Healthtracka may be becoming a juggernaut in the Nigerian health technology space. But the inspiration came from the CEO's personal life experience. In 2019, Ifeoluwa Dare-Johnson – the woman who would eventually go on to found Healthtracka — lost her father to an illness that could have been treated if detected earlier.
"It became more apparent that his case was not unique," says Ifeoluwa. "Millions of Africans move around their day-to-day activities without knowing their pre-existing conditions. I knew I had to be part of the solution. I want someone to have their father and loved ones around longer."
With this desire to help people and their loved ones avoid the fate she suffered, she devised the idea for Healthtracka in 2021, an affordable and convenient way for people to get lab tests done from the comfort of their homes. The company launched in May of the same year.
"Our mission is to reverse the rise in non-communicable diseases in Africa by making medical diagnostics accessible and affordable," says Ifeoluwa. "There has been a consistent rise in non-communicable diseases in Nigeria that has been mainly attributed to non/late diagnosis of health issues in the country."
According to a World Health Organisation report released in September 2022, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people yearly, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally. Each year, 17 million people die from an NCD before age 70, and 86% of these premature deaths occur in developing countries like Nigeria. These include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Deaths from these diseases can be prevented if detected early and treated promptly. But due to a lack of access to affordable healthcare services and low awareness about the importance of regular screenings and early detection, many people in Nigeria do not seek medical help until their conditions have advanced to critical levels.
The company's objectives seemed simple in theory. But Ifeoluwa knew it would be challenging to implement.
"I planned to build a company that would stand the test of time based on its value to the country. And I knew that the foundation of every strong company is passionate and brilliant people. So I gathered as many people that fit this profile as possible, and they are why Healthtracka is what it is today," says Ifeoluwa.
Like most founders in tech, she had to start at the bottom. She also ran into the same struggles most founders in tech encounter in the early stages of building anything in a place as volatile as Nigeria.
"No one had ever done what we were trying to do, which means we were innovating and bringing solutions with no template. So we had to earn the trust of our customers and stakeholders," says Ifeoluwa. "I remember handling our customer care calls myself for the first five months to drive trust and get firsthand customer feedback. It was wild," Ifeoluwa adds with a laugh.
At the time of its launch, Healthtracka had only five tests. Now, it has grown to include more products, including but not limited to STD tests, PCOS tests, cervical cancer screening tests, etc.
Ifeoluwa is proud of what Healthtracka has become. The business raised $1.5 million in seed funding five months after participating in the Techstars Toronto accelerator program held in October 2021. She's even prouder of what the company represents. When asked what she hopes the company's most significant global impact will be, she says, "Starting in Nigeria, I want this company to make preventative healthcare culture by changing the healthcare landscape completely."
As the company's client base grew, Ifeoluwa became obsessed with the users' journey — from finding us and paying to get our service — and how to make it as smooth as possible.
"Payment is a significant and essential part of that process, so we knew we had to get it right," says Ifeoluwa. "We needed an efficient payment gateway that we could trust to hold the payments part of the business down so we could focus on running other things. So I went through Techstars Toronto and learned about Kora, a company that prided itself on being Africa's most robust payment infrastructure. We tried it out and discovered that the title is well-deserved."
"Kora isn't just our payment gateway provider," Ifeoluwa adds. "They're a partner who understands and collaborates with us to achieve our business goals. They've helped us accomplish so much and are reliable as hell. What more could a business want?"
At Kora, our goal is to connect Africa to the world and connect the world to Africa via payments. For startups and businesses working in Africa, we provide All The Support You Need ™️ to start, scale and thrive on the continent. Visit www.korahq.com to see all the ways you can thrive with Kora.