We at Villgro Africa are most well known for being an incubator and impact investor for emerging businesses in the African health sector. However, our years of experience incubating startups has resulted in an understanding of the African healthcare ecosystem as a whole. We now use that knowledge to provide advisory services to clients who want to enter the market, commercialise products, or establish partnerships.
In our advisory services, we take the expertise our team has gained through our core incubation and use that to provide consulting services. These are usually more short-term engagements, the longest of which has been about six months. As Advisory Lead, I oversee each of our client relationships. Together with a strong team, we manage the project from generating the proposal, engaging with the client, helping them define their problem, coming up with a scope of work, and then implementing the agreed way forward.
The Vayu Global Health Foundation is an organisation that aims to create innovative healthcare solutions in order to increase access to effective healthcare, especially focusing on mothers and babies. They approached us after they had developed a bubble CPAP machine that does not require electricity and a low-flow blender that is used for blending oxygen.
Our initial engagement involved doing a market study for East Africa and we were tasked with looking at an opportunity for uptake in the market. Because of previous connections that had been made between Vayu and hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania, we started by focusing on these two markets. We conducted a market study and, unsurprisingly, the results showed that the need for what Vayu was offering was very high, that the problem was huge, and that facilities were under-equipped. We understood the impact potential of such a device that doesn’t require electricity and how it could impact hospitals, especially in rural areas.
Our engagement then moved into a second phase. We developed a commercialisation strategy for Vayu and built a financial model to project financial performance. We went further and looked at other markets including the Philippines, Brazil, and India. Towards the end of our engagement, we brokered a relationship with a manufacturer in Kilifi, Kenya, called Revital Healthcare. As a result, Revital is actually manufacturing the bubble CPAP device, which is now being exported out of Kenya and used all over the world, not only in low-resource settings, but also in Europe and the US.
The advisory work we did, the strategies we recommended, and the connections we brokered have played a significant role in the use of the Vayu bCPAP around the world. Seeing babies in Nepal, in bunkers in the middle of the war in Ukraine, and other desperate situations, whose lives are being saved because they have access to this machine, we feel really proud alongside the Vayu team. We are delighted to see the many lives saved by this device as a result of effectively connecting the product to its ideal customers.
For more information on our work with Vayu, keep an eye out for our upcoming case study on the details of our engagement.
We are looking forward to getting more clients like Vayu and others that we can support to bring their solutions into the African market and benefit our population. We even hope that some of the incubation companies that we currently support will grow to the point where they can, instead of being supported by us, become paying clients who hire us to provide strategic support or advice. We want to make sure that we increase our reach. We are most experienced in East Africa, which is where many of our projects until now have been based, but we also want to grow engagements across the continent and expand the team that is supporting our advisory clients.