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Health SMEs in Africa to benefit from a digital finance fund


Medical Credit Fund (MCF), a non-profit fund exclusively dedicated to financing small and medium-sized healthcare companies in Africa, celebrated its first loan disbursement within MCF2 on Monday.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a catalytic investment of Ksh.900Million for the second stage of the fund.

Medical Credit Fund is established as part of PharmAccess Group, a non-profit organization working to make inclusive health markets work in Africa. MCF2 will deploy innovative digital finance solutions to increase investments in African health infrastructure and improve access to quality primary healthcare services.  

The fund will start in its current countries of operation, which include; Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, then gradually extend to other countries. The first beneficiary of MCF2 is Sori Lakeside Hospital based on the shores of Lake Victoria in Homabay County in Kenya. The hospital has received Ksh 45,250,000 from Medical Credit Fund.

Arjan Poels, Managing Director, Medical Credit Fund said “Many health SMEs have poor infrastructure and equipment because of limited access to capital. This affects the quality of care they offer to patients who visit their facilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the importance of well-functioning health systems. MCF2 is geared towards driving equitable and quality healthcare by supporting healthcare clinics to improve the healthcare they deliver.”

Medical Credit Fund (MCF) was built on the back of Kenya’s advanced mobile money ecosystem. The first digital lending product ‘Cash Advance’ was launched in 2017 and provided in partnership with CarePay – a health financing platform. Through this digital lending product, a total of Ksh.7billion has already been disbursed with a repayment rate of ninety seven percent.

Digital lending has proven crucial during the pandemic, with Covid-19 increasing mobile money use and reducing banks’ appetite for SME lending even further. Facilities risked closure and could not access banks loans to cover cash flow gaps or buy personal protective equipment (PPEs). Cash Advance was the solution due to its convenient and flexible nature, disbursing Ksh.2.4 billion in 2020 alone, and currently averaging Ksh.433 million a month in disbursements since the beginning of 2021.

Isaiah Okoth, Country Director Kenya, PharmAccess Foundation says, “Attainment of Universal Health Coverage requires a balance between enabling citizens to access care without experiencing financial hardship as well as availability of healthcare facilities that offer quality care. We are harnessing the potential of the mobile phone to improve access to quality healthcare in Africa.”

In many African countries, the public sector struggles to deliver healthcare to everyone who needs it. More than fifty percent of Africans use private healthcare facilities. Many small and medium sized healthcare companies have poor infrastructure, equipment, limited means to invest in quality improvement and difficulty accessing capital from commercial banks. 

His Excellency Maarten Brouwer, Ambassador, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kenya says, “Health and development are closely intertwined. Driving the attainment of Universal Health Coverage will ensure that all people, regardless of their social status, can access quality healthcare services. The vision of Mobile Credit Fund aligns with our resolve to empower healthcare facilities to offer quality care to all.”

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