This is coming two years after mPharma bought Kenyan-based Haltons Pharmacy for US$5m, signaling the startup’s entry into the East Africa region.
mPharma acquired the 55% stake that was previously owned by private equity firm, Abraaj Group, which had folded up after issues about its administration of the US$1bn healthcare fund it had received from investors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Speaking on the acquisition, Gregory Rockson, Co-Founder and CEO, mPharma, said, “Vine used to be the biggest pharmacy chain in Uganda. At its peak, it had about 36 stores spread across the country. But with Abraaj as its largest shareholder, the business had to resize once there wasn’t any more capital available for growth. We are buying out the stake that Abraaj held.”
At the time when Vine Pharmacy was in top form, it had 20 branches across Uganda when Abraaj took over operations and executed an aggressive growth plan which entailed doubling its branches by 2018.
Abraaj also expanded Vine Pharmacy’s services to include personalized patient care via home visits, wholesale business and supplying government agencies and health institutions – all this until its collapse which led to the shutdown of several of its outlets.
Since its inception, the startup has raised more than US$50 million, making it one of the well-funded startups across Africa.
mPhrama recently struck a franchise deal with Belayab Pharmaceuticals via Haltons Limited, its fully owned subsidiary, sealing its presence in the Ethiopian market.
The Ghanaian e-health giant operates in markets such as Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and Rwanda, and set up operations in Gabon last month after it was contracted to build a drug supply chain infrastructure.
Last November, it partnered with Rwandan gas station operator, Mt. Meru Group, to establish pharmacy branches within its outlets.
It plans to continue its franchising model as it expands into new markets. This will help it focus more on building and refining its infrastructure for an easy sourcing and distribution system with aim of addressing the challenges that pharmaceutical markets across Africa face.