Susu, a global health-tech company, focused on making healthcare accessible and affordable for every African, has completed a €2 million pre-seed funding round with angel investors. Part of the funding was also raised as debt, and grant financing from BPI France, the french government’s public investment bank .
Currently operational in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Senegal, the startup offers bundled health services that provide patients with planned, long-term health support, in order to ensure optimal monitoring of their health conditions, including pregnancy, child care, and chronic disease management.
The healthcare industry in Africa is currently facing a multitude of problems. A growing population, increased lifespan, and urbanization have all contributed to a sharp rise in the mortality of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. In addition, most people do not have access to quality healthcare and are in urgent need of solutions to manage their healthcare needs.
Susu was founded in 2019 by Bola Bardet, after she lost her father to complications of a chronic health condition due to poor management. Her experience with her father’s condition inspired Bola to help others avoid the same fate. Alongside her co-founders, Laurent Leconte (Chief Technology Officer) and Sandrine Egron (Chief Operations Officer), Bola has built the startup to serve thousands of Africans.
Studies show that the medical insurance penetration rate is less than 3% in Africa, leaving 97% of the population having to pay medical expenses out of pocket. Susu intends to mitigate this problem by supporting beneficiaries’ healthcare journeys through care bundles, while using an integrated approach to better connect the patients, their families, and the healthcare professionals.
The team offers services based on four key pillars, which include:
- Health bundles (a combination of medical and logistical services),
- Collective financing (payment for service through several contributors, whether close relatives or members of the African diaspora),
- Digital platform (connecting the beneficiaries, financial contributors and the healthcare professionals), and
- Quality medical network carefully selected by Susu’s experts.
Speaking on the inspiration behind Susu, Bola Bardet, Founder and CEO of Susu said, “ I suffered the terrible loss of my dad due to the mismanagement of his medical condition. I knew that the situation could have been prevented if he had access to comprehensive healthcare and that’s why I started Susu, to provide access to quality and affordable healthcare to others. We should not be fatalist about access to quality healthcare in Africa. Like financial inclusion is being improved with mobile payment solutions, technology is going to play a tremendous role over the next decade in providing solutions to tackle the challenges faced by the healthcare systems over the continent”.
“There is a high demand for our service, so we are eager to expand quickly to other countries. In 2021, we had a 400% growth rate in terms of revenue and multiplied our customer base by 5. On top of that, we see more family members and friends, especially those from the diaspora, wanting to contribute financially to the care of a beneficiary, so we have gone ahead to build technology that allows for several family members and friends to co-finance the service”, Bola added.
Christopher Neves, one of Susu’s angel investors and a senior executive with experience in multinationals insurance groups, spoke on the funding saying “I have been following Susu since the beginning of the project. And I see its huge potential, focused on building a solution to provide access to affordable healthcare in Africa through technology. SInce the start, Bola Bardet and her team have demonstrated their capabilities and ambition in executing such a project”.
With its recent funding, Susu intends to grow the company’s team, enrich the technology platform with new features. The startup also intends to launch the service in 6 new countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria and Ghana. It is also developing new care bundles including a maternity care bundle to reduce mortality risk for pregnant women and their babies.