Africa’s growing retail pharmacy sector attracting foreign investors

By our News Team | 2023

Kenyan-based e-health startup, MyDawa, gets US$20-million to grow its footprint in both the online and offline spaces.

While B2C e-commerce platforms in Africa are in a state of flux and many struggle for profitability, specialist B2C retail platforms may be on the rise. 

MyDawa, the Kenyan-based e-health startup, has recently secured a US$20-million investment from Alta Semper Capital, a UK-based frontier-markets private equity investor.


Kenyan online pharmacy, cosmetics and personal care retailer, MyDawa, is attracting significant international investment

MyDawa is an online pharmacy, cosmetics and personal care retailer. It also provides consultations, tests, referrals and a patient help desk.

Apart from its growing online presence among Kenyan consumers, the company also operates in the physical pharmacy environment and recently bought the Ugandan pharmacy chain, Guardian Health, which has 19 outlets in and around Kampala.

MyDawa was established in 2016 with the vision of revolutionising healthcare services in Africa through its digital platform and innovative offerings.

According to the website Afrikan Heroes, which covers the continent’s start-up sector, the founders set out to create a comprehensive health platform that caters to the needs of users seeking convenient, reliable and affordable healthcare solutions.

An expanding network of walk-in pharmacies

“Initially focused on e-pharmacy services, MyDawa has diversified its portfolio over time. It now offers online and in-person consultations, laboratory services, and operates an expanding network of walk-in pharmacies and health centres,” Afrikan Heroes reported. 

“The company’s diversified approach enables it to reach a broader audience and cater to various healthcare needs effectively.

“In addition to its core services, MyDawa has introduced its own branded products, expanding its offerings beyond third-party medications. Moreover, the company plans to open its technology infrastructure to fulfilment, assisting other businesses in the healthcare sector to scale their operations.”

In general, the retail pharmacy sector in sub-Saharan Africa – whether online or in the physical space – is evolving. 

Trendtype, a London-based emerging markets consultancy, says that, in 2021, Ghanaian health startup mPharma bought a 55% stake in Ugandan chain Vine Pharmacy. The latter sells medicines, nutraceuticals and cosmetics across Uganda, as well as in Rwanda and South Sudan.

In the same year, fund manager XSML – which has offices in the Netherlands, Kampala and Kinshasa – made its fourth investment in Ugandan pharmacy chain Ecopharm. The chain has since doubled its store network to 15 branches.

Dr Kin Kariisa

Group CEO - Next Media

Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

  • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
  • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
  • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
  • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.