Innovator Spotlight: clinicPesa

An Interview with Eng. Chrispinus Onyancha, Founder and CEO of clinicPesa.

Tell us about your innovation. What is the problem? What solution are you offering? 

clinicPesa is a healthcare financing platform that targets the uninsured and expectant mothers. We partner with healthcare centers where patients are able to pay through our platform and receive care. We're continuously looking at ways of how we can reduce the cost of treatment as clinicPesa. What we're doing currently is empowerment, but when you look at affordability, there is an aspect of empowering to afford as well as the aspect of cost reduction. So we are working tirelessly to bring in new strategies that will see the deduction in treatment costs for customers as well as empowering people to save more.

What is a recent example of progress? What are you celebrating?

As clinicPesa, we have a number of things to celebrate. First of all, we recently received our licenses from the Bank of Uganda, which allows us to fully operationalise clinicPesa’s services. We also recently launched on a wide scale with MTN to be able to scale our services to reach the next 1.4 million customers. These are all wins for clinicPesa and we believe that this is going to give us good access to the market so that we're able to do a bigger conversion as compared to where we are today. We strongly believe in growing the company in a phase-by-phase manner, so we are excited to celebrate going to this next phase. 

What are the primary challenges you’re currently facing? 

Our challenges are the typical ones that different startups face. For example, the fundraising process is typically very slow. Even if you have good traction, if investors are not in the phase of doing active capital deployment, then you’re going to find a bit of a challenge there. And then sometimes there is a mismatch between startups and investors, whether it’s a sector mismatch, a lack of alignment on timing, or a difference between the amount they are ready to offer and the amount the startup needs. They might be offering either a very big ticket that is more than what you're looking for, or they're doing a very small ticket that is less than what you need. Also, the whole aspect of aggregating investors is a whole journey on its own when the business has to continuously be pushed. Those are challenges that every business would, of course, see from day to day.

Over the course of developing your innovation, what is something you have learned that might help other innovators?

Continue learning; never stop learning. People may say, “Make no mistakes,” but I would say, yes, try to avoid mistakes, but make mistakes when you have the money to correct those mistakes, because mistakes are expensive. For us, we don’t say “Make mistakes,” but we say proceed with caution and take calculated risks to ensure that between now and then you are good operational books. If you don't have runway, however promising the business is, you can end up in challenges.

How has Villgro impacted your growth? 

When you look at growth, for example, Villgro was the first institutional investor to invest in clinicPesa. And it's very important that you have an institutional investor because to raise money, sometimes it doesn’t matter how good the business is, when you don’t have an institutional investor, you’re going to face a lot of investor challenges in the investment journey. So Villgro was the first one who actually believed in us and gave us that hard earned money (it’s not a grant) that needs a return on investment.  

Villgro has also supported us to do the validation of the solution in the market before the uptake of clinicPesa started happening. That was way back in 2018. So it's been a journey, and I would say a big thank you. They still sit on our board, which means they continuously contribute to steering the organization in the right direction, furthering our growth, and celebrating our big wins.