Multinational consumer goods company Reckitt has announced the public launch of its purely non-profit WiNFUND NFT Africa collection, a group of unique digital artworks that will create a community of innovators, investors and supporters to empower the next generation of African women who addressing some of the continent’s biggest health challenges.
Behind the coin is the new Women in Innovation Fund (WiNFUND), co-founded by consumer goods company Reckitt and the Health Innovation and Investment Exchange (HIEx), in partnership with the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Eco Bank Foundation. The fund aims to address two key areas of inequality: 1 in 2 people, or half the world, do not have access to essential healthcare, and less than 2% of global venture capital funding goes to women despite evidence that their companies generate higher returns. WiFUUND will unlock the potential of women entrepreneurs to address both gaps.
WiFUUND will invest directly in women entrepreneurs who are already implementing homegrown solutions to some of the continent’s most pressing health challenges. WiFUNUND is partly funded by the sale of WiFUNUND NFTs, unique digital artworks designed by Rwandan artist Christella Bijou. The collection is supported and made available in close collaboration with technology partner Tokenproof. Additional funding will come from mission-aligned donors, partner organizations and high net worth individuals, who, together with WiFUND NFT holders, will create a global community of mentors and supporters dedicated to improving access to healthcare and female entrepreneurship.
WiFUUND NFT holders will receive access to invitation-only events and be invited to participate in a mentorship program to directly support successful female entrepreneurs. Since applications opened in September, WiFUUND has received more than 300 applications from women entrepreneurs in seven African countries: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. A shortlist of candidates will be announced on International Women’s Day on 8 March. All shortlisted candidates will receive business support to help them scale, while the top shortlisted candidates will receive funding directly from WiFUUND.
The shortlisted companies include Nigerian e-health company Famasi Africa, co-founded by Adeola Ayoola. The digital health platform allows users to get free follow-up visits, automate monthly refills, access their medications, get home delivery, and communicate with medical professionals.
Another shortlisted Nigerian, Dorothy Jeff Nnamani, the founder of Novo Health Africa and a healthcare entrepreneur, is also one of the top contenders. Novo Health Africa is a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) that emphasizes sustainable healthcare services such as health insurance, healthcare financing, health management systems and delivery of community health projects.
Also applicants are Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa from Uganda, who founded Community Healthcare Innovation Lab (CHIL) to screen women in remote locations for cervical and breast cancer using artificial intelligence (Al), after being treated for breast cancer herself.
Also in Uganda, Dr. Mercy Ashaba is helping people manage healthcare costs through the fintech company she co-founded, Peleyta Health. The micro-savings and loans platform helps low-income Ugandans afford quality health care. And in Kenya, Umra Omar, founder and director of Safari Doctors, leads her team of medics who deliver primary health care to some of the country’s most remote regions.
By investing in such companies, WiFUUND will directly support female entrepreneurs to scale their businesses, expand their reach, and enable more people than ever to access quality healthcare. WiFUUND’s ambition is to replicate this model on other continents in the future.
WiFUUND builds on Reckitt’s Fight for Access (FFA) Accelerator, a program to support and scale early-stage social enterprises around the world that has improved access to healthcare for 1.5 million people in its first year alone.
Patricia O’Hayer, Global Head of External Affairs for Reckitt and co-founder of WiFUUND said, “Women-led businesses are already achieving amazing things: improving access to healthcare and saving lives. WiFUUND is an innovative model that will help entrepreneurs grow by building an engaged, global community that provides business support and financing through the sale of unique NFTs. These entrepreneurs are tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges, and through them we believe WiFUUND can transform access to healthcare for the people who need it most.”
Pradeep Kakkattil, founder and CEO of Health Innovation and Investment Exchange and co-founder of WiFUUND, said: “Three out of four health workers worldwide are women. Women on the frontlines of healthcare innovate and find solutions to challenges that plague the health system. WiFUUND is about enabling fair access to investment and accelerating women-led health ventures – it can be transformative. It’s a win-win because it impacts access to health care and builds economic resilience.”