Shelf Life is a revolutionary pharmaceutical inventory management subscription service launched in Abuja in 2017 and has expanded to Kenya. Within that time, through their business model of supplying pharmaceutical products to community-based outlets, it has received widespread acceptance.
The service, provided by social enterprise Field Intelligence, is active in 50 retail locations in Kenya, with over 500 life-saving medicines and essential products being supplied on a pay-as-you-sell basis. In Kenya, there are about 5,840 privately-owned community pharmacies licensed by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, compared to approximately 4,700 government health facilities.
With the concept gaining popularity, Field Intelligence has been seeking to raise funds to expand to more shops both in Kenya and Nigeria. To this front, the company has announced the successful closing of its Series A funding of US$3.6 million equity.
The US$3.6 million equity raise will fund the scale-up of Shelf Life, the technology-enabled supply chain finance platform for pharmacies in Africa. The Series A funding round was led by Blue Haven Initiative -early-stage private equity firm with a focus on energy, fintech, logistics and human capital ventures in Sub Saharan Africa, with a portfolio that includes CrossBoundary Energy, M-KOPA, Paystack, Shortlist and Twiga Foods.
Other investors including Newtown Partners via the Imperial Venture Fund and Accion Venture Lab.
Michael Moreland, Co-Founder, and CEO, Field Intelligence, says, “We’re delighted to welcome new investors into the business. They share our vision for catalyzing change in a huge and vitally-important sector. They bring deep fintech and logistics experience, which will be vital in helping us build a new generation of healthcare supply chains in Africa and beyond.”
Shelf Life’s pharmacy clients can subscribe to over a thousand quality-assured and price-stabilized drugs from 50 medical, health and wellness categories. Using Field Intelligence’s technology platform, Shelf Life forecasts, procures, delivers, manages, and finances each product the pharmacy has subscribed to.
Over 280 community pharmacies in Nigeria and Kenya have now subscribed to Shelf Life, making it one of the largest networks of pharmacies on the continent. It is making the business of community pharmacy less risky and lower-cost while improving access to an expanded selection of higher-quality medicines.
Since inception, Shelf Life has maintained 96% stock availability for its clients, up from a pre-Shelf Life baseline of 60%. As an alternative to traditional inventory finance, Shelf Life costs pharmacies between 60 and 82% less than traditional loans – freeing these small retailers from prohibitively expensive capital.
Advisory support to this transaction was provided by CrossBoundary through USAID’s INVEST program funded by the USAID Southern and East Africa Regional Missions in support of the US Government’s Prosper Africa initiative.
The annual pharmaceuticals market in Africa is valued at over $60 billion. For 80% of people in Africa, their community pharmacy is the frontline of the health system and yet they routinely stock out of essential medicines, incur significant losses to expiry and struggle with substandard and falsified drugs. These inefficiencies cost the health system millions of dollars each year and limit access to quality care.
According to the company’s research, 60% of community pharmacies frequently stock out of essential medicines and 55% are without access to stable supply and finance.
Lauren Cochran, Managing Director, Blue Haven Initiative says, “Shelf Life is a proven platform to transform access to medicines through Africa’s private community pharmacy market. The design and development have been done on the ground in Nigeria and Kenya and there’s a real experience in the team of what it takes to deliver at scale in African health systems.”
The announcement comes at a time when the continent is apprehension about the readiness of the continent to support a system against any outbreak of Coronavirus and its implications. With the networked supply through Shelf Life, the company hopes to avail enough medical supplies and hygiene supplies for the continent.