Villgro Kenya Awards $150K to 12 Startups Fighting COVID-19 in Africa

Villgro Kenya has awarded $150K in grants to 12 innovative startups from East Africa with technologies and innovations that could help in testing, monitoring, and managing aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following the call for local innovations to fight the novel coronavirus, there has been a wave of new inventions emerging from the East African ecosystem. We have seen an array of solutions ranging from 3D printed PPE, rapid testing kits, locally manufactured ventilators, emergency response platforms, and a rise in the uptake of telemedicine.

The companies selected for funding and technical assistance include:

  1. Lishe Living – Medical Nutrition Platform
  2. Health-E-Net – Telemedicine platform
  3. Enzi Health – Hail-a-clinic
  4. Flare – Emergency response
  5. Neopenda Uganda – remote patient monitoring device
  6. Maisha Technologies Ethiopia – 3D printing face shields
  7. Simbona Africa – UVC Light treatment
  8. Kijenzi – 3D printing of PPEs
  9.  Medixus – a peer learning platform for doctors.

Funding will also go to three entities locally manufacturing ventilators, including: 

  1. The Dedan Kimathi University of Technology
  2. Ventilators Africa
  3. Samuel Kairu — a local manufacturer using readily available mechanical materials to manufacture low-cost ventilators.

The grant will go towards product development, scaling up production to meet local and regional demand, and improving systems to ensure more people get access to quality and affordable healthcare during the pandemic. This is in line with Villgro Kenya’s goal to transform product and process innovations into viable and scalable businesses that impact those at the base of the pyramid (BoP).

Speaking on the grant awards, Villgro Kenya CEO, Dr. Robert Karanja said, “Innovations like these show the true resilience and grit communities have to fight health challenges in the African continent. We have come out to support these solutions because we believe they will have the greatest impact on the fight against coronavirus in Africa.”

He further added that medical diagnostics and devices are very critical in the management of the disease, which is able to significantly reduce the cost of treatment and prevent further infections of various diseases. The coronavirus has shown the world the need for more investment in this area. 

“As Villgro Kenya we continue to champion for medical devices and diagnostics designed for local African markets. We need a sustainable health system geared towards point of care diagnostics to reduce the need for labs to perform medical tests. This will go a long way in reducing the workload of frontline workers and bringing down the cost of healthcare.” Dr. Karanja added.

The Villgro Kenya team will work closely with the innovators to ensure their products and services support frontline workers and widen the options to quality treatment while encouraging social distancing in low-income communities.