Access Afya is a healthcare enterprise that delivers high-quality and localized healthcare, designed specifically to serve the needs of low-income markets around the world.
They do this through the deployment of their unique healthcare operating system. This bespoke technology platform leverages rich patient data to facilitate efficient diagnostic, operational, and follow-up care pathways.
Their team is made up of enthusiastic designers, healthcare professionals, engineers, and operations experts who are tirelessly working in their communities and with their patients.
The startup has developed a modern, digitized healthcare operating system for the urban poor in Kenya, and maintains a chain of clinics, pharmacies, and mobile health facilities for patients.
Access Afya is also an affordable healthcare company fully based in Nairobi operating primary healthcare clinics, retail pharmacies, mobile health, and Access Afya analytics.
Interestingly, mobile health pushes classic clinical care into factories, schools, and other places where patients spend their time. Retail pharmacies create a safe first entry point into the health system with a qualified staff, genuine medication, and sound health advice.
Access Afya has developed a low-cost, tech-enabled model for getting evidence-based medicine to residents of Nairobi’s informal settlements.
As of 2017, Access Afya had grown to a chain of five sites and served over 30,000 quality primary care visits.
The organization grew through raising convertible notes, bootstrapping, and applying some innovation funding to build out new concepts such as mobile diabetes and hypertension screening supported by co-creation partner Boehringer Ingelheim.
Access Afya is redefining the care system for Nairobi’s urban slums. Their clients often do not have safe access to quality primary care. This means they frequently buy medicine over the counter from unlicensed, unsafe chemists.
This is usually not the right treatment, and self-medication is creating a growing problem of antibiotic resistance in Kenya.
Their micro-clinic model is lean: two shifts of two people run the facility, which is open 10 hours a day, seven days a week. It is designed for efficiency, fitting essential primary care services into an average plot size in the slums, which ranges from 100 to 200 square feet.
Despite common narratives about unwillingness to pay at the base of the pyramid, their pilot clinic has over 1,000 clients and has earned more than $4,500 in its first year.
Patients pay an average of about $4 each, depending on which service they use. Monthly revenue increased and with increasing word-of-mouth referrals, better marketing, and branding materials, and sustained community outreach, we aim to have all four sites current and planned self-sustaining.
How it Works
Akiba ya Roho program
The Akiba ya Roho program utilizes trained community members to conduct mass non-communicable disease screenings in slums with an intuitive mobile app.
The app guides users through a series of simple health questions, and community members take basic measurements like blood sugar and pressure.
Clinical team members have the autonomy to problem-solve. Each week, they have team meetings to discuss challenges – both operational and client cases.
They are also creating a culture of planning, implementing, reviewing, and improving. Clinical team members are also marketers and educators, going into the community to learn more about their clients and spread the word about their services.
Access Afya is part of a multi-country collaborative on primary care clinic chains. All clinical team members are guaranteed training each year, through continuing education, online learning, and chances to present what they learned to their peers.
This builds confidence in their team, and knowledge in their organization and is in line with their social mission to improve a sector, and not just their bottom line.
Melissa Menke is the founder of Access Afya. Access
Melissa is a Forbes 400 Philanthropy Fellow and a Cartier Women’s Initiative Award Finalist.
She has spoken globally about digital health innovation in low-resource settings.
Melissa holds a Master’s in Public Service from New York University. She has served on the Board of the Young Women Social Entrepreneurs Nairobi, which holds events promoting women in business.
As Board Chair, she is working with Access Afya and its new leadership team to plan and prepare for their next wave of growth: the expansion of their franchise model and virtual clinic across the country.
Investors & Funding Rounds
Solve Innovation Future, others (non-disclosed)
Access Afya has become one of the first investments made by MIT Solve through its new venture vehicle, as part of a US$900,000 bridge funding round.
Startups are selected annually through Solve’s open innovation challenges and backed with amounts ranging from US$75,000 to US$250,000.
The initiative has three investments, and among them is the Nairobi-based Access Afya, which has raised US$90,000 from Solve as part of a US$900,000 bridge financing round.
startups, especially those prioritizing social impact, need risk-tolerant and flexible investment capital to scale.
Solve is proud to invest in these incredible Solver teams and they look forward to collaborating with other organizations and individuals to unlock much-needed capital for global early-stage social ventures.
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