Lack of accessibility to essentials for everyday living is often the story behind the downfall of systems around the globe. For instance, Nigeria is the home of some of the world’s brightest minds, but significant setbacks include its healthcare system, which impedes its citizens from seeking to live fruitful lives. However, healthcare should be a human right, and this is what pushed DrugStoc co-founders Chibuzo Opara and Adham Yehia to create what is now Africa’s leading health tech platform. Their platform serves as a tech-enabled solution that combats the continent’s broken pharmaceutical supply chains through connecting drug store companies with hospitals and pharmacies in Nigeria.
Before launching DrugStoc, Opara and Yehia founded Integra Health, a hospital management company, which paved the way for their discovery of how tech could break barriers within the pharmaceutical market.
“It was quite a black box what tech could do,” Yehia told AfroTech. “We came from the health provision industry. Chi is a doctor and economist, and I managed facilities. We knew for sure what the problems were from the healthcare perspective, but we didn’t know how to adapt technology to solve these problems in a sustainable manner and in a manner that can be built with the future in mind. So, I think it gave us a lot of experience on how to approach the market and who the market is. But most importantly, it connected us even deeper to what challenges are there for why healthcare providers are not switching to tech. What were the barriers? How could we solve them, and how could we address it?”
It’s their thought-provoking questions that have ultimately led to the health tech startup delivering pharmaceutical products to millions and connecting 400 manufacturers to 3,200 doctors, hospitals and pharmacies since its initial launch in 2017, as previously reported by AfroTech.
Series A Funding
AfroTech previously shared that DrugStoc raised $4.4 million in a Series A funding round led by Africa HealthCare Master Fund, Vested World, the German Development Bank, and others.
Securing the funding is a triumphant moment that Yehia feels is not only instilling hope into Nigeria but also further making room for the bright, promising future that’s in store for the African continent.
“I truly believe that we have some of the most untapped potential and energy in the world that is here,” he said. “I mean, if you come to Lagos, [you] just see how many people are so entrepreneurial and creative. So, I’m hoping that we can retain some of that transformative energy and patriotism in the sense that we want to do this for Africa itself because we are from here. And, I’m glad that capital is beginning to follow that narrative by saying, ‘We will invest if it is a good idea and if it has an impact.’ I’m excited about what Africa is going to become now that people are more confident in investing in the right people, businesses, and practices.”
Supporting Healthcare Providers
Throughout their mission of improving Africa’s pharmaceutical supply chains, the team remains intentional in working toward ensuring that Nigerian healthcare providers are properly looked after. There is no DrugStoc without the tireless efforts of the workers on the frontline and they deserve ample support as the tech company is leading the movement toward a better healthcare system for Nigeria.
“I believe that we will always continue to find out what the health provider needs and try to essentially design the system around the constraints in Nigeria, which is the fact that we only have 30,000 doctors and 20,000 pharmacists for a population of around 200 million — which is a gross underestimation of what we need,” Yehia said.
He continued: “Our mantra and what we’ve been convinced about is that we need to empower these guys a lot more than we even initially thought. Everybody that has a license to practice and offers healthcare services in Sub-Saharan Africa is an asset to the country that can not be lost. We want to ensure that they’re empowered to do their job, and they have all the tools that they need.”
The Future Of DrugStoc
With the help of its latest funding, DrugStoc plans to expand to 16 states in Nigeria. The plan for the road ahead is to, first, ensure that Nigeria as a whole is covered. Then, they plan to eventually transition into becoming the one-stop shop for all healthcare providers in Africa as a whole.
Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.