The road to achieving Universal Health Coverage in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa has and will always be challenging unless there is a change in approach while addressing the ecosystem gaps in healthcare financing. For a long time, Traditional Insurance model has been perceived as the shortest route towards achieving Universal Health Coverage but odds have proven this assumption otherwise,based on insurance penetration being below 3% in Kenya and 13% in South Africa. Many governments in Africa do not allocate enough budgets to fully subsidize health care services and this results to the National Healthcare systems being propelled through grants which pauses a challenge of how much can be achieved on improving and sustaining sufficient health care penetration especially to the poor.

With the double disease burden in the East African Region, poor people will continue to suffer in the hands of our traditional approach, unless we build a support system for innovative ideas addressing healthcare financing. Villgro Kenya supports new solutions in this sector having Impact at the base of the pyramid.Currently,Villgro has 30% of the portfolio as micro-insurance in Kenya and Uganda and with a potential to replicate the solutions in other pan African countries. Recently, one of our micro-insurance companies, ClinicPesa was selected in a highly competitive program by MIT D-labs. Another portfolio company,IFA, clinched the second runners up prize at SANKALP AFRICA AWARDS. Sankalp isan inclusive global development dialogue with entrepreneurs, Impact investors, corporates and governments.

The effort by the Kenyan Government on the Big 4 Agenda, governments across the continent prioritizing Universal Health coverage and efforts by the private sector on implementing adoptable solutions on Healthcare financing is clear evidence that all hope is not lost. Great private sector solutions  like ClinicPesaare providing access to healthcare financing through savings and micro-loans to uninsured low-income individuals in Uganda, by enabling its users to transfer small amounts of money to their accounts on mobile money and provide to top-up loans for medical bills and to cover the cost of Medication.Turaco is a simplified insurance and credit solutions distributed through mobile technology to uniquely solve the healthcare financing needs of emerging customers in Kenya and Uganda and Insurance for All (Afya Poa),an affordable product by combining savings,Insurance and loans for healthcare mainly focused to workers in the informal sector commonly referred as “Jua Kali” in Kenya.

We need entrepreneurs to be more deliberate on understanding the market by focusing on key areas:

Understanding their market niche by profiling customers’ economic activities and income levels.
Understand how they can leverage on bundling their products and the existence of other players in the ecosystem to offer more value for less money.

If we are deliberate in understanding the market need, economic ability of our customers and positioning our solutions strategically to thrive in the existing ecosystem,Villgro Kenya will get better solutions to support in healthcare financing and Universal Health Coverage will be achieved.

By Gibson Muriuki - Villgro Kenya Incubation Program Manager