Ilara Health Secures $4.2M Pre-Series A to Digitise Fragmented Primary Healthcare in Africa

Kenya-based start-up to scale investment in thousands of Primary care clinics through new technology and enhanced business model

Ilara Health, the healthtech company digitising and consolidating  highly fragmented primary care in Kenya, has today announced the close of a $4.2M pre-series A round of equity and debt. Led by DOB Equity, the round also sees follow-on equity investment from AAIC INVESTMENTAngaza CapitalBlack Pearl InvestmentsPerivoli Innovations, as well  as debt investment from Alphamundi and Kiva Capital. New to the round are Philips Foundation and Boehringer Ingelheim. The new partners are strategic healthcare investors that bring their deep experience working with and investing in companies in the global healthcare industry.

Ilara Health will use the latest capital injection to scale its tech-enabled primary care model across Kenya before expanding to other regions. With this latest funding, the company’s total investment to date reaches $11.7M, encompassing various funding rounds, such as a $3.75M seed round in 2020, along with multiple grants, including two grants totaling $1.6M from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Founded in 2019 by Emilian Popa, Maximilian Mancini and Sameer Afzal Farooqi, Ilara Health launched to deliver affordable and accessible quality healthcare in the peri-urban areas of Kenya. The company began by addressing the gap in diagnostics impacting primary healthcare centres in the region due to significant disparities in availability and quality testing. Ilara Health’s initial model offered revenue-generating diagnostic assets, which enabled clinics to instantly scale their businesses, whilst also providing flexible repayment plans, and also the training required to test patients.  The company has since expanded to digitising the entire end-to-end operations, leveraging data to enhance its infrastructural business model. This includes helping clinics electronically manage their patient base and becoming their one-stop shop for diagnostic tools, consumables, and pharmaceuticals.

The investment will facilitate Ilara Health’s focus for the next 12 months which is to achieve significant topline growth, keep growing the already large partner clinics network, and incorporate the next phase of growth into its model, which includes the launch of the employee health services through B2B health & occupational services, initially in select locations and later throughout the country. This is to further strengthen the Ilara Health branded clinics and achieve revenue growth, proving the path to profitability as the operating base remains broadly consistent. The healthtech company also intends to drive internal efficiencies in operations and embark on a fundraising round of both equity and debt, to support the working capital investments fueling the growth goals. There will also be a meaningful investment in technology and the proprietary Practice Management Software (PMS) to prove the longer-term data-driven potential of our business model. Live data from the PMS will enable the start-up to analyse the performance of primary care providers to provide follow-on asset lending and working capital of between $10,000 to $15,000 for: clinic rejuvenations, staff training, provision of diagnostic equipment and a ‘powered by Ilara Health’ co-branding opportunity. The company presently has 8 clinics covered by these follow-on investments and co-branding, with plans to expand to 50 by the end of the year.

Speaking on the round, Emilian Popa, CEO and Co-founder of Ilara Health says “Ilara Health came about by one common goal; to improve the quality of healthcare for Africans. We passionately believe healthcare should be affordable and accessible to all and I’m therefore proud of the measurable impact we have achieved in such a short space of time. There’s still so much more to be done, which is why we are thrilled to be joined by prominent global investors who share our core vision for Kenya and ultimately all of Africa. This fundraise will build on our continued growth and we look forward to driving standardised quality healthcare on the continent.”

Kenya has ~10,000 privately owned primary care facilities and a further ~7,000 that are publicly owned. Ilara Health’s growth momentum has so far seen it partner with over 3,000 of these clinics to deliver better healthcare across 42 Kenyan counties, which in turn serve over 5 million patients each year.

Margot Cooijmans, Director of Philips Foundation Impact Investments said, “Supporting Ilara Health reflects Philips Foundation’s effort to improve healthcare access through innovation, aligning with our goal to make quality healthcare available for all. This investment is a practical step towards bridging the healthcare gap, focusing on solutions that can be implemented in communities that need them the most.”

Bahaa Eddine Sarroukh, Impact Investment Lead at Philips Foundation said, “Ilara Health represents a significant stride forward in healthcare innovation, blending technology and finance in a manner that is both pioneering and profoundly impactful. Their approach goes beyond mere access; it’s about empowering the healthcare providers at the grassroots level with the tools and financial models they need to thrive. This blend is not just unique—it’s a critical enabler for expanding quality healthcare to those who need it most, setting a new standard for what’s possible in healthcare delivery across Africa.”

Hayo Afman, Managing Director at DOB Equity said, “Having supported Ilara Health and its founders since the beginning, we are enthusiastic about the progress and the notable improvement of patient outcomes thus far. We look forward to collaborating with our new partners to support the team in redefining the standard of medical care in Africa.”

Christian Bausch, at Boehringer Ingelheim said, “Ilara Health’s plan to decentralise financing for primary care clinics captured our hearts. We value companies and entrepreneurs that create innovative solutions that push the envelope and are proud to support Ilara Health as they address an unmet demand of clinics in Kenya and Sub Saharan Africa.”

Hiroki Ishida, Director at AAIC Partners Africa said, “Primary care represents one of the most challenging areas for business model development. Nevertheless, it serves as the foundation of the healthcare sector. As a healthcare-focused fund in Africa, I have confidence in the team’s capabilities, and I anticipate their role as innovators on this continent.”

Ilara Health intends to use its innovative tech infrastructure to bridge the estimated $66 billion financing gap and outdated processes affecting healthcare delivery across the African continent as a whole.