Kenyan health innovators to pitch apps before global tech leaders

From left, Sanofi Kenya county chair Peter Munyasi, Dr Tanvi Sha CEO and Co-founder of The Pill Shop start-up, with Dr Moka Lantum, the CEO of Sagitarix in Nairobi yesterday.
From left, Sanofi Kenya county chair Peter Munyasi, Dr Tanvi Sha CEO and Co-founder of The Pill Shop start-up, with Dr Moka Lantum, the CEO of Sagitarix in Nairobi yesterday.

Kenyan innovators can now compete for ten slots to pitch their ideas to global tech leaders in May.

The challenge, called [email protected], is coordinated by drugs manufacturer Sanofi and takes ten African innovators to the annual VivaTech forum in Paris every year.

Last year, Kenyan app IsikCure received funding to actualise a medicines supply idea following their presentation before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, IBM boss Ginni Rometty and Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi.

“Last year, 190 startups applied and we had a panel that selected 10 start ups,” Peter Munyasi, Sanofi country chair and general manager, said in Nairobi yesterday during the launch of this year’s challenge.

“We are looking for solutions that improve awareness, diagnosis and management of diseases. The second challenge is how to improve access to medicine and the third how to organise medical data,” Munyasi said.

He said shortlisted startups will be invited to defend their projects in front of a jury consisting of Sanofi representatives and industry professionals in Nairobi.

The applications are open until February 15 after which the jury will select the final startups.

“The three challenges aim to identify, select and support the best startups in their desire to invent tomorrow’s solutions in the health sector on the African continent,” Munyasi said.

Last year, Kenya was represented in Paris by ISikCure, an app developed by Sagitarix Ltd, a private health technology and medicines distribution company based out of Nairobi.

The company gets medicines from wholesalers and delivers to people with chronic diseases within 24-48 hours throughout the country.

The app also gives users access to doctors. Moka Lantum said his company created the app to respond to challenges faced mainly by patients with diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses in Kenya.

“There is a huge problem of misdiagnosis and high likelihood of encountering unsafe, counterfeit or expensive medicines,” said Moka, who made the pitch in Paris last year.

“ ISikCure aims to tackle this challenge by improving access to quality care and safe medicine as it will help patients or households to conveniently find qualified doctors, laboratory services and original medicines when in need of care.” he said.