March 29, 2014
By Ehidiamhen Okpamen
VENTURES AFRICA – The Africa Group (TAG), a US-based boutique advisor and venture capital investor, has acquired a 25 percent stake in Telemed Medical Services (Telemed), an Ethiopian engineering services that designs health systems in Ethiopia.
With this investment, TAG will gain exposure to the continent’s fourth largest consumer market, with focus on a rapidly-expanding mobile sector.
Since its introduction in 2012, Telemed has launched innovative healthcare services including, Hello Doctor, which is in partnership with BelCash Technology Solutions PLC, Ethiopia’s leading technology provider. The facility allows patients call a short code number to access professional health services such as phone consultations, ambulance dispatch and homecare service.
Telemed’s work is geared towards optimizing and reinforcing health resources in Ethiopia, a country where the doctor-to-patient ratio is 1:30,000 and 80 percent of the population lives over 5 kilometres from the nearest health centre.
The Company follows a similar model to various developed-market ventures, including Doctor on Demand, a leading California-based telemedicine company launched around the same time.
A tranche of growth equity provided by TAG and a grant from a USAID and DFID-backed development fund will be used to increase service capacity across Ethiopia, build a remote patient monitoring system, and facilitate a major marketing campaign. In addition, TAG will provide technical assistance to buttress key areas including governance and compliance.
Founder of Telemed, Dr. Yohans Wodaje, explained that investment such as that of TAG’s, was crucial to an organisation that provides a critical service to the Ethiopian public.
“Venture capital is a crucial source of financing for start-up business like ours, having the potential of catapulting them to reach greater markets,” Dr. Woodaje said.
Elias Schulze, Managing Partner of The Africa Group, who serves as Africa CEO for Kaymu, an internet retail firm, hopes the deal marks the beginning of a healthy relationship with Telemed.
“The team, led by Special Operations Associate, Tim Burkly, worked tirelessly with Dr. Yohans’ team to complete this unique transaction and we are positioned well to scale together,” he said.
Asides Telemed, TAG is exploring the possibilities of further investments across the continent. Though Elias noted it was in no rush to complete any transactions, he made mention of opportunities currently being explored.
According to him, there is “One in Senegal (trading and advisory) and have just commissioned a study into a media and entertainment opportunity in East Africa.”