, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – Africa’s first healthcare accelerator will be launched in Kenya, courtesy of German companies Ampion and Merck.
According to Ampion, the accelerator will take up startups and entrepreneurs venturing in e-health solutions with large scale impact in the society.
“Our goal is to work with people who are starting or have been doing business in the health care sector in the Kenya. Healthcare is of course an important sector in Kenya with many opportunities to venture into,” Ampion co-founder and head of communications, Jan Schafft said in Nairobi.
Ampion is rightly suited to do so. Its affiliate company Merck, has been in the pharmaceuticals industry on the continent for more than one hundred years giving it ample of experience in the sector.
Additionally, the company has been nurturing startups around the world since 2011.
“We have been supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs for the last four years having mentored some in Kenya eight months ago,” Ampion Co-founder Ifeanyi Oteh said.
The launch of the accelerator is a follow-up model for nurturing startups of its Ampion Venture Bus initiative and its fellowship programme.
The Ampion Venture Bus for instance, collects applications from interested entrepreneurs and start-ups via its website and takes the forty most viable ideas in areas of e-health, finech and greentech among others.
The forty entrants are taken on a bus ride across the region where it is taking place for a specific duration of time. The first and only Bus Startup ride in Kenya took five days.
During the bus ride, startups and entrepreneurs interact and network among one another as they receive business mentorship from mentors brought on board by Ampion. Additionally, Ampion helps the startups write business plans. By the end of the ride, each leaves with a viable prototype.
“Our first Bus startup took place eight months ago whereby we travelled from Tanzania, coming into Kenya and ended the trip in Rwanda. We had startups and entrepreneurs from everywhere in the region and other countries too,” he explained.
The Bus Startup ride is then followed by a fellowship organised by Ampion where select entrepreneurs and startups from the Ampion Venture Bus undergo further training. This is followed by the finally step of admitting select individuals to the accelerator.
“We are however doing things a bit differently here. Applicants with brilliant ideas in healthcare can skip apply directly for the acceleration program. We will however still have the Bus Startup program to provide an opportunity for upcoming entrepreneurs to network,” Schafft explained.
James Odede, 24, for instance was part of the Bus Startup programme that took place eight months ago. According to Odede, the trip was very beneficial as he ended up meeting people on board to start an e-health solutions business.
“I could not have started MobiDawa without my co-founders who I met in the bus ride. The company offers medicine advice to the online audience and raises drug awareness online,” Odede explained.
He therefore advises others to enrol with Ampion.
“Such are the collaborations we are hoping to establish in Kenya and the region. We are also urging women to take advantage of the fifty percent enrolment that is provided for them,” Fabian Guhl, CEO and Co-founder of Ampion said.
Ampion however promises to only invest in the two or three most viable business with a total of between US$20,000 (Sh2million) and US$50,000 (Sh5million).
“We will mentor and train entrepreneurs with viable ideas. However, we shall only invest in those which we see have an in depth impact on society,” he added.
Asked on what their business model is and how they are making money, Schafft explained that Ampion is currently not out to make money as most of its projects are currently pilot projects. However, once they stabilizing, they may earn from equity gained from businesses they invest in.