African start-ups 
are developing novel solutions to bring high-quality health products closer to where patients are, at affordable prices

Investing in Innovation (i3) is a pan-African initiative to support the commercialization and impact of 60 promising early & growth-stage companies with grants & access to markets support.
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African Health innovators have shown capacity to leverage technology to optimize supply chains and solve critical challenges of availability, accessibility, quality, affordability and visibility of health products in Africa.

i3 is supporting companies who offer data-driven distribution of medicines, consumables, medical devices, assistive technologies, and medical waste in African health care systems.
i3 is sponsored by a global network of industry leaders, and donors who 1) facilitate the systematic deployment of grants to selected startups, and 2) help establish access to market mechanisms to connect selected startups to customers who can drive their impact at scale. i3 seeks high-potential startups who can help transform the availability, accessibility, affordability, quality and visibility of health products at scale – creating health impact and prosperity.

i3 seeks to advance access for startups traditionally excluded from funding and support, including women-led companies and founders in Francophone Africa.
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Meet us at an event near you

Each year, we host a number of events around the continent. The best way to meet and get to know us, is by joining one of the many events we have coming up.

Testing a new approach to enhancing health product distribution innovation in Africa

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A unique network of 
Sponsors collaborate 
to support companies
in the cohort

A unique coalition of donors, to provide risk-tolerant grant financing; major industry players, to provide market access and partnerships that enable scale, and African institutions, to provide development support in understanding and engaging with policy, regulation, and governmental institutions
I3 is operationalized by:
We are pleased to operationalize this program with leading operational partners across North, West, East and Southern Africa.
I3 is coordinated by:
  • African health innovators have shown increasing capacity to leverage technology to optimize supply chains and advance access to medicines. Such local innovations have the potential to change how supply chains and health systems function – and it is time to support them. We are pleased to be collaborating with strong global and continental partners to jointly strengthen African health systems, and accelerate progress towards universal health coverage.
    Cheikh Oumar Seydi, Director, Africa, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • There has been considerable progress in tech-driven innovation in health product distribution across Africa. Spurring and scaling disruptive innovation in health supply chain is key to expanding access to medicines for all. That’s why we, at MSD, are excited to collaborate on the I3 program.
    Dr Sheriff Abdullahi, AVP, Global Market Access, Sustainable Access Solutions, MSD.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the capacity of African innovators to leverage tech-enabled solutions to transform medicine distribution. AUDA-NEPAD will continue to leverage its mandate and comparative advantage to foster partnerships that strengthen evidence, deploy innovation, enhance policy environments and facilitate critical investments, while creating valuable and high-impact jobs across the continent.
    Dr Janet Byaruhanga, Senior Program Officer – Health, AUDA NEPAD.
  • Africa is often seen through the lens of problems, struggles, and poverty. But embedded in much of the continent’s struggles is immense opportunity. By identifying and supporting market-creating innovations in Africa, the I3 program seeks to unlock tremendous value in healthcare supply chains across the continent.
    Efosa Ojomo, Global Prosperity Lead, Clayton Christensen Institute; 
    Co-author, The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty.
  • Healthcare supply chain innovators offer an unprecedented potential to overcome the hurdles of affordability, availability, and greater convenience for patients in Africa. At a time when global supply chains are so much in focus, and the use of data and digital technology is creating new business models to serve historically underserved markets, innovators in healthcare supply chains need to be the vanguard, not followers.
    Prashant Yadav, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development and Affiliate Professor, INSEAD.
Asked Questions
Who can apply for i3?

I3 applicants must be:

  • Early-stage and Growth-stage tech-enabled businesses owned or operated by African Nationals, and with a legal presence on the continent.
  • Businesses focused on tech-enabled product distribution with validated proof of concept, recorded revenues and demonstrable potential for growth.
  • Demonstrable potential for social and societal impact.
What is the deadline for Applications?
  • Deadline for application for 2023 cohort is June 26th, 2023.
Can I make more than one application?
  • Yes, you can make more than one application provided they are for separate businesses or ventures, if you are involved in both.
  • Please do not submit more than one application for the same business.
Can I apply for ideas / planned businesses?
  • No, the i3 program only accepts businesses with products/services, and customers.
  • The more evidence you can provide to demonstrate the impact of your products or services, the better your chances of being selected as part of the cohort.
What will it cost me to apply for i3?
  • There is no fee required to apply for the i3 Program. All you need to do is complete the application form, enclose the relevant supporting documents, and answer any questions we may ask during or after submission.
  • If you are shortlisted, you will need to set out time to participate in our due diligence process prior to final selection.
Who can see the information I submit during application?
  • All information submitted may be seen by the i3 program team which includes judges and assessors. All members of the program team are bound by confidentiality agreements.
  • We will retain application materials of applicants (including applicants who are not selected) for up to two years.
Can I apply again if not selected?
  • Yes, applicants who are not selected may apply to join later cohorts provided they meet the eligibility requirements at the time.
What publicity will there be about my application?
  • Your application will be strictly confidential, shared only with members of the i3 team and under confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with selection committees.
  • If you are shortlisted or selected for the program, we ask you to not publicize this fact until a date set by our communications team. Once companies have been admitted to the program, i3 may publicize your involvement through communications channels including but not limited to the program’s website, websites of program partners, social media platforms of program partners as well as other public communications channels.
My company is not a health tech supply chain startup per se, but we address some of the supply chain issues faced on the continent. Are we eligible to the program?
  • If you believe your  products / services contribute to bringing quality health products closer to African users at an affordable price point, we suggest you apply to the program and put emphasis on synergies between i3 and your value proposition.

My company ownership structure is not African but the company is registered in the region and operated by team members from African countries. Are we eligible to the program?
  • Eligible organizations will be Africa-led, operated and owned. We define this as having an African national with long-term control and management of the business, an equity stake, and an active role in both strategic and day-to-day decision-making. The organization does not necessarily need to be headquartered in Africa. Non-profits, consultancies, intermediaries, and consortiums are not eligible.

Can you provide more detail on the due diligence process prior to final selection?

Key components of the questionnaire include:

  1. Company Registration or Incorporation Information: This contains incorporation/registration details, address, primary contact persons of the company and their contact details - Supporting documents: Certificate of incorporation; and Memorandum and Article of Association (MEMART) or its equivalent.
  2. Details of the management team: Details of senior executives on the management team of the company, their roles, contact details, email addresses and links to their LinkedIn profile.
  3. Financial management and accounting systems: brief descriptions of the company’s financial management and accounting systems, existing policies and controls in place for tracking financial transactions; and brief information on experience with managing donor funds.
  4. Ethical conduct/legal proceedings: Details on previous or existing legal cases including fraud, bribery and corruption as it relates to the company or members of its management team.
  5. Certification: Completed and signed statement validating the authenticity of all information in the due diligence form; Confirmation of no direct and/or indirect involvement in any form of fraud, bribery, corruption and financing of money laundering and terrorism.
Our project seeks to implement a tech-enable solution including an e-commerce platform and app. However, this is at an early/ideation stage, does it still qualify for the grant funding?
  • To be eligible to the program, the startup must be in the early or growth stage as defined below:

  1. Early-stage – You must have clearly defined your market, validated customer demand, developed a working prototype and product map and begun to generate revenue, with a strong plan to scale and sustain growth.
  2. Growth Stage – You must have strong, well-defined revenue model, sales, and operational capabilities. Your Products and service must be primed to scale, and customer acquisition costs must be declining. You must have evidence of customer acceptance of your products (reflected in sales volumes, beyond early adopters).
  • Nascent/idea-stage companies or mature companies (e.g. mature incumbent distribution businesses) are not eligible.
Our company has gone to substantial lengths to get to where we are now. However, we haven't started generating revenue as we need proper funding for marketing our product. Does our lack of revenue make us ineligible?
  • While the absence of clear revenue data will not result in an automatic disqualification, applications will be required to provide evidence on validated customer demand and a developed a working prototype with a strong plan to scale and sustain growth.

Testing a new approach to enhancing health product distribution innovation in Africa

Join the program