Kenyan e-health startup Damu-Sasa, which runs an innovative end-to-end blood services information management platform, has been awarded US$20,000 in grant funding from Villgro Africa to enable it to enhance its contributions to mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
Damu-Sasa works across the entire blood ecosystem by helping hospitals source blood from donors and from each other, while also supporting screening, preparation of blood products and inventory and transfusions management.
The Damu-Sasa system also helps mobilise donors and tracks their donations, while giving them digital access to their donation history. The team works with hospitals and other multi-sectoral partners to increase voluntary donations from across the population, with the goal of delivering sufficient supply of safe blood while improving tracking and reporting of utilisation countrywide.
During 2020, Damu-Sasa has grown its presence from one hospital in one city to 132 hospitals across Kenya. The system has facilitated over 9,000 transfusions and has over 72,000 registered donors on their platform. The startup now aims to significantly grow this number through increasing its presence in healthcare facilities as well as through a newly-launched Damu-Sasa Android app.
To boost this effort, it has secured US$20,000 grant funding from Villgro Africa, an early-stage business incubator and impact investor that offers mentoring, funding and access to networks to startups in the healthcare and life sciences sector.
Villgro Africa has enabled access to healthcare to those at the bottom of the pyramid, and successfully supported 21 enterprises with seed funding totalling US$1 million. Its most recent grants were made in May, and enterprises supported by Villgro have generated revenues of US$2.2 million, touching 2 million lives.
As part of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Villgro also funded 11 innovative startups that have made significant contributions to the resilience of Kenya’s health system. It went pan-African last month.
“Villgro Africa is thrilled to support the work of the Damu-Sasa team, they are a young and vibrant company who are committed to solving this real challenge. Working alongside Innovative Canadians for Change (ICChange), we look forward to being a part of their efforts in managing safe and efficient blood donations in Kenya, and doing so using a sustainable model,” said Rob Beyer, co-founder and executive chair of Villgro Africa.
In addition to the grant, Villgro Africa will also offer technical assistance to enable the team to enhance its capacity with respect to COVID-19 blood management related capabilities while also supporting ongoing fundraising efforts.
“At Damu-Sasa, we are really excited with this partnership because it will help us address key concerns occasioned by the pandemic, improve potential blood donor numbers and hence help alleviate, to the degree possible, the perennial blood shortages,” said chairman Dr Matunda Nyanchama.