team at O7 consists of over 50 engineers, designers, and scientists. They are currently raising funds through their ICO.


mPharma is a pharmaceutical e-commerce platform that connects patients with doctors and pharmacies in their vicinity. They aim to bridge the gap between patients in remote areas and local medical practitioners by providing them with a platform to order medical supplies and seek medical advice through a smartphone app.

The platform is designed with a simple user-interface and a language-translator that facilitates communication between the patient and the medical professional. mPharma was founded in 2016 by Marc-André Blanche, a German pharmacist, and Michel Euge, a Belgian entrepreneur. They have offices in Paris and Berlin. mPharma has raised $1.3 million in a seed round of financing led by Newfund and Sistema Biomedical Ventures.


MedAfrica is an online medical store that sells a range of healthcare products in Africa, including diagnostic equipment, medical supplies and home healthcare products. These products are purchased from manufacturers around the world and are resold to customers in Africa at a lower cost.

MedAfrica was founded in 2015 by Andre J.A. Van Den Bosch, who is the CEO. The store is headquartered in The Netherlands and serves customers across Africa through a network of resellers in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Ghana. The company has raised $3 million in equity financing from Fonds 1818 and the Dutch Investment Fund for Developing Countries (SIDCO).

Africa Health Holdings

Africa Health Holdings (AH) is a technology-enabled healthcare services provider that delivers healthcare services to Sub-Saharan Africa. AH offers services like telemedicine, e-consultation, remote patient monitoring, and e-commerce health products.

The company was founded in 2008 by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. AH has offices in Lagos, Abuja, London, and New York. The company has raised approximately $5 million in funding from companies such as Blue Shadow Ventures and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).


54gene is a DNA testing platform that helps users understand their DNA, genetic health risks, and ancestry. The platform was designed with an easily navigable user interface that provides users with their test results and useful health insights in a matter of minutes.

54gene was founded in 2018 by Dr. Charles van den Broeke and Max Nieuwland. The company has offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. 54gene has raised $1.1 million in equity financing from Dutch Investments Funds for Developing Countries (SIDCO) and private investors.

Ilara Health

Ilara Health is an online pharmacy that provides a wide range of medicines at an affordable price. The pharmacy carries both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications and has partnered with many pharmaceutical companies to bring down the cost of medicines.

Ilara Health was founded in 2017 by Dr. Mohit Bhatia and has offices in Bangalore, India. Ilara Health has raised $10 million in equity financing from investors such as Reliance Capital, Endure Capital, and IDG Ventures.

Helium Health

Helium Health is an online marketplace for health insurance in Sub-Saharan Africa. The platform enables customers to purchase health insurance and provides detailed information on the policy, such as coverage, exclusions, and inclusions. Helium Health was designed with the goal of making health insurance policies more accessible to the average African.

Helium Health was founded in 2018 by Dr. Isaac Awai and Ben Silverman. The company has offices in Nairobi, Kenya. Helium Health has raised $3 million in equity financing from investors such as Endure Capital, Lufa Ventures, and Capital Peak Partners.

Reliance HMO

Reliance HMO is a health benefits company that offers health insurance plans to individuals and groups across Sub-Saharan Africa. The company was founded in 2018 by Dr. Arvind Parthasarathi.

It has offices in London and Mumbai. Reliance HMO has raised $500,000 in equity financing from investors such as Khosla Ventures, IDG Ventures and Endure Capital.


Dabadoc is a healthcare information management system. The platform was designed with a simple user interface and is compatible with most operating systems. Dabadoc was created to make information management in the healthcare sector easier and less time-consuming.

Dabadoc was founded in 2016 by Alex Ziles. The company has offices in Lausanne, Switzerland. Dabadoc has received funding from the Swiss Government and private investors.


DrugStoc is a drug discovery and development company that uses blockchain technology to streamline the drug discovery process. The platform is designed to connect researchers, investors, and patients by creating a virtual ecosystem that is accessible to everyone.

DrugStoc was founded in 2016 by Dr. Rudi Parikh. The company has offices in Philadelphia and Mumbai. DrugStoc has received funding from investors such as Khosla Ventures, Endure Capital, and IDG Ventures.

Final words

If the above article has managed to pique your interest in African startups in the health sector, then you might also be interested in Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and fintech.

As we have seen, there are many exciting startups across Africa that are focusing on these trending industries. If you are interested in learning more about exciting African startups, we recommend that you check out our Startup section.

Why Kenya’s KUNE Food Startup Failed

Why Kenya’s KUNE Food Startup Failed

African startups founded by whites may be winning the funding and PR game, but the local market (which these founders are dimly aware of) delivers the final judgment.

As for Kune Food, the markets have spoken. The startup did not do its homework. Kune Food started off on the wrong foot when its founder tried to come up with a false narrative that he launched the startup after failing to get affordable ready-to-eat meals in Nairobi. A blatant lie that immediately backfired on social media. Kune Food later apologized but the damage was done.

To me, if the problem statement was based on a lie, then Kune Food was a dead startup before it even launched. The only reason it even managed to go that far is because of a white founder. The startup overlooked a lot of market realities.

Starting with the food pricing; If you ask salaried guys in Nairobi or Dar es Salaam whether they are willing to spend $3 per meal, these are common replies you would get:

“Bro, spending $3 on a single meal is a once-in-a-while thing for the majority of us”

“If you are looking for repeat business, try to innovate something around Mihogo or Mandazi”

“Three dollars on one meal? That’s two meals at Mama Aisha’s eatery”

You may argue that the price was not an issue, which may be true. After all, Kune Food sold more than 55,000 meals and acquired more than 6,000 individual customers and 100 corporate customers. So the price was not an issue, right?

My contention is that it is easy to be fooled by first-time orders coming in droves based on the marketing hype you have done. But as soon as people start seeing the hole you are digging into their personal finances with that $3 per meal, they go back to Mama Aisha. You are easy to replace.

Another major challenge that led to their demise is a logistics issue. A B2C startup with a delivery component in Africa is destined to fail. It is not about fancy slogans with nice apps and a great e-commerce website, the real deal is logistics. Maybe it works in South Africa but in other places, the cost of running such a business is too high.

All of these of course could have been addressed if Kune Food did their homework. Not everything that looks like a business is a business. More importantly, people do not use a tech-based business for the sake of “tech”. So nice apps and websites do not work if you don’t bring new value from what people are already getting.

The lesson from Kune Food’s collapse is that we should not do our ROI and feasibility studies while seated in fancy hotels. Go and talk to real people down the street. They have the answers. Avoid “peer-reviewed” market research papers. Talk to people.

Another lesson: be grateful your business is taking longer to grow. You can only break your business by trying to move things too fast. Kune Food was in a hurry to nowhere, the hiring spree was crazy, and the marketing hype was too flashy. It is always wise to take things slow.

Markets don’t care how many rounds of funding you have nailed. You may have that privilege to easily access funds but unless you have a solution people want, your days are numbered. Business is hard.