Africa | March 11, 2020

Field Intelligence raises $3.6 million for Africa’s pharmaceutical supply chain

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, March 11 – Africa’s healthcare systems are wrought with inefficiencies. The startup Field Intelligence is addressing the availability of pharmaceuticals with software that helps pharmacies forecast, manage and finance drug orders.

The four-year-old company has raised $3.6 million in its first round of outside capital. Leading the round was Blue Haven Initiative, the family office of Liesel Pritzker Simmons and Ian Simmons (podcast), with backing from Accion Venture Lab and South Africa’s Imperial and Newtown Partners, and a small impact investor that declined to be named.

The deal is Blue Haven’s first healthcare investment, Blue Haven’s Lauren Cochran told ImpactAlpha.

Field Intelligence got its start in 2015 as a software company managing drug inventory, rationing and logistics for Nigeria’s public healthcare system to improve traceability and minimize drug losses from expiration. In 2017, it developed subscription-based Shelf Life, now available in Kenya as well, to manage inventory forecasting and costs for mom-and-pop pharmacies, which face the same challenges as clinics “but with the extra layer of having to manage a small business,” founder Michael Moreland told ImpactAlpha.

The company provides inventory financing, allowing pharmacies to pay as they sell. Moreland says its solution is 60% to 80% cheaper than microcredit.

Field Intelligence drew interest from more than two dozen investors, including impact funds that tried to get into the oversubscribed round. This growing appetite for disruptive African tech startups has raised concerns about “herd behavior” as investors crowd around a small number of companies (see, Where to hunt for impact investments in Africa this year).

For Field Intelligence’s part, Moreland and Cochran told ImpactAlpha that the startup selected investors that would re-up in subsequent rounds. “It took a year, talking to so many investors,” said Moreland. “I wanted to do that once and then grow with those partners.”