A medical emergency inspired Mike Macharia to start Ponea, Kenya’s revolutionary health platform that has raised $4M

Abu Mubarik February 20, 2023
Mike Macharia, Ponea founder. Photo credit: techcrunch

Mike Macharia recalled driving from his house when he had a nosebleed, the second time such an emergency had happened to him. He contacted his doctor and was subsequently told to undertake some laboratory tests.

“But I think he suspected I wouldn’t take them; it was a busy day anyway. So, he sent a lab technician to my office to take samples. After the results and doctor’s review, I liaised with a pharmacy that used a rider to deliver the drugs,” he told TechCrunch.

After his medical review, Macharia saw a market gap in the provision of health delivery. He realized no platform in Kenya served as a one-stop platform for everything in health care.

“The doctors, labs, pharmacy, payment and delivery providers exist, but why are they not interconnected? I found out that nobody had attempted to combine this whole ecosystem into one; it was something we needed to do. Why not?”

This led him to start Ponea Health as a marketplace for healthcare services. The platform aggregates patients, healthcare and other service providers, including those in the payment space, according to TechCrunch. What is more, the platform makes it easy for subscribers to identify medical doctors and other health officers, facilities and healthcare packages based on needs, location and associated costs.

Once a user is connected to a physician, consultations could be done virtually or physically depending on the severity of the patient’s case. Should the physician recommend tests, Ponea connects the users to lab service providers for sample collection.

“We also have our own phlebotomists, who collect blood samples sometimes, because we have realized that we have to start controlling the last-mile experience for patients,” said Macharia.

Since launching Ponea in 2019, the platform has signed up 400 health and well-being professionals. The platform also has over 15,000 customers, making it one of the fastest-growing health tech startups in Kenya and Africa at large.

The company is targeting to reach half a million customers in the next three years and also expand to the markets in South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco. 

“We have built a scalable product that integrates easily with others because from the word go, we set out to build a platform that should work in any part of the world. This means we do not build what is available. We look at strategic engagement by allowing API integration at a global level,” said Macharia.

So far Ponea has raised $4.3 million in funding from Afya Partners, Shield Capital, Seven Seas Technologies and angel investors, including Bhavesh Shah, Herman Langen, Franciscus Olsthoorn and Kalpesh Mehta.

Prior to starting Ponea, Macharia spent time in East Africa assisting enterprises to improve their service deliveries. He worked for telco Safaricom and several East African governments.

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