The Story of mPharma, a Ghanaian Startup Revolutionising Healthcare.

Jon Lubwama

posted on Feb 22, 2023

The Story of mPharma, a Ghanaian Startup Revolutionising Healthcare.

#venture capital
#west africa
mPharma is a healthcare startup that was founded in Ghana in 2013. The company provides affordable medicines to patients in Ghana and other African countries, with a focus on chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

mPharma is a healthcare startup that was founded in Ghana in 2013. The company provides affordable medicines to patients in Ghana and other African countries, with a focus on chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. mPharma's mission is to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for everyone, regardless of income level.


The founders of mPharma are Gregory Rockson, Daniel Shoukimas, and James Finucane. Rockson and Shoukimas both grew up in Ghana and studied at the University of Ghana. Finucane, an American, met Rockson and Shoukimas while he was working as a consultant in Ghana.

How they met:

Rockson and Shoukimas met in 2009 while they were both studying at the University of Ghana. They became friends and started working on projects together, including a mobile app that allowed users to find the nearest hospital or clinic. Finucane met Rockson and Shoukimas in 2011 while he was working on a project for the Ministry of Health in Ghana. The three of them became friends and started discussing ways to improve healthcare in Ghana.

How they came up with the idea of mPharma:

The idea for mPharma came about when Rockson and Shoukimas were working on a project for a hospital in Ghana. They noticed that the hospital was wasting a lot of money on expired or unused medicines. They also observed that patients often had to pay out of pocket for expensive medicines, which made it difficult for them to afford the treatment they needed. Rockson, Shoukimas, and Finucane saw an opportunity to create a system that would help hospitals save money on medicines and make those medicines more affordable for patients.

What they have been able to achieve:

Since its founding in 2013, mPharma has made significant strides in improving healthcare in Africa. The startup has expanded its operations to several countries, including Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. mPharma has also partnered with major pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis and Pfizer to provide their medicines to patients in Africa.

One of mPharma's flagship products is a subscription service called Mutti. Mutti allows patients to pay a monthly fee for their medicines, which are delivered directly to their homes. The service is designed to make it easier and more affordable for patients to manage chronic diseases. mPharma also operates a drug inventory management system called Helium, which helps hospitals and pharmacies reduce waste and save money on medicines.

In addition to its commercial operations, mPharma has also launched several initiatives to improve healthcare in Africa. The company has partnered with the Ghanaian government to provide free screening and treatment for hypertension and diabetes and has also provided free COVID-19 testing to underserved communities.

How big is the problem that mPharma is solving?

mPharma is addressing a significant problem in Africa's healthcare industry - the lack of access to affordable medicines. This problem is particularly acute for patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer, which require long-term treatment and can be expensive to manage.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 60% of the world's population lives in low- and middle-income countries, where access to essential medicines is often limited. In Africa, only 50% of the population has access to essential medicines, and the cost of these medicines can be prohibitively high. As a result, many people are unable to afford the medicines they need to manage their health conditions, leading to poor health outcomes and increased healthcare costs.

In addition to the issue of affordability, there are also challenges related to the quality and availability of medicines in many African countries. The WHO estimates that up to 30% of medicines in low- and middle-income countries are substandard or counterfeit, which can have serious health consequences for patients.

mPharma is tackling these challenges by working with hospitals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies to make high-quality medicines more affordable and accessible to patients. The company's subscription service, Mutti, allows patients to pay a monthly fee for their medicines, which are delivered directly to their homes. This makes it easier and more convenient for patients to manage their chronic conditions and reduces the financial burden of healthcare costs.

mPharma's drug inventory management system, Helium, is also helping to address the issue of waste and inefficiency in the healthcare supply chain. By tracking and managing the flow of medicines from manufacturers to hospitals and pharmacies, Helium helps to reduce the risk of expired or unused medicines, which can save hospitals and patients money.

Overall, mPharma is addressing a critical need in Africa's healthcare system by improving access to affordable, high-quality medicines. By doing so, the company is helping to improve health outcomes for patients, reduce healthcare costs, and promote economic growth and development in the region. mPharma is a prime example of a successful startup that is making a significant impact in Africa's healthcare industry. With its innovative products and services, the company is helping to address some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare in the region.

How much funding has mPharma raised and when.

mPharma has raised $77.1 million in disclosed funding across 7 funding rounds in a period of 6 years as broken down below.

Series D funding round in January 2022. mPharma raised $30 million from JAM Fund, Unbound, Lux Capital, Northstar Ventures, Social Capital, Novastar Ventures and TO Ventres.

A $5 million debt financing round in January 2022 from Citibank.

A Series C $17 million funding round in May 2020 from CDC Group, Dr Daniel Vasella, Jim Breyer and Dompe Holdings.

A $1.5 million Grant from the Skoll Foundation in April 2019

A $12 million Series B in March 2019 from 4DX Ventures, Novastar Ventures and Unbound Ventures

A $6.6 million Series A in December 2017 from 4DX ventures, Breyer Capital, Social Capital, Golden Plam Investment Holdings Co and Shravin Bharti Mittal

A $5m seed round in January 2016 from Golden Palm Investment Holdings Co, Olive Tree Ventures and Social Capital

These funding rounds have helped mPharma to expand its operations to several African countries and launch new products and services to improve healthcare access and affordability in the region.

Who are some of mPharma's competitors?

mPharma operates in a highly competitive healthcare industry, with several companies offering similar services in Africa. Some of mPharma's competitors include:

Haltons Pharmacy: Haltons Pharmacy is a Nigerian company that offers online pharmacy services and drug delivery to patients. The company operates in Lagos and Abuja and offers a wide range of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and healthcare products.

MyDawa: MyDawa is a Kenyan company that offers an online pharmacy platform and drug delivery services. The company allows patients to order medicines, health supplements, and personal care products from their smartphones and have them delivered to their homes or workplaces.

Zipline: Zipline is a US-based company that operates in Africa, providing on-demand delivery of medical supplies and vaccines to remote areas via drone. The company partners with governments and healthcare providers to improve access to critical medical supplies in hard-to-reach areas.

ConnectMed: ConnectMed is a Kenyan telemedicine platform that allows patients to consult with doctors online via video or chat. The company also offers prescription delivery and laboratory testing services, making it easier for patients to access healthcare services from the comfort of their homes.

Medsaf: Medsaf is a Nigerian online pharmacy and drug delivery platform that connects hospitals and pharmacies with licensed suppliers of pharmaceutical products. The company aims to improve access to safe and high-quality medicines in Nigeria and other African countries.

Despite the competition, mPharma has established itself as a leader in the African healthcare industry through its innovative solutions and commitment to improving access to affordable medicines. The company's focus on partnerships with hospitals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies has also helped it to build a strong network of stakeholders in the region.

What are the challenges that mPharma faces?

While mPharma has enjoyed significant success in the African healthcare industry, the company is not immune to challenges. Here are some of the key challenges that mPharma has faced or may face in the future:

Limited healthcare infrastructure: Many African countries have limited healthcare infrastructure, including a shortage of healthcare providers, inadequate facilities, and limited access to essential medical supplies. This can make it challenging for mPharma to scale its operations and reach patients in remote or underserved areas.

Regulatory hurdles: The regulatory environment for healthcare companies in Africa can be complex and unpredictable, with varying requirements for drug registration, importation, and distribution. mPharma must navigate these regulations carefully to ensure compliance and avoid legal or reputational risks.

High costs: mPharma's innovative solutions can be costly to develop and implement, and the company must balance the need for affordability with the need for sustainability. This can be particularly challenging in low-income markets, where patients may not be able to afford high drug prices.

Competition: The African healthcare industry is highly competitive, with many companies offering similar services. mPharma must continue to innovate and differentiate itself from competitors to maintain its market position.

Logistics and supply chain challenges: Delivering medicines to patients in remote or underserved areas can be logistically challenging, particularly in regions with poor road infrastructure or limited transportation options. mPharma must ensure that it has a robust supply chain and logistics systems in place to ensure the timely and efficient delivery of medicines.

COVID-19 pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the African healthcare industry, disrupting supply chains, reducing demand for non-COVID-related healthcare services, and increasing the burden on healthcare systems. mPharma has had to adapt its operations to these changing circumstances and may face ongoing challenges related to the pandemic in the years to come.

While these challenges are significant, mPharma has demonstrated a strong commitment to overcoming them through innovation, strategic partnerships, and a focus on patient needs. With continued investment and support, mPharma has the potential to overcome these challenges and continue to make a significant impact in the African healthcare industry.

Will mPharma be successful?

mPharma has already achieved significant success in the African healthcare industry, and the company's future prospects look promising. Here are some factors that suggest mPharma has a good chance of continued success:

Strong market demand: There is a significant and growing need for affordable, high-quality medicines in Africa, particularly for patients with chronic diseases. mPharma's innovative solutions have already helped to improve access to these medicines for thousands of patients, and the company's market share is likely to continue to grow as demand for these services increases.

Experienced leadership team: mPharma's leadership team has a strong track record of success in the healthcare industry, with extensive experience in finance, operations, and healthcare management. The team's expertise and strategic vision have helped to guide the company's growth and expansion in Africa.

Innovative solutions: mPharma's drug inventory management system, Helium, and its subscription service, Mutti, are both innovative solutions that address key challenges in the healthcare supply chain. These solutions have already gained traction in the African market and are likely to continue to drive growth for the company.

Strategic partnerships: mPharma has formed strategic partnerships with hospitals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies in Africa, which have helped to expand the company's reach and increase its impact. These partnerships also provide a strong foundation for future growth and development.

Investor confidence: mPharma has raised over $77 million in funding from a range of investors, including impact funds, venture capital firms, and development finance institutions. This investor confidence is a strong indicator of the company's potential for future success.

While there are certain risks and challenges associated with operating in the African healthcare market, mPharma's strong leadership, innovative solutions, and strategic partnerships suggest that the company has a good chance of continued success in the years to come.

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