Funding to expand the Shelf Life platform
Digitizing and financing inventory for community pharmacies in Africa
Increasing on-shelf availability of quality-assured medicines for patients
Nigeria, Kenya and Germany… Field Intelligence is today announcing the successful closing of its Series A funding round led by Blue Haven Initiative, with investors including Newtown Partners via the Imperial Venture Fund, Accion Venture Lab, and Sunu Capital. The US$3.6 million equity raise will fund the scale up of Shelf Life, the technology-enabled supply chain finance platform for pharmacies in Africa.
The annual pharmaceuticals market in Africa is valued at over $60 billion. For 80% of people in Africa their community pharmacy is the frontline of the health system and yet they routinely stock out of essential medicines, incur significant losses to expiry and struggle with substandard and falsified drugs. These inefficiencies cost the health system millions of dollars each year and limit access to quality care.
Field Intelligence has been a pioneer in pharmaceutical supply chain solutions in Africa. Its Shelf Life “Pay-As-You-Sell” subscription service for pharmaceutical products has grown rapidly since first debuting in Nigeria in mid 2017. The new investment will fund Shelf Life’s expansion throughout Nigeria and Kenya, as well as the development of additional services for Shelf Life clients and their patients.
Shelf Life’s pharmacy clients can subscribe to over a thousand quality-assured and price-stabilised drugs from 50 medical, health and wellness categories. Using Field Intelligence’s technology platform, Shelf Life forecasts, procures, delivers, manages, and finances each product the pharmacy has subscribed to.
Over 280 community pharmacies in Nigeria and Kenya have now subscribed to Shelf Life, making it one of the largest networks of pharmacies on the continent. It is making the business of community pharmacy less risky and lower-cost, while improving access to an expanded selection of higher-quality medicines.
Since inception, Shelf Life has maintained 96% stock availability for its clients, up from a pre-Shelf Life baseline of 60%. As an alternative to traditional inventory finance, Shelf Life costs pharmacies between 60 and 82% less than traditional loans – freeing these small retailers from prohibitively expensive capital.
Advisory support to this transaction was provided by CrossBoundary through USAID’s INVEST program funded by the USAID Southern and East Africa Regional Missions in support of the US Government’s Prosper Africa initiative.
Michael Moreland, Co-Founder and CEO, Field Intelligence, says, “We’re delighted to welcome new investors into the business. They share our vision for catalysing change in a huge and vitally-important sector. They bring deep fintech and logistics experience, which will be vital in helping us build a new generation of healthcare supply chains in Africa and beyond.”
Lauren Cochran, Managing Director, Blue Haven Initiative says, “Shelf Life is a proven platform to transform access to medicines through Africa’s private community pharmacy market. The design and development have been done on the ground in Nigeria and Kenya and there’s real experience in the team of what it takes to deliver at scale in African health systems.”
Llew Claasen, Managing Partner, Newtown Partners notes, “We’re excited about the potential for the Field Intelligence technology-first distributor business model to grow the pharmaceutical value chain in Sub-Saharan Africa, by supplying genuine pharmaceutical products, managing stock and providing working capital finance to community pharmacies.”
Michael Schlein, President and CEO, Accion, says, “Shelf Life is a powerful example of the innovative use of financial technologies to address supply chain challenges that hinder small businesses’ efficiency and growth – and ultimately affect their ability to deliver the products and services that communities need to thrive.”
Ashley Lewis, Senior Investment Officer for Africa at Accion Venture Lab, Accion’s seed-stage inclusive fintech investment initiative, adds, “Its platform increases efficiency, decreases financing costs, and establishes strong rails for transformative payments and inventory services – ultimately improving access to medicines in community pharmacies.”