Old Mutual’s NEXT176 invests $2 million in South African telehealth provider, Kena Health, to expand access to affordable quality healthcare in South Africa
5 May 2023: Old Mutual’s subsidiary NEXT176 is investing $2 million (over R36 million) in South African telehealth provider, Kena Health, to address the healthcare needs of under-serviced and underserved communities in South Africa. By opening its distribution channels, Old Mutual will help make this service available to the millions of people it serves.
Kena Health (www.kena.health) is a smartphone app that allows users to talk to a team of nurses, doctors and mental health professionals, as the case may need, via text, voice and video call within the app at an incredibly low price point of only R185.
High healthcare costs lock 84% of South Africans out of most quality private healthcare. As costs continue to rapidly escalate, fewer and fewer people can afford the medical scheme premiums that give them access to day-to-day cover. Furthermore, millions of South Africans who can afford to pay a little out of pocket for healthcare cannot afford to access the exorbitant prices of private sector. This situation afflicts younger and poorer people, who are new to the workforce or are struggling to find work, disproportionately. Unfortunately, this means that the country’s already overburdened and underfunded public healthcare facilities are being put under additional strain. As documented recently in the press, the situation in public sector is only getting worse. The consequence is that the South Africa’s health outcomes are poor in comparison to its peers. Kena Health seeks to address this problem by delivering basic physical and mental healthcare services that combine teams of different types of healthcare workers with proprietary technology. The way the clinical team works together, aided by sophisticated software, serves to lower the cost to the consumer.
Through the app, for R185 per consultation, any user with a smartphone is able to access affordable quality healthcare wherever they are. Consultations with a nurse, medical doctor, or mental health professional from Kena Health’s carefully vetted and curated multidisciplinary team can be performed via video call, voice call, or text, making the service accessible even to patients with limited data. Sick notes, referral letters, and prescriptions are sent directly to the patient’s phone. What particularly impressed NEXT176 was the slick user experience. Kena’s straightforward, step-by-step approach makes for a seamless user journey. Patients can receive the care they require within minutes. Flexible operating hours mean patients can receive care outside of traditional office hours where required.
NEXT176 acknowledges that unequal access to healthcare is a major concern in South Africa and is committed to addressing this issue. The company was established to make a positive impact in people's lives through six key focus areas. The first focuses on delivering fit-for- purpose financial services through adjacent ecosystems such as healthcare. Old Mutual has recognised that maintaining the status quo will not lead to significant improvements in the lives of South Africans. Rather, the solution lies in adopting technology and seeking innovative approaches to address longstanding issues.
"This is NEXT176's third strategic investment following investments into Wizzit and CoverGo, and we have a few others in the pipeline," says Vuyo Mpako, CEO of NEXT176. "We are committed to supporting innovative solutions that make a positive impact on people's lives while also contributing to a sustainable future for both the end users and Old Mutual. Kena contributes to the ambition of building around ecosystems such as healthcare to create new distribution channels for the future of financial services on the continent."
Kena Health is a South African leader in the telehealth space, both in terms of reach and the quality of the service they provide. Launched in March 2022, the Kena Health app ranks first in South Africa’s Google Play Store and third in the Apple App Store for medical apps. With over 200,000 downloads, the app is rated 4.8 and 4.9/5 on each store, respectively. Growing at a rapid clip, Kena Health has already delivered tens of thousands of consultations to all corners of the country, to all ages and to all socio-economic levels. The company’s consultations have ranged from providing a script for a gynaecological condition to a woman on her way home from work in a taxi, to serving children in Sandton. Kena Health’s roadmap includes adding a web-based solution, creating access for patients with limited space available on their phones. They also plan to add new kinds of healthcare workers to their primary care service and to partner with specialized care providers to support more complex health journeys.
“With NEXT176 leading our funding round, Kena is better set than ever to realise some of our grander ambitions to truly be part of a wholesale systems change for healthcare in South Africa," says Saul Kornik, CEO and Founder of Kena Health. "There is a real values and strategic alignment between Kena and the NEXT176 team. We expect to close our funding round quickly from here. As for our service, it feels good to be able to say that the best way to learn more is for every South African to just download it and try it. The proof of that
pudding is in the eating.”
By investing in Kena Health, NEXT176 is helping to make quality healthcare available to millions of South Africans who previously could not afford it. With Old Mutual on board as an investor through NEXT176, even more, South Africans will be able to benefit from this service and access affordable quality healthcare that was previously beyond their reach.
Download the Kena Health app here: https://kena.onelink.me/IYH1/7ebsgv55
Backed by Old Mutual, Next176 was founded to create significant impact in specific ecosystem that affect the future of emerging economies, by creating businesses that deliver disruptive and sustainable growth. We’ve pulled together a team of experienced financiers, technologists and entrepreneurs to build, invest in and partner with startups and corporates to realize this founding purpose