Knife Capital leads $21M Series B for Kasha’s Africa expansion. As Africa’s youthful population continues to grow at a rapid pace, it is crucial for entrepreneurs to develop diverse healthcare solutions that will meet the medical needs of the continent’s future. The pandemic brought attention to Africa’s private healthcare sector from investors, but one area that remains overlooked is women’s health, which encompasses women’s menstrual and reproductive health and is predominantly led by women founders.
Nevertheless, looking at other emerging markets, it is evident that the venture capital funding this category deserves is only a matter of time. This is exemplified by the recent $21 million Series B investment in Kasha, a Rwandan startup, which serves as a subtle testament to the potential of women’s health startups.
Kasha Secures $21M Series B Funding for Africa Expansion
Kasha, founded in 2016 by CEO Joanna Bichsel, is not your typical women’s health startup. It can be best described as a digital retail platform catering to a wide range of customers while focusing on women’s healthcare needs and household items. The startup operates as a digital retail and last-mile distribution platform for pharmaceuticals and fast-moving consumer goods, providing products like sanitary pads, contraceptives, diapers, and cleaning supplies. Its clientele includes individual consumers, small resellers, hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics.
Initially, Kasha adopted a direct-to-consumer model in Rwanda, delivering health products for women and newborns. However, it soon expanded into wholesale when small shops began ordering the same products. With the necessary pharmaceutical license, the platform now serves pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics as well, offering an array of products spanning from newborn child health and maternal health to menstrual hygiene, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, and noncommunicable diseases.
Knife Capital Leads Investment to Propel Kasha’s Health Access Platform
Joanna Bichsel, the CEO, emphasized that women are a significant target audience in the health space due to having unique health needs and playing a decisive role in household health decisions. Since some health products for women carry stigma, Kasha aims to offer a wide variety of products, including personal care items, health products like contraceptives, and household staples like rice. Notable top-selling products include HIV self-tests, contraceptives, and pregnancy tests. The startup continuously expands its product offerings based on customer demand, catering to various customer segments, such as small kiosk shops, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and individual consumers.
Kasha initially raised $1.5 million in seed funding from angel and impact investors when it started in Rwanda. After expanding into Kenya, the startup secured a $3.6 million Series A from Finnfund, Swedfund, DFC, and Mastercard Corporate. The recent Series B round, led by Knife Capital, featured participation from various investors, including Tim Koogle (former CEO of Yahoo), Beyond Capital Ventures, Altree Capital, Bamboo Capital’s BLOC Smart Africa Fund, and Five35 Ventures.
Kasha Aims to Address Healthcare Needs Across Africa
According to Kasha’s CEO, the company’s strategic focus on health sets it apart from other East African B2B e-commerce platforms like Twiga and Wasoko, which have a broader range of product categories beyond pharmaceuticals. Kasha’s expertise lies in health, and it aims to excel in this area while also offering capabilities like telehealth and credit services to B2B customers. The platform connects consumers without prescriptions to doctors, and it provides inventory credit to pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals, extending its reach to the mass market customer across the country.
To ensure the authenticity of its products, Kasha collaborates directly with manufacturers and suppliers, sourcing and stocking the items it distributes. In addition to its commercial operations, the startup utilizes various content channels to disseminate information on safety to its consumers. Furthermore, its enterprise business offers visibility and insights to global health organizations on market strategies.
Knife Capital leads $21M Series B for Kasha’s Africa expansion.
Keet van Zyl, co-founder and partner at Knife Capital, expressed enthusiasm about partnering with Kasha in its Pan-African expansion journey, noting the company’s high-growth and capital-efficient nature, as well as its strong focus on serving women customers.
Since closing its Series A funding in late 2020, Kasha has experienced remarkable annual recurring revenue growth, reaching 50 times its initial figure, as revealed by CEO Joanna Bichsel. While the company was initially seen as a social impact business, it now aims to aggressively grow its revenue, expand globally, deliver strong returns for investors, and potentially go public. Despite the challenges faced by female-led startups in Africa’s venture capital market, Kasha remains determined to achieve its mission of becoming Africa’s leading digital platform for last-mile access to health. The recent Series B funding, led by Knife Capital, will be instrumental in driving the company’s expansion across Africa and investing in strategic areas of the business to sustain its high-growth trajectory. The continued support and reinvestment from existing investors further strengthen Kasha’s resolve to succeed in its purpose-driven journey.