Today more than ever before, Africans suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Demographic growth and changes in lifestyles, particularly in terms of urbanization and eating habits, are important factors contributing to this sharp increase.
This is not a problem in developed markets because health systems evolve over time to provide adequate health care when needed. But in Africa, this is not the case, as most people do not have access to quality health care due to under-equipped hospitals and lack of insurance.
Health tech startups across Africa, like those based in Ivory Coast and France Susu are mobilizing to fill this need. And with the aim of continuing to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to its customers in Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon, the Ivorian startup benefits from $1 million in pre-seed funding.
THE The capital raise saw participation mainly from angel investors, with the company also raising $1.2 million in debt and grants from BPI Francethe French government’s public investment bank.
“My father died in 2017 from a heart problem in Benin and could not be saved. The health issue was a complication of his hypertension that was poorly managed,” Bardet told TechCrunch in a call. “At that time I was finishing my MBA at HEC Paris and the goal I set for myself was to try to prevent this from happening to other people, maybe it will be something good that I could do in my life. » This is how the story began.
After working at a luxury firm, as an investment banker at JP Morgan and in her own consulting firm, Bardet decided to create Susu in 2019.
Susu offers care packages or packages for patients suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension and pregnant women who require attentive care to ensure their condition is monitored and get preventative advice to live best with it. their condition.
According to some reports, the health insurance penetration rate is less than 3% in Africa. While incumbents and new entrants such as CarePay and Reliance Health attempt to make insurance easily accessible to the rest of the market through partnerships with companies or by allowing weekly or monthly subscription fees, users are still required most of the time paying out of pocket.
This is where Susu tends to be different. In addition to allowing patients to finance their bills, Susu offers a group financing solution where family members living locally or in the diaspora can also help patients finance their monthly subscriptions via care packages. Care packages are essentially medical calendars consisting of doctor consultations, nurse visits, medical advice sent via SMS, and a combination of other medical activities for patients.
“A survey we conducted showed that family members are used to and willing to help and support their sick loved ones. So this is something that is already being done today, let’s say informally in our countries,” the CEO said of the company’s strategy to allow patients’ family members to pay for health care for their loved ones. “So those are the possibilities and we are looking at the possibility today of having NGOs or government funded programs contribute to the bundles, but that is long term.”
With this model, Susu faces new competition from companies like Fleri, backed by Techstars. The U.S.-based company allows immigrants to send money directly to services their families need back home. However, Susu’s approach is quite unique, Bardet says. According to her, the company targets only insurance, not a set of services, and offers a financial escape to those who cannot afford it.
The product seems to have found its audience with its clientele of 5,000 people, which was multiplied by 5 last year. Revenue also increased by more than 400% in 2021, the company said.
“I have been following Susu since the start of the project. And I see its enormous potential, focused on creating a solution to provide access to affordable healthcare in Africa through technology,” said Christopher Neves, one of Susu’s angel investors who has several years experience working with multinational insurance companies.
Susu intends to expand its team and introduce new features with its recent funding. Bardet also said the company would launch its services in six other sub-Saharan African countries, including Nigeria and Ghana.