The story of ZamZam Medical Center, Kenya

The Zamzam Medical Center has a sign at the entrance that reads your choice for quality care. Located opposite the Seventh Day Adventist Church next to Chali Plaza in Ngong, Kenya, Zamzam has another sign on the roof, and one on the road, that both point inside with red arrows that read, “Open 24 hours”—including Sundays and public holidays.

The clinic takes up a quarter acre. Inside the brick building, there is a furnished reception area, two consultation rooms, a pharmacy, a laboratory, a procedure room, observation and ultrasound rooms, the wards, and an administration office.

Mrs. Esther Muthoni Karaya owns Zamzam. A registered nurse and midwife, she has worked in healthcare for many years. Her dream was to own a modern health center, but after she was evicted from the center’s previous location, that dream seemed to be in doubt. Still, she took control of the situation and eventually converted a family home into Zamzam.

To support her business, she has used MCF loans since 2013, but as a female entrepreneur, she has often struggled with getting access to larger loans — because the collateral cannot be put in her name.

Cash Advance has helped provide her with the funds she needs, usually in less than 48 hours. Because Zamzam uses a digital till to receive patient payments, Esther can take out small, fast Cash Advance loans, and select a percentage of the clinic’s mobile revenues to automatically repay the loans. Accessing these funds has helped her better manage cash-flows—especially when insurance payments are late—and deal quickly and directly with basic working capital needs like salary payments and restocking her pharmacy.

I’ve accessed multiple Cash Advance loans from MCF. Bank terms are too bureaucratic compared to the ease with which I access Cash Advance(s). I am currently working to convert my facility to fully digital…to push more than 80 percent of our transactions through the till, and the remaining percentage will be insurance payments.

With support from MCF, Zamzam has also worked on quality improvements. The clinic currently serves almost 17,000 patients every year, more than living up to the promise of the sign at the entrance.

Established in 2009 as part of the PharmAccess Group, the Medical Credit Fund (MCF) is the only not-for profit fund exclusively dedicated to financing small and medium-sized healthcare companies (health SMEs) in Africa. MCF is a blended fund that works with a wide network of African partners to provide SMEs with loans and technical assistance so they can expand their businesses and invest in quality improvement. MCF uses innovative financing solutions and digital technologies to cater to the financing needs of health SMEs and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for health.