Health startup mPharma secures US$35m in Series D round to expand its business

GHANA – mPharma, a leading health startup in Ghana and one of the most valuable health startups in Africa has secured US$35 million in a Series D round.

The transaction consists of US$30 million in equity and US$5 million in debt from CitiBank, bringing mPharma’s total funding to US$65 million.

JAM Fund, a venture capital firm founded by Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, Unbound, a growth investment firm founded by Shravin Mittal, managing director of Bharti Global Limited (Bharti family investment arm), and Lux Capital, a New York City-based VC firm investing in science and tech ventures, were among the investors in the round.

Northstar, Social Capital, Novastar, and TO Ventures are among the other investors.

Using the additional funding, mPharma wants to expand its community pharmacy by tenfold over the next three years, from the present 200 facilities.

The business also intends to use the funds to expand its data infrastructure, increase its talent pool over the next three years, and support current and future market expansion objectives. It’s also launching a pharmaceutical e-commerce platform.

“We are hiring over 100 engineers to build all our technology in-house and this includes a massive data infrastructure we are creating. We are also investing in other skilled talent like doctors and nurses, professionals that are critical in the work we do,” Gregory Rockson said in a statement.

“​​Bloom, our pharmacy management software, will allow us to build structured population health data sets that enable Mutti pharmacies to provide better care pathways to the community they serve.”

Since its last financing, mPharma has seen continuous growth. MPharma has also engaged on diversification, collaboration, and expansion plans to help the company thrive in recent months.

It bought a 55 percent stake in Uganda’s Vine Pharmacy, which was formerly owned by the Abraaj Group, a few months ago. It also entered Ethiopia in March of last year through its subsidiary, Haltons Limited, which signed a franchise deal with Belayab Pharmaceuticals.

The startup also enjoys strong backing industry experts in the pharmaceutical industry, including Helena Foulkes, former president of CVS, the largest pharmacy retail chain in the U.S.; and Daniel Vasella, ex-CEO and chairman of Novartis; both of whom are members of the board.

The startup’s other investors include U.K.’s development arm CDC Group, Breyer Capital and Golden Palm Investments, a factor which further convinced investors about investing in this round.

Rockson, Daniel Shoukimas, and James Finucane launched MPharma in 2013 with the goal of managing prescription medicine inventories for pharmacies and their suppliers, retail pharmacy operations, and providing market intelligence to hospitals, pharmacies, and patients.

The Ghanaian startup, is establishing a network of community pharmacies across Africa with the goal of becoming the region’s primary healthcare provider.

MPharma intends to expand its community (Mutti) pharmacies across eight African markets in order to provide patients with the first point of care.

Mutti pharmacies are essentially mini-hospitals that provide a variety of services such as medical consultation, diagnostics, and telehealth. All of this is done while improving quality pharmaceutical access and affordability.

As it prepares for the next phase of growth after funding, the company has set out to activate more Mutti pharmacies in order to expand its reach and build out its software infrastructure.

To provide a full range of services, mPharma recently launched an ecommerce portal, the Mutti Online Pharmacy, which allows its users to buy for pharmaceutical products.

They are now just dispensing over-the-counter medications in Ghana but have ambitions to expand to include prescription drugs in the near future. MPharma’s Mutti Online Pharmacy is currently one of a small number of completely digital pharmacies with operations in Africa, including Kenya’s MyDawa.

mPharma also added telehealth services to its portfolio in October of last year, capitalizing on the telemedicine boom that followed the COVID outbreak.

The virtual services are now available to patients in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, where mPharma has a presence. MPharma also has a presence in Gabon, where it has a government contract to establish a pharmaceuticals supply chain infrastructure.

“COVID showed us that the best form of care is local, it is in the community, and the closest thing in communities are pharmacies. We believe that the pharmacy of the future, which is what we are creating, is one built around longitudinal care not episodic care,” said Rockson.

“We are transforming community pharmacies into the foundation of a modern health system in Africa.

“We will have a Mutti pharmacy in every community on the continent, guarantee the availability and safety of medicines for each community and utilize the physical infrastructure of Mutti pharmacies to expand Mutti Doctor (the telemedicine service), creating the largest network of doctor offices and diagnostic centers.”

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