Obesity and prediabetes are major health concerns in Africa and the Middle East, affecting over 40% of the population. In Egypt, 20% of adults have diabetes; the figure in Saudi Arabia is 30%. In Nigeria, 1 in 17 adults has diabetes. The issue of prediabetes and obesity is even more widespread. Yet, it’s essential to recognize that these health challenges are largely preventable through lifestyle management and monitoring.
The significance of Almouneer, an Egyptian healthtech company, in this context, cannot be overstated. The platform, on a mission to revolutionize healthcare for individuals grappling with diabetes and obesity, has secured $3.6 million in funding.
Dubai-based Global Ventures led the seed round. Other international investors, including Proparco and Digital Africa via the Bridge Fund, Wrightwood Investments — the family office of Diane & Henry Engelhardt from the U.K., and other prominent international funds participated. Almouneer has disclosed that the funds raised will be primarily allocated to support the development and expansion of DRU, which it characterizes as the “first patient-centric, digitally-enabled lifestyle and diabetes management platform in the Middle East and Africa.” The platform plays a critical role in diabetes, prediabetes, and obesity prevention and management by connecting patients with doctors and an extensive network of healthcare providers through its app.
Co-founder and CEO Noha Khater shared with TechCrunch that the seed investment will assist in attracting top talent to join Almouneer. Also, it is exploring potential product expansion into neighboring markets across Africa and the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Nigeria, and Kenya are top of mind for the healthcare company next year.
The capital raise comes on the heels of significant growth for Almouneer. The Giza-based startup serves over 120,000 patients through a network of nine hospitals and clinics in Egypt. The healthtech also reported a doubling of its business volumes and revenue numbers within the past year, according to Khater.
From ophthalmology to diabetic care
In 2017, Khater launched Almouneer as a cluster of tech-enabled clinics with a strong emphasis on ophthalmology. The chief executive told TechCrunch that she started the company based on first-hand experience as an ophthalmologist and practicing physician. In the early 2000s, Khater pursued training in the U.S. and was deeply impressed by the quality of healthcare services. Patients had easy access to all their medical data, and the communication with their healthcare providers was outstanding. The meticulous documentation of even the most straightforward medical procedures left a profound impact on her.
Witnessing this level of healthcare excellence in the U.S. motivated her to strive for similar benefits for the Egyptian population. This drive led her to establish Almouneer with Rania Kadry. Kadry serves as the CTO and brings her background in economics and social science computing to the startup.
“Most of my patients were diabetics, even as a retina specialist. And as you know, the journey of a chronic patient can be harrowing. Diabetes is a disease a large number of people have for life. And with many having ups and downs, there’s always a need for reassurance,” said Khater. “Whether in terms of connecting with the doctor, asking a question, or making sure that your data or medical records are fine. So, it was obvious that this kind of service did not exist and was very fragmented in Egypt. A typical diabetic or chronic patient would have several doctors dealing with them in different places and lose their data. So, having all this in one place in your pocket was something that was missing. In Egypt, we have gone almost 110 million; you can imagine how many people this problem affects.”
The DRU app
After operating tech-enabled ophthalmology clinics, Almouneer expanded to serve diabetes and chronic disease patients. Subsequently, it shifted from managing digital clinics to providing operational support for external doctors and healthcare providers. In this capacity, Almouneer deploys comprehensive practice management software, encompassing financial, electronic medical records, and booking systems that are all interconnected.
This change also coincided with the launch of its patient-centric app, DRU. With DRU, patients can upload their medical records, including vital metrics such as blood sugar and blood pressure. The app provides access to their most recent medical data and current medications and allows doctors to view these records. Additionally, the subscription-based app offers teleconsultation options, enabling patients to connect with healthcare personnel via chat or phone.
“We have many patients from Africa and the Middle East that come to Egypt for treatment because of two things. One is the good medical expertise here in the region—two, because of its affordability. So one of the biggest challenges when those patients go back home after getting treatment is that it’s hard to maintain contact with the doctors or healthcare provider,” the CEO said. “Even if they do, they don’t have the same care or attention they would have when they fly in. So, the app allows them to upload medical records or the latest tests. It also helps with conversations with the doctors so they don’t have to fly back to Egypt now and then for a follow-up.”
Expanding product offerings
Yet, Almouneer aims to expand and enhance its service offerings, Khater says. In the next few months, the six-year-old healthtech plans to launch patient-customized treatment and nutrition plans. Patients can subscribe to personalized plans for uncontrolled diabetes and obesity, focusing on blood pressure and blood sugar improvement. Almouneer’s revenues come from subscriptions and these customized plans. The healthtech also takes a percentage from the fees it charges doctors for referrals and is set to add marketplace revenue to the mix. The marketplace will connect patients with essential consumables such as glucose monitors, blood sugar strips, care products for their extremities, and nutrition plans.
Meanwhile, the seed investment will be instrumental in driving the adoption of the recently launched DRU app. It’ll also focus on expanding the provider ecosystem to include doctors, health coaches, labs, and nutritionists (among which it is launching the DRU app for doctors in Q1 2024.)
“Over the years, we have had the privilege of working with a stellar group of healthcare entrepreneurs who are materially improving the lives of patients worldwide, enhancing access, quality and cost of care,” Noor Sweid, Founder and Managing Partner of Global Ventures, commented “Noha and Rania are now part of this group. We are excited to work alongside them as they leverage their specialized expertise across business-building and chronic care to tackle a prevalent health issue across the Middle East and Africa. On its mission to become the lifelong companion of diabetic patients in the region, Almouneer is a unique and necessary innovation.”