BY: Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in Government Editor.

Kena Health has joined the growing list of South African health-tech start-ups to have received financial backing from local and international investors.

Kena Health announced yesterday it has secured a $2.1 million (R41 million) investment, as it looks to extend its reach fromdirect-to-consumer, to include business-to-business segments.

According to the start-up, it has closed $2 million (R39 million) seed extension funding from Old Mutual-backed innovation subsidiary, NEXT176. A further $100 000 (R1.9 million) was secured from US-based early-stage investor, Tofino Capital.

Saul Kornik, founder and CEO of Kena Health, comments: “We are delighted to have Old Mutual’s NEXT176, an investor with a shared vision of sustainable impact, leading this seed extension funding round.

“The NEXT176 and Tofino Capital funding means that as Kena Health, we are better positioned to realise our ambitions and be part of a wholesale systems change for healthcare in South Africa. We also have our sights set on serving up to 75 million people across the continent.”

Vuyo Mpako, founder and MD of NEXT176, adds: “When we established NEXT176, we stated our bold ambition of creating disruptive and sustainable businesses that positively impact the lives of our customers and communities.

“We are delighted to work with Kena Health, to help us realise this in the healthcare sector. We are confident that with Kena Health, we can drive inclusion and access to healthcare.”

The investments from NEXT176 and Tofino Capitals add to Kena Health’s backing from Swedish-based health tech investor Cardo Health and a local family office.

Kena Health’s medical app was launched last year in March. The app offers on-demand and scheduled consultations with nurses, general practitioners and mental health professionals.

For R185 per consultation, patients can access a range of healthcare services, including medical advice, diagnoses, prescriptions, sick notes and referrals to a specialist via voice, text, or video.

With studies showing that only 16.4% of South Africans are members of medical aid schemes, Kena Health says its app aims to improve access to quality healthcare by lowering the cost for people in SA and across the continent.

Since the launch, the health-tech firm notes it has reached more than 200 000 people and delivered 25 000 patient consultations.

Healthy glow

Kena Health’s seed funding investment comes shortly after another South African health-tech start-up, Quro Medical, received a sizeable investment from Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC).

MIC, through its investment armKhulisani Ventures, invested R25 million in the local start-up.

Founded in 2018, health-tech firm Quro Medical offers hospital-at-home services to patients, in an effort to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. In 2020, it launched Hospital at Home, which provides qualifying patients with clinically appropriate and patient-centric hospital-level care in their homes.

In 2021, Quro Medical reportedly secured $1.1 million (R21.4 million) in a funding round, led by Kenya-based Enza Capital and South African venture capital (VC) firm Mohau Equity Partners.

Similarly, Cape Town-based health-tech start-up Strove closed a funding round led by Japanese VC fund Lifetime Ventures, last October. After the funding round, the employee wellness firm said the raise will allow it to scale its product and service offering.

In 2021, Strove raisedR4 million in seed funding to expand operations globally, saying it would target the UK first.

In the case of Kena Health, it says its current seed extension funding, and subsequent Series A funding, will be used to expand the integration of Kena into the broader healthcare ecosystem.

Kena Health also plans to extend its go-to-market distribution strategy, beyond direct-to-consumer, to include business-to-business segments, such as employers. That will allow employers to offer more affordable and pragmatic primary care for their employees. It will also partner with players in retail, financial services and super apps to expand its footprint.

“Right now, Kena Health plays an important role as an entry point into the larger healthcare system. The vision is to see Kena Health offering a broader set of clinical services, and integrating into a network of healthcare providers to expand coverage of quality healthcare, whilst lowering the overall cost of care to millions of people,” says Kornik.

He adds that his team is in final negotiations to conclude its seed extension funding and expects to be offering investors Series A opportunities within the coming year


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