NIGERIA – Medsaf, an enterprise pharmaceutical supply chain solution, has raised US$3.5 million seed round as it continues to move into the lucrative big data space.

The startup is in the process of packing more than 89 million data points on the movement of medications in Nigeria for sale to pharmaceutical companies and has made two data sales to date.

Founded in 2017 by Vivian Nwakah, Medsaf connects suppliers to hospitals and pharmacies directly in order to make the pharmaceutical supply chain more efficient.

“The lack of proper supply chain infrastructure drives health care stakeholders to the open drug markets to find their medications and consumables,” said Nwakah.

“The lack of proper supply chain infrastructure drives health care stakeholders to the open drug markets to find their medications and consumables.”

Vivian Nwakah – Founder, Medsaf

“The gap in the market was that there was no entity properly addressing the motivating factors for the state of the pharmaceutical industry. Issues around how all players in the supply chain interact with each other and the reasons why there are severe lapses within the pharmaceutical supply chain.”

Medsaf has now raised a US$3.5 million seed round, approximately one-third of which is already committed. The startup, which has taken on some angel capital in the past, has faced challenges raising before, however.

“The biggest difficulty has been trying to get investors to understand that in order to improve industries in countries like Nigeria, you have to completely disrupt the system. Things must be done in a different way and the evolution of the company will look different than a typical investment,” said Nwakah.

“We built the infrastructure that we now use to scale our company. The relationships and training of suppliers, logistics companies, finance companies, government, hospitals, pharmacies, we had to create the foundation ourselves. This is what must be done to create the future unicorns in an African context.”

160 hospitals and pharmacies purchase medications from the Medsaf platform on a monthly recurring basis, while it has over 100 supplier partnerships and partnerships with the largest pharmaceutical companies worldwid and its impact has been significant.

“In the beginning we had to build the market and sensitise the stakeholders to the concept. This year we are 100 per cent online with over 160 hospitals and pharmacies purchasing from us on a bi-monthly basis.”

Medsaf is now moving into the data space, a move Nwakah said was planned from the very beginning. Given the previous lack of an adequate database capturing the real medications needs and requests of the medical industry in Nigeria in real time, and Medsaf’s filling of that gap, the data it has collected thus far can be analysed and monetised.

Medsaf has created those mechanisms and processes and is able to use the information it is collecting to reduce costs, increase efficiency and soon, create additional revenue streams.

Whereas previously Medsaf made its money from the trade of pharmaceutical products, its new services mean it will now monetise data.

According to Disrupt Africa, aside from moving into new verticals, Medsaf is also looking at geographic expansion.

“We are currently only operating in Nigeria as it is one of the most important countries as it has one of the worst expressions of this systematic problem in emerging markets. We plan to follow the natural tradelines West and then into East Africa within the next five years,” Nwakah said.

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