Africa’s fragmented pharmaceutical supply chain has caused affordability and accessibility to be common problems faced by patients, and frontline workers are challenged with access to credit, counterfeit products and frequent stockouts. These issues contribute to the major hindrances experienced in the ecosystem, and have increased the need for a simplified, data-led solution to build the supply chain.
Since launching Shelf Life in 2017, we have been focussed on supporting Africa’s independent and franchise pharmacies, which currently make up 80% of frontline care to Africa’s 1.4bn population. Through the use of our technology-enabled platform we are able to cut through historical challenges with practical live data, inventory and our pioneering Pay-As-You-Sell model which provides low risk access to capital.
Equality, progress, growth, and sustainability within healthcare all start with accessibility and affordability, which has formed the foundation of our business. This alone has driven our expansion from solely operating in the FCT region in Nigeria in 2015, to now servicing pharmacies within Rivers, Edo, Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Delta and Kwara States in Nigeria, and Eldoret, Mombasa, Kisumu and Naivasha in Kenya.
Our extended reach into these regions will enable us to build on our existing 700+ pharmacy memberships, and accelerate quality frontline healthcare across Africa.
Supporting the frontline throughout 2020
Healthcare has never quite been so centre stage as it was in 2020, there were many tech innovations that drove healthcare access, especially with last mile and telemedicine services. Due to 90% of drugs consumed in Sub-saharan Africa being imported, shortages in supply were at critical levels.
Pharmaceutical shortages was a global issue and still is to a lesser extent, however we were able to remain resilient and ensure support for pharmacies across Nigeria and Kenya by using data analytics to optimise predictions and identify irregularities in the market. We noticed very early on an usual growing trend for supplements (45,618 units sold), cough and cold medicines and PPEs as communities and healthcare workers sought preventative measures as the pandemic took hold of the world. Fortunately this allowed us to get ahead of the impending disruption and sustain distribution to our members.
Our resilience in the midst of a global pandemic led to rapid growth rates in sales and Shelf Life membership subscriptions, with Nigeria's memberships increasing by 47% and Kenya’s by 65%. Distributing a total of 586,950 units of medicines and other essentials, and the delivery of 1,000 unique products, spanning across 63 product categories to Shelf Life member pharmacies.
Building on a solid foundation
Our expansion across Nigeria and Kenya comes at a time where recognition and investment into the industry is thriving. It has been predicted that the digital health industry within Nigeria is expected to reach a revenue volume of over US$1.3bn by 2025, with a 22.31% annual growth rate. This is echoed in Kenya as the region is also expected to see a 19.97% annual growth rate, resulting in a market revenue volume of US$649.73m in the next four years.
As we continue to focus on servicing our members, we aim to surpass 2,000 pharmacies and drugstores using Shelf Life by 2022 and are looking to have 12,000 pharmacies within the Shelf Life network in the next four years.
The future is bright for Field and our expansion into new territories has served as the next step in our positive trajectory. We hope to continue being the difference that the industry needs and make accessibility and affordability to healthcare more commonplace within Africa.