NIGERIA – An anti-counterfeiting startup, formed at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana, Chekkit, has raised a US$500,000 pre-seed funding round to help it expand its operations within the pharmaceutical and FMCG industries.
Chekkit is an anti-counterfeiting, asset tracking and consumer feedback analytics tool. It produces tamper-proof unique ID labels, either as QR codes or numeric codes, which can be placed on premium packaged food and beverage products for supply chain and consumer feedback tracking.
So far, Chekkit has secured over seven million pharmaceutical products and protected over 200,000 consumers, working with pharmaceutical companies like Merck, Royal Star Pharma and Nabros Pharmaceutical.
The funding is to further expand its reach in this sector, as well as in the FMCG space, where it already works with brands including Indomie, Nivea and Flourmills of Nigeria.
“We are super-pumped about the future as we develop unique technological products to protect the lives of millions and also directly improve the act of doing business for several brands by learning about consumers in the largely informal African markets,” said Chekkit chief executive officer (CEO) Dare Odumade.
The startup has obtained these funds from Launch Africa, Japan Strategic Capital, Blockchain Founders Fund, and two syndicate groups of angel investors. It also includes a grant from the Orange Corners program.
One of the biggest challenges still facing the pharmaceutical and healthcare systems in Africa is fake and substandard drugs, weak regulatory environments and lack of consumer education. Fake and substandard drugs are responsible for thousands of deaths annually across Africa.
Chekkit is, therefore, tackling the scourge of fake drugs in Nigeria and across emerging markets globally. They are already working with governments to strengthen and heighten pharmacovigilance, patient education and advocacy.
The application is saving lives by simultaneously detecting and notifying consumers, manufactures and policy makers from the minute fake or substandard drugs are detected.
Last year, Chekkit signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health to help tackle the problem of counterfeit medications in the country using its blockchain-based system.
The project, which began with a three-month pilot, utilized Chekkit’s product authentication technology to track and verify all drugs sold in the country. Chekkit’s smart labels have been attached to 80,000 pharmaceutical products sold in the Afghan market, allowing for verification of these drugs before purchase or use.
Chekkit has also provided an oversight capability for the Health Ministry by providing special hand-held devices that they can use to verify the authenticity of the products at the point of entry into the country.
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