Penda Health: Bringing quality healthcare to low-income Kenyans

Recently we started the ‘VC4Africa Booster Program,’ a unique opportunity for a select number of VC4Africa registered ventures. As part of the Booster, entrepreneurs receive feedback on their business plan, coaching and dedicated access to the VC4Africa network of investors. Penda Health is part of the first group of ventures to participate in this program. We spoke to co-founder Stephanie Koczela (second left on the picture above) who openend the first Penda Health clinic in Nairobi, Kenya, this week.

Please explain what Penda Health is all about?

Penda Health (PH) is building a chain of outpatient medical clinics focused on women’s health that will provide comprehensive, reliable healthcare services. Our company will provide investors a financial return along with the opportunity to solve an urgent social problem.  Millions of low and middle income women in Kenya are spending significant financial resources on low-quality healthcare services which is perpetuating low health indicators and keeping women and families in a cycle of poverty.  Penda Health will offer these women a caring health provider that will deliver quality care at a low price.”

Who are you targeting?

“In order for PHCs to be profitable, Penda Health will need to ensure a more sustained and consistent customer flow than the typical Kenyan clinic. Penda Health is working to ensure a high-efficiency customer flow through extensive marketing.

Penda Health aims to be the sole provider of basic health services to the women working in factories close to our Health Centres. Our marketing strategies also target Women’s Groups which are common throughout East Africa.”

What makes your company unique?

“Penda Health will bring the high quality scientifically proven methods of service delivery currently available to upper class Kenyans to middle and low income Kenyans. In order to ensure that the women continue to see us as their preferred provider, and thus refer friends/family to us, we will be a reliable health provider.  In our market this means that our health providers will be in the clinics during the hours listed, our drug store will be stocked with genuine drugs, and we will have the necessary equipment to provide our core services in functioning order at all times.

We will focus on ensuring our providers are friendly, welcoming and non-judgmental of our clients. This is particularly crucial in a market where providers are viewed at best as rude and at worst as outrageously judgmental in a country already infamous for being religiously and socially conservative. Our focus on extensive health education as well as healthcare provision also increases women’s confidence in our capacity to care for them.”

What is it like to set up a health company in Kenya?

“We’ve found it to be pretty easy!  Starting any business is challenging as far as hiring the right people and then making sure they deliver in a timely fashion, but Kenya is a really great place to start a business.

In regards to starting a healthcare company specifically, there are a few challenges.  One, it can be challenging to access people’s skill level prior to hiring them. With such a small clinical staff each clinical hire is critical to business so we need very strong performers.  And two, it can be hard to understand the exact regulations in the market.  The rules around who staffs health clinics in Kenya and what exact equipment is necessary vary tremendously depending on who you ask. This can lead to a bit of confusion.”

Can you tell us about your team and their expertise?

“Nicholas Sowden is a serial entrepreneur and knowledgeable health marketer in Kenya from his time with Jacaranda Health and ToughStuff Solar. Beatrice Ngoche is a health professional and community organizer with Simama Pamoja.  She conducted research on the healthcare system in Kenya from 2005-2006. Dr. Job Makoyo served as the Clinic Services Manager in the IRC’s refugee camp in Dadaab, helping to develop a medical program that leveraged refugees as Medical Aids.

And I managed the global field support team for Kiva Microfunds. I’ve spent five years of working with social enterprises in Mathare Valley, a large slum outside Nairobi.”

How much money do you need and why are you raising the money you want to raise?

“Penda Health will raise $150,000 in this bridge round of financing. This will allow us to prove the core assumptions of our business in Nairobi.

Our major targets are:

– 660 customers per month – above the positive cash flow mark of the clinic.
– Cash flow positive Health Centre
– 50% of Penda Health Group Visit costumers visit our clinics within 3 months of their Group Visit
– Opening the 2nd Health Centre
– 5 year expansion plan fully developed

In order to achieve these milestones we will need $50,000 for hardware costs and $100,000 in working capital.”

What are your goals for 2012?

“Our goals for 2012 are to perfect our model with our first clinic and open a second clinic.”

How can VC4Africa members reach you?

“They can contact me via my VC4Africa profile or call us via the numbers on our website.”