Kasha, a Rwandan startup, is a digital merchandise framework that provides a wide range of female health components to its clients. It has recently received a $21 million Series B fund.
The company was started by Joanna Bichsel in 2016, and serves a digital merchandise last-mile distribution framework for pharmaceuticals and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs). It has a dedicated product line aimed at female healthcare requirements and household components. Among the clients are individual clients, retailers, pharmacies, health centers, and pharmacies. Products that can be ordered through the website or USSD are contraceptives, sanitary pads, diapers, and cleaning supplies amongst others.
Kasha is a B2C company involved in last-mile dispatch of health items for females and infants. When the company was established, small retailers started ordering their products. This was all Kasha needed to identify the opportunity and create its framework. As a result, the company enters the wholesale market after being issued the mandatory license to practice their business with hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies.
Kasha now serves retail and wholesale commerce industries with products for infants’ and female health, menstrual sanitation, sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable diseases, and contraceptives.
The CEO, Joanna Bichsel said “We have always understood that women are the most influential customer in the health space, both because they have the most health needs and are decision-makers for health in the household and unlock the rest of the population. Since many health products for women are stigmatized, Kasha has purposely offered a wide variety of products, including personal care products like soap, health products like contraceptives, and household staples like rice,”
She also revealed that some of the most popular products are HIV self-tests, contraceptives, and pregnancy tests, quoting that “We have continued to expand our variety of products purely from customer demand and the needs of the different customer segments who purchase from us, including small kiosk shops, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and consumers.”
The recent Series B investment was ushered by Knife Capital with involvement from Finnfund, DFC, Tim Koogle (ex-Yahoo CEO), Beyond Capital Ventures, Altree Capital, Bamboo Capital’s BLOC Smart Africa Fund, and Five35 Ventures. Series A brought in 3.6 million dollars in late 2020 after spreading to Kenya from Finnfund, Swedfund, DFC, and Mastercard Corporate. The company’s first seed in funding was 1.5 million dollars from angel and impact investors.
Tim Koogle, former Yahoo CEO who was involved in the Serie B investment funds said “The Kasha team have proven their mettle in scaling rapidly to date and this round of capital will help to accelerate that”.
Presently, Kasha has ventured into South Africa using the funds to advance its platform in South Africa and having its eye on West Africa later in the year.
Kasha has abilities centered around telehealth and credit which is a major attribute of B2B online startup as stated by the CEO, who worked several years for Microsoft and was an innovation adviser to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She explained that “Our core strategic focus is in the area of health and that’s where we aim to win. If a consumer orders from us and they don’t have a prescription, we connect them to a doctor,”.
“There are other health tech capabilities; we offer inventory credit to pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals. So, we overlap in that general FMCG space, but our expertise is more in health. We also build a broader distribution network, reaching the mass market customer around the country and going to the last mile.”
To maintain the quality of its products, Kasha deals uniquely with the producers and vendors, collecting and warehousing the goods it distributes to customers, retailers, and clinics. This aligns with its last-mile ability to utilize different content routes to spread figures on how its customers can stay guarded — and to add value to its commercial venture, where it creates awareness to international health institutions in route to commercial programs.
“In the current economic climate, it is refreshing to come across such a high-growth capital-efficient business that is female-led and optimized to serve the large mass market segment in Africa, being especially strong at serving women customers. We look forward to being a partner in the Pan-African expansion journey with this purpose-driven dedicated team” as expressed by Keet van Zyl, co-founder and partner at Knife Capital, a $50 million Pan-African fund.
Kasha has been making yearly recurring growth by 50x ever since it closed out on Series A in the late 2020s as revealed by the CEO. She went on to say that the company was mistaken as a social impact organization in its beginning. However, she praised her team saying they are dedicated to sustaining the growth and becoming an international organization with plans to maintain a continuous return to the shareholders and in the future take the company public.
Inasmuch as the percentage of female established and female startups is very low, just about 3% of the continent’s 6 billion dollars in business capital commerce in 2022, Rwanda’s most funded organization has surpassed expectations and is obviously on its way to a glorious future.