07 innovative projects join the Next Health Accelerator for its 3rd cohort

Following the call for applications launched on November 18, and after a rigorous selection process, 7 new startups have joined the Next Health Accelerator (NHA) program for its 3rd cohort. They stand out for their innovation and their ambitious vision to revolutionize the health sector in Africa by integrating technological solutions adapted to the realities of the continent.

Next Health Accelerator (NHA) in a few words

Intrepid Entrepreneurs’ accelerator program, Next Health Accelerator (NHA) , has been in existence since 2021 to accompany and support startups innovating in the field of health with a particular focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Selfcare. Since its inception, the program has supported about 20 startups from different African countries and founded or co-founded by women.

Each of the selected startups benefits from a 6-month online program focused on opportunity assessment, integration of solutions into existing value chains, and regional expansion. In addition to these elements, entrepreneurs have access to tailored coaching and mentoring, a capital investment of up to $20,000 USD, and access to an extensive network of partners.

NHA’s 2023 cohort hosts 14 entrepreneurs representing 6 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, South Africa, Uganda, DRC). Discover their exceptional solutions here:

  • Alliance Pharma (Burkina Faso) is a mobile application that allows a pharmacy to contact one or more other pharmacies with a single click to search and find a health product for a patient in need.
  • LukaPharma (Democratic Republic of Congo) is a mobile application that facilitates access to quality medicines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Users can check prices and availability of their medicines in the nearest pharmacies in less than 3 minutes.
  • Zinacare (South Africa) is a South African company that provides home healthcare services. From lab tests to virtual consultations, Zinacare enables patients to access convenient, affordable, and reliable essential health services.
  • ELLES (Benin) is a mobile application designed to meet the specific health needs of African girls and women. It provides reliable sexual and reproductive health information and services.
  • Ekose Rx (Cameroon) is an online pharmacy dedicated to Francophone Africa. It provides patients and health care providers with access to quality medicines at affordable prices.
  • MobiKlinik (Uganda) develops digital tools that enable basic health care training, health care delivery and access to affordable health services in Africa.
  • Laafi Concepts SAS (Burkina Faso) focuses on the development, manufacturing and delivery of digital solutions for various sectors. It particularly specializes in monitoring equipment for pharmaceuticals and other temperature sensitive products.

We are confident that these startups will make significant progress in the coming months and look forward to continuing to work with the entrepreneurial community to help drive growth and innovation.

If you are interested in updates and results from the program feel free to follow us on our social networks and website.

[Video] What is Next Health Accelerator ?

Hear about the Next Health Accelerator (NHA) from the co-founder, acceleration manager, an international mentor, a partner investor and an accelerated startup in their own words. This video, in English and French, provides a glimpse into the who, what, where, and why of Next Health Accelerator. If you’re thinking of applying, please watch!

We open recruitment for the next NHA cohort in November 2021! 

Research Paper: Reusable Pads Industry in Africa

Africa counts around 350 million girls and women of reproductive age who live with less than $1.90 a day. For women and girls in that population, period poverty is still a significant issue, with comprehensive daily implications. They are unable to afford costly menstrual hygiene products leading to unhealthy period management practices, such as use of rags, feathers, and leaves. They also face strong cultural stigmas and biases relating to menses, which may even result in social exclusion.

Over the past decades, many stakeholders have worked to provide practical solutions to this situation, including governments, international organizations (UNFPA, Unicef, UNHCR, etc.), Non-Governmental Organizations (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Buffett Foundation, etc.), and private companies. Among the large array of privileged solutions, reusable pads appear as a remarkable innovation, representing a healthy and affordable alternative for the millions of women who cannot afford the more traditional disposable sanitary products.

The theme of reusable pads has been widely covered over the past years, through academic research papers, press articles, reports, and analyses. However, these endeavors have mostly focused on the social impact potential of the reusable pads. In contrast, Next Health Accelerator and Noru Capital have elected to approach the topic through business-oriented lenses, broadening the scope and understanding of the subject. As a result, the current research paper intends to complement the existing knowledge body with a business analysis, shedding new light to a widely discussed topic, and providing novel data to analyze, to the ecosystem of stakeholders.

This paper is subdivided into three chapters, each focusing on a specific facet of the reusable pads business in Africa. The first chapter emphases on market dynamics (for both disposable and reusable products) and covers sanitary pads market sizing in Africa, business models, and a few success stories on that industry. The second chapter explores the quality standards of reusable pads on the continent and product certification strategies. Finally, the third chapter discusses growth levers and growth strategies for reusable pads manufacturers in Africa.

Next Health Accelerator for SRH and Self-Care

Next Health Accelerator harnesses the promise and potential of entrepreneurs with solutions to the most pressing challenges in health today, particularly in Sexual and Reproductive Health. We are looking for African talent that sees the individual as an active agent in accessing healthcare and achieving her health goals. We welcome entrepreneurs who believe in normalizing Sexual and Reproductive Health and who have scalable solutions to do so. We are looking for the startups that understand a shortage of 18 million healthcare workers by 2030 is both a challenge and an opportunity to increase access to self-care solutions that provide health seekers autonomy for diagnostics and/ or treatment. 

Sexual and Reproductive Health is an expansive term including most stigmatized health issues, all of which are burdens for women to bear: contraception, abortion, menstruation, childbirth, and menopause. The issues are numerous, and the incidence is cyclical and multiple for each girl worldwide. These issues are common for women such that females are constantly managing them. Too often we struggle with sexual and reproductive health issues in silence, in shame, in unawareness, and even in danger. Next Health Accelerator aims to change this. Beginning in Africa, this initiative is leading a movement to create sexual and health wellness for women and girls by supporting startups that dynamically understand the problems women and girls face and boldly undertake the solutions to these problems.

On the surface, the Sexual and Reproductive Health challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically, can be quantified.  The region has a population of 1.4 billion (2020), which is expected to increase to 1.9 billion by the year 2035 (Population Reference Bureau), 50 percent of whom are intimately, frequently, and consistently managing issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health. Think of something as common as menstruation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 130 million people menstruate daily, yet one in ten girls misses school each day due to period poverty (UNICEF). Next Health Accelerator aims to solve this, and other problems for women and girls across the region.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, modern methods of contraceptive prevalence are 32 percent, with huge disparities from Chad, at five percent, to Zimbabwe at 66 percent. Further studies reveal that a steady abortion rate of 33/1,000 women means that as the population increases, the numbers of annual abortions also increase to 8M per year at present. Laws are not liberalizing as quickly as necessary to save women, however due to advancements in abortion technology health outcomes are improving for women (Guttmacher).

What is more, two-thirds of all maternal deaths worldwide occur in Sub-Saharan African.  Two hundred thousand women needlessly die of pregnancy and childbirth-related causes each year, with a maternal mortality ratio of 533 maternal deaths per 100,00 live births. 

The social and systemic challenges to improving these statistics can be daunting but we know intrepid entrepreneurs who intimately understand these obstacles will surmount them with ingenuity and determination. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified “an urgent need to find innovative strategies that go beyond a conventional health sector response.” As we recruit entrepreneurs for the Next Health Accelerator, we will pay close attention to those solutions that prioritize self- care, as defined by the WHO: “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.”

Self-care health interventions are evidence-based, quality drugs, devices, diagnostics, and/or digital products that can be provided fully or partially outside of formal health services and can be used with or without the direct supervision of health care personnel. Some well-known examples include:

  • Self-Injectable Contraception: Reduces unintended pregnancies annually among the 74 million women and girls living in low-and-middle-income countries
  • Self-testing for HIV:  Ensures early access to care and treatment, if needed, and reduces the mortality rate of 770,000 people who died in 2019 from AIDS-related illness
  • Self-Collection of Samples: For sexually transmitted infections (such as chlamydia and/or gonorrhea), self-collecting samples improves testing and linkages to treatment, if needed
  • Self-Management of Medical Abortion: Reduces the number of women who die every day from unsafe abortions

The Next Health Accelerator exists to create Sexual and Health wellness, reaching beyond existing boundaries to ensure women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to Sexual and Reproductive Health. We are here to make a global impact and to advance the wellness of women and girls across the globe.

Intrepid Entrepreneurs Announces Application for its SRH Acceleration Program

Intrepid Entrepreneurs (IE) exists to catalyze the power and promise of young people and women to fundamentally advance their societies. IE is delighted to announce applications for our inaugural Next Health Accelerator (NHA). NHA will support innovators offering solutions in the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) sector with an emphasis on self-care.   

Applications are due by February 14, 2021. We welcome startups with an MVP from across Africa. Startups will be selected based on the strength of the team, the dedication, and passion of the founders, the potential market size, and the unique value proposition of their product or service. Startups must include a female founder or co-founder. 

Next Health Accelerator will provide market readiness training, international mentors and coaches, access to a strong network of value chain partners and $15,000 worth of seed funding for 10 successful startups. 

Sexual and Reproductive Health is an expansive term including most stigmatized health issues, all of which are burdens for women to bear: contraception, abortion, menstruation, childbirth, and menopause. The issues are numerous, and the incidence is cyclical and multiple for each girl on the planet. These issues are common for women such that females are constantly managing them. Too often girls and women struggle with sexual and reproductive health issues in silence, in shame, in unawareness, and even in danger.

Next Health Accelerator aims to change this. This initiative is leading a movement to create sexual and health wellness for girls and women by supporting startups that dynamically understand the problems girls and women face and boldly undertake the solutions to these problems.