Investing in African women-led healthcare businesses offer solid potential


Digital health management solution for non-communicable diseases, Wazima, the latest African female-led start-up to secure funding from two gender focused investment firms.

With 270 million patients in sub-Saharan Africa living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the female-led healthtech start-up Wazima Health (‘Wazima’) offers patients and medics a much-needed lifeline. Yet, for many African women, building a truly transformative company that changes millions of lives can involve a lifetime of battles against prejudice and misconceptions – and a long journey to securing the trust of investors.

Like thousands of African women before her, Wazima Founder, Elizabeth Adeshina, faced the challenge of overcoming an estimated $42 billion financing gap for women in Africa1 . The scale of the problem is nothing short of breathtaking – an analysis from the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab shows that only three percent of start-up funding on the African continent goes to all-female founding teams.

These statistics make for depressing reading for ambitious African women entrepreneurs – but there are also social and economic repercussions. Not only do investors miss profitable investment opportunities, but unrealized start-ups deprive the continent of innovative solutions that have the potential to save lives.

Luckily for the 270 million patients with NCDs in Africa, Wazima has succeeded in securing financing, strategic and operational support from two of sub-Saharan Africa’s most important early stage genderlens investors – ShEquity and Rising Tide Africa (RTA).

ShEquity’s purpose is to provide smart investments for African female entrepreneurs and innovators, driving inclusive socio-economic growth. Therefore, ShEquity offers women-led businesses like Wazima much more than just financing – it provides operational and technical support, and facilitates access to high-value networks. Since its launch in 2020, ShEquity has invested in eight impactful and scalable female-led and owned businesses, and each one of those business is solving a serious challenge in sectors such as agriculture/food security, energy, environment, healthcare, mobility, and financial inclusion.

RTA engages in educating and training women to become sophisticated angel investors, while offering them the opportunity to build a diversified portfolio of investments and receive mentoring from other women who are experienced angel investors. RTA has invested in more than 25 startups that are pioneering innovative financial, healthcare, mobility & consumer solutions, amongst others.

For Adeshina, gaining access to capital and operational support means that Wazima is able to make a meaningful difference to the lives of those living with NCDs, which include diabetes, hypertension, cancer, asthma, and depression. These illnesses are a growing global challenge and have been projected to be the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, more than infectious diseases.

The accepted need to improve patient care in the African healthcare ecosystem offers specialist investors like RTA and ShEquity significant investment opportunities, as traditional investors often overlook women owned businesses who have significant and relevant experience in the healthcare industry.

Challenging the status quo

Wazima was created to address what its Founder, Elizabeth Adeshina calls the ‘many gaps that exist in the delivery and quality of healthcare for patients with NCDs in Africa.’ The Wazima platform gives access to an integrated digital health solution that aids early diagnosis via Smart connected diagnostic devices, disease management, monitoring, follow-up, and continuous care for NCD patients and the wider African healthcare ecosystem. But, as Adeshina explains, building a business and securing funding took time and extraordinary fortitude.

“Wherever you are in the world, women must be incredibly resilient, persistent, and ready to adapt – we must be geared up for success and prepared to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Women entrepreneurs in Africa must deal with naysayers that often underestimate a woman’s ability to deliver.” Yet a cursory glance at Adeshina’s track record as an entrepreneur shows she has done more than deliver.

Adeshina previously spent over 12 years growing her own brand pharmaceutical wholesale business, which launched high-quality ethical and Over The Counter healthcare and pharmaceutical products across seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her work in the healthcare space also includes projects in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and with the United Nations and World Health Organization on the continent.

The growth potential

To Adeshina, her healthcare experience and understanding of the need to be able to scale Wazima go hand-in-hand. “My roots as a Pharmacist has equipped me with a deep understanding of the challenges facing the African NCD problem. My entrepreneurial experience has further affirmed that strengthening Wazima’s operational and financial foundations are critical to our becoming a leader in improving African patient care. To this end, ShEquity and the female angel investors network, RTA, will play an active supporting role in our growth.”