Strong Changemakers in East Africa: Solving Real Problems in Clever Ways

“It is no secret that vibrant start-up cultures throughout East Africa are solving real problems in clever ways.”

In partnership with USAID, we have had the great opportunity to operate the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) and work closely with inspiring and talented entrepreneurs in East Africa who are committed to increasing access to quality healthcare at lower cost.  We have benefited in learning from them about innovative business models and financing, formation of partnerships, and the region’s flourishing innovation ecosystem.

Our SEAD partner, Innovations in Healthcare, opened an East Africa office to help us deepen our understanding of the regulatory, partnership, and funding environment so we could better support the entrepreneurs and share knowledge with other influential ecosystem players.  Last year, SEAD released Healthcare Innovation in East Africa: Navigating the Ecosystem, a report that highlighted the trends that both promote and hinder the development and scale of healthcare innovation in the region.

We encourage you to revisit (or visit for the first time!) the knowledge captured in this report, including an exploration of key regional themes and innovation trends.

We are excited to see how the many stakeholders in the region continue to take advantage of the opportunities for growth and scale.  And we are grateful for the opportunity to extend our SEAD learnings into all aspects of our continued work in scaling social impact, including most recently through a deep dive with Evidence Action in our Scaling Pathways series.


SEAD Entrepreneurs Operating in East Africa

Afya Research Africa: Helps communities set-up and manage medical centers, design the right technology for small remote healthcare facilities, and promotes local research and evidence-based medicine to improve quality of care.

MicroClinic Technologies: Commercializing ZiDi, Africa’s first enterprise health management solution which enables clinics and hospitals across Africa to improve management of patient care, medicines, and personnel.

Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP): Engages Community Health Promoters to provide health education and door-to-door sales of health and hygiene products in rural Kenya.

ZanaAfrica: A social enterprise that locally manufactures and distributes affordable, high quality sanitary pads for girls and women in East Africa. ZanaAfrica also focuses on issues such as health education and policy advocacy for girls.

LifeNet: Strengthens local healthcare capacity, by partnering with community health centers to build their medical and administrative capacity and connect them with necessary pharma/medical equipment. Partner clinics have seen a 72% increase in quality of patient care.

Northstar: Operates a network of 38 converted shipping container clinics placed along Africa’s transport corridors to ensure access to healthcare for mobile workers. Partners with over 70 public, private and social organizations.

Changamka: An integrated health financing company that utilizes an electronic platform, accessible by mobile phones, to facilitate the financing of healthcare services for the working poor in Kenya.

Jacaranda Health: Combines business and clinical innovations to create a self-sustaining and scalable chain of clinics that provide reproductive health services to poor urban women.

Riders for Health: International social enterprise that manages and maintains vehicles for health-focused partners in sub-Saharan Africa which enables health works to deliver vital health care to rural communities on a reliable and cost-effective basis.

Penda Health: Builds a chain of primary healthcare clinics to finally bring quality healthcare to Kenya’s lower income families by utilizing a unique staffing model and a focused set of services that address key outpatient needs in order to bring down costs.

Sproxil: Provides world-class brand protection services in emerging markets by allowing consumers to verify product genuineness within seconds through SMS texts.

WE CARE Solar: Promotes safe motherhood and reduces maternal mortality in developing regions by providing health workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication, and blood bank refrigeration using solar electricity.