KENYA – Access Afya, a healthcare startup has become one of the first investments made by MIT Solve through its new venture vehicle, as part of a US$900,000 bridge funding round.  

MIT Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is run by  Melissa Menke, who is the Founder and CEO. It identified tech-based social entrepreneurs through open innovation challenges and helps them drive transformational impact.   

Launched by Solve last year, Solve Innovation Future is a philanthropic venture vehicle that uses debt, equity, and alternative structures to invest in entrepreneurs driving social and environmental impact.  

Startups are selected annually through Solve’s open innovation challenges, and backed with amounts ranging from US$75,000 to US$250,000. The initiative has announced its first three investments, and among them is the Nairobi-based Access Afya, which has raised US$90,000 from Solve as part of a US$900,000 bridge financing round.  

The startup has developed a modern, digitised healthcare operating system for the urban poor in Kenya, and maintains a chain of clinics, pharmacies, and mobile health facilities for patients. Also funded were Mexican childcare app Kinedu and US-based blockchain-based commerce platform Queen of Raw.  

“When we first launched Solve Innovation Future, the world was a very different place,” said Casey van der Stricht, principal at Solve Innovation Future.   

“Now more than ever, startups – especially those prioritising social impact – need risk-tolerant and flexible investment capital to scale. Solve is proud to invest in these incredible Solver teams and we look forward to collaborating with other organisations and individuals to unlock much-needed capital for global early-stage social ventures.”  

In the wake of the COVID19 pandemic, MIT Solve came up with a Global Challenge to support tech solutions that can either slow or track the spread of the virus. Some of the startups aim at improving personal hygiene, analyze data, inform their decision making, or provide tools that are essential for healthcare workers. 

Thus far, the fund has invested in other ventures namely; the Mexican app on childcare kinedu aimed at toddlers and helps in fostering early childhood development. Their second investment is aimed at the U.S based blockchain-powered commerce platform Queen of Raw.