The Ethiopian conglomerate Belayab Group through its subsidiary Belayab Pharmaceuticals has partnered with a Ghanaian health tech startup, mPharma, that manages prescription drug inventory for pharmacies and their suppliers to launch Haltons Pharmacies in Ethiopia.
The partnership that was signed today will see the opening of two pharmacies in Addis Ababa this year. The agreement will allow the parties to provide access to a “pharmacy-in-a-box” solution where mPharma handles every infrastructure involved while Belayab will only be concerned about the consumer.
Each pharmacy will offer a consumer loyalty membership program called where they’ll get discounts and financing options to access medication.
In Africa, the pharmaceutical market faces challenges such as sprawling supply chains, low order volumes, and exorbitant prices. Through this franchise, mPharma aims to improve Ethiopia’s pharmaceutical systems to ensure people have access to the treatment they need.
Patients in the capital will be able to benefit from discounts on their drugs and financing options that can alleviate healthcare costs.
“Our partnership with Belay Belayab Pharmaceuticals Plc is a great opportunity to develop a sustainable and scalable health impact in Ethiopia by improving access to quality essential medicine that will help the society at large so that everyone can benefit from affordable and safe treatment,” said Gregory Rockson, CEO of mPharma.
mPharma is one of the well-funded health-tech startups in Africa and has raised over $50 million. The company was founded by Daniel Shoukimas, Gregory Rockson, and James Finucane in 2013. It specializes in vendor-managed inventory, retail pharmacy operations, and market intelligence serving hospitals, pharmacies, and patients.
The company, by 2018, went live in West Africa. In 2019, the health tech acquired Haltons, the second-largest pharmacy chain in Kenya, subsequently entering the market and gaining 85% ownership in the company. However, it seemed like a stretch to the Ghanaian-based company to expand to the East African country as it met several pushbacks. Rockson attributes this to the harsh nature of doing business with foreign companies.
With a presence in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zambia, as well as two unnamed countries, mPharma wants to increase access to these medications at a reduced cost while assuring and preserving quality. The company claims to serve over 100,000 patients monthly and has distributed over a million drugs to Africans from 300 partner pharmacies across the continent.
In Africa, the pharmaceutical market worth $50 billion faces challenges such as sprawling supply chains, low order volumes, and exorbitant prices. Many Africans still suffer preventable or easily treated diseases because they cannot afford to buy their medications.
This franchising is a part of mPharma’s growth plans of enabling companies to enter the pharmacy retail sector.
Belayab Group is known for bringing many international names to Ethiopia, including Pizza Hut and Kia Motors.