Kenyan healthtech startup gets investment from MIT venture fund
Access Afya is among three startups to receive the first investment by MIT's Solve Innovation Future.
Access Afya, a health technology (healthtech) firm that provides digitized and affordable healthcare solutions for the urban poor in Kenya, has been selected to receive the first-ever investments to be made by Solve Innovation Future (SIF), the philanthropic venture vehicle of MIT Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.
Launched in 2019, SIF uses debt, equity, and alternative structures to invest in entrepreneurs driving social and environmental impact. Also called Solver teams, the entrepreneurs are selected annually through Solve’s open innovation Global Challenges. The MIT venture fund provides funding to the select entrepreneurs in amounts ranging from $75,000-$250,000.
Earlier this month, Access Afya, led by Founder and CEO, Melissa Menke, was selected by MIT Solve, alongside a Mexican e-learning and parenting app, called Kinedu, and an American e-commerce platform for unused fabric, called Queen of Raw. According to Disrupt Africa, an online media platform providing information on the tech startup ecosystem, Access Afya raised $90,000 from MIT Solve as part of a $900,000 bridge financing round.
Founded in 2012, Access Afya says it deploys the latest health technologies to make healthcare convenient and affordable for residents of Nairobi's slums through a chain of micro-clinics, diagnostic centres, and pharmacies. Through its Akiba ya Roho programme, trained community members conduct mass non-communicable disease (NCD) screenings in slums using an intuitive mobile app. The app guides users through a series of simple health questions, and community members take basic measurements like blood sugar and pressure. People with high risk as identified by their health scores are referred to Access Afya micro-clinics, where clinical officers provide care and conduct continuous follow-ups.
The firm, which currently has 17 facilities, says it has served 175,316 people and recording a 98 per cent recovery rate. As part of Access Afya’s COVID-19 response, the startup provides useful content and services on the infectious disease to the East African communities.
“When we first launched Solve Innovation Future, the world was a very different place,” said Casey van der Stricht, Principal at SIF. “Now more than ever, startups – especially those prioritizing social impact – need risk-tolerant and flexible investment capital to scale. Solve is proud to invest in these incredible Solver teams and we look forward to collaborating with other organizations and individuals to unlock much-needed capital for global early-stage social ventures.”
The SIF first three innovative Solver teams were featured during a Virtual Solve showcase at MIT on May 12. During the event, Solver teams connected with members of the Solve community to build robust partnerships with diverse private, public, and nonprofit leaders to help scale their solutions.
As a marketplace for social impact innovation, MIT Solve says its mission is to solve the world’s challenges by bringing together tech-based social entrepreneurs around the world to help them drive lasting, transformational impact.
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