Alta Semper Capital LLP, the majority investor in Nigerian Pharmaceutical retailer, HealthPlus Limited, has contributed to an important study on improving the availability, affordability, access to and quality of essential medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Managing Parter & CEO of Alta-Semper, Afsane Jetha, served on the Learning Committee of industry stakeholders steering the project that worked to examine how blended financing approaches can accelerate the growth and impact of start-ups and mid-sized distributors of health products in sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda) to improve the availability, affordability, access and quality of essential medicines.
The report of the study published by Salient Advisory, stated that “for start-ups and distributors to grow and scale efficiently, they need: Risk-tolerant capital to develop and deploy technology-driven innovations; Access to timely, affordable foreign currency to optimize product importation; Affordable working capital in local currency to ease cash conversion cycles; The ability to secure affordable debt; and Regulatory approaches that enable start-ups to expand scale and scope, while maintaining patient safety”.
The study was facilitated by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The report noted that “over the past 20 years, blended finance initiatives to improve health in Africa have traditionally focused more heavily on product development (e.g. through product development partnerships), product pricing (e.g. through volume guarantees), and clinical service delivery (e.g. through joint programs for investment paired with technical assistance).”
“In comparison, opportunities to blend highly risk-tolerant grant capital with debt and equity to address market failures in health product distribution appear under-explored. Ambitious, rigorous and action-oriented approaches are required. To jump start thinking on potential action, early ideation in two areas was undertaken”.
“First, to better deploy risk-tolerant financing and professionalized support for tech-enabled start-ups in health product distribution and delivery, a state-of-the-art initiative to scale data-driven innovations through small grant funds and professionalized acceleration was described.”
“Second, to enable better access to debt, with a focus on affordable working capital, an effort to build a best-inclass, scalable risk assessment mechanism was outlined. This capacity could power a working capital facility for health, where funding would be raised in local currencies, to further decrease debt prices for small- and medium health enterprises in distribution and delivery.