The plenary session entitled Financing Investments in Healthcare in Africa focused on available sources of funding for healthcare projects, experiences with financing health SMEs and innovative approaches to healthcare financing. It was moderated by Jacqueline Kitulu, the National Chair of the Kenya Medical Association (KMA). The panel consisted of Titus Karanja (CEO and Managing Director of Sidian Bank), Biju Mohandas (Head of Health and Education at IFC, sub-Saharan Africa), Michael Walli (Investment Associate at Leapfrog Investments) and Evelyn Gitonga (Director East Africa, Medical Credit Fund).
Titus Karanja explained the challenges for banks in dealing with highly specialized sectors and translating such businesses into financial terms. ‘Our partnership with the Medical Credit Fund,’ he said, ‘helps Sidian Bank to understand the private health sector in Kenya.’ Michael Walli agreed that the main challenge for investors is determining the needs of the target market.
Evelyn Gitonga introduced the Medical Credit Fund’s business model, which combines access to capital with technical support to strengthen clinical and business performance. ‘Our financing model is beneficial for the banks, but also for doctors and their patients.’ The fund recently underwent an expansion to accommodate larger loan amounts for more players in the healthcare sector.
Biju Mohandas spoke of the potential of technological innovation: ‘Technology will change healthcare, dramatically reduce costs & help doctors reach more people across more geographies. The use of data in reaching scale cannot be underestimated.’ Gitonga then provided some examples of how PharmAccess and Medical Credit Fund are using the M-TIBA platform to increase access to finance throughout the healthcare sector. The digital component of M-TIBA increases transparency and brings healthcare within reach of more people.
Entrepreneurship and innovation for growth
AFIF is an annual business platform for African SMEs, investors, financiers, market specialists and policy makers. Initiated by EMRC in 2005, it aims to encourage entrepreneurship, promote the growth of SMEs and attract investments to Africa. This year’s edition of AFIF focused on entrepreneurship and innovation with an emphasis on access to finance in sectors like energy, water, ICT, health and agriculture. Special attention was payed to the role that Africa can play in embracing the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The four-day conference at Strathmore University gathered over 200 participants to address how to improve access to finance in leading economic sectors. Speakers included senior representatives from the Kenya Investment Authority, World Bank, IFC and European Investment Bank. Keynote speaker Ban Ki-moon emphasized the crucial role of the private sector, pointing out that governments should create the right environment for the private sector to operate without restrictions.