Egyptian healthcare platform Vezeeta has raised new growth capital to fund acquisitions and expansion across the Middle East and Africa, as the well-funded start-up achieved profitability this year.
The undisclosed funding round was led by existing investors Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Capital and Sweden’s VNV Global, formerly known as Vostok New Ventures.
Vezeeta has so far raised around $90 million, an investor source told The National.
This support and investment will “allow us to embark on a new journey of growth, to scale our innovation to more people in the MEA region”, Amir Barsoum, Vezeeta's founder and chief executive, said on Tuesday.
The company is currently in discussions over acquisitions in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, a company official told The National.
Growth capital is typically provided to relatively mature companies to support scaling, develop new products and finance acquisitions.
Vezeeta offers doctor appointment bookings, consultations, an e-pharmacy and lab sample collection through its digital platform for more than 10 million patients across 80 cities.
It currently operates in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Nigeria and Kenya.
The company's last funding was a $40 million Series D round in February 2020. It has raised at least $73m since it was founded in 2012, Mr Barsoum said.
Start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa have seen investment levels decline this year, affected by the global economic crisis, rising inflation and a drop in tech stocks, according to Wamda.
Last month, Mena start-ups raised $173m across 51 deals — a 54 per cent decrease from August and 50 per cent lower than in September 2021, the Dubai-based entrepreneurship platform said.
Egyptian start-ups have raised a total of about $375m in the first nine months of this year, compared with $371m over the same period last year.
Revenue in the global digital health market is expected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 12 per cent over the next five years, reaching a total market value of $256 billion by 2027, data platform Statista says.
Despite a challenging economic environment globally, Gulf Capital and VNV Capital said they were optimistic about Vezeeta’s future.
“Vezeeta today is firmly positioned as the largest HealthTech platform in the Middle East and Africa,” said Alvaro Abella, managing director of private equity at Gulf Capital.
“Egypt remains a key market for us and we recently opened our regional offices in Cairo with the aim of continuing to back successful growth stories similar to Vezeeta.”
Gulf Capital has closed 37 investments since its inception in 2006 and currently manages more than $2.5bn in assets. This is the second investment round for Vezeeta that Gulf Capital leads.
VNV Global is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and has invested in Egyptian start-ups such as mass transport app Swvl, quick commerce grocery service Breadfast and recruitment technology company BasharSoft.
“With the rise of digitalisation in every aspect of the MEA [Middle East and Africa] healthcare landscape, now is the time for Vezeeta to swiftly expand its innovative solutions at scale while proactively addressing the day-to-day challenges faced by millions,” said Bjorn von Sivers, investment manager at VNV Global.
Previous investors in Vezeeta include the Technology Development Fund, Silicon Badia, Beco Capital, Endeavour Catalyst, Crescent Enterprises’ CE-Ventures, Saudi Technology Ventures and the IFC.
Vezeeta — the Egyptian colloquial term for the payment made for a doctor’s visit — started as a booking solution platform that allowed users to search for doctors, check patient reviews and schedule appointments.
The company has since added an online pharmacy and digitally managed clinics, helping it add five million patients in less than two years, Mr Barsoum said. It took seven years to acquire the first five million.
Patients can book a lab sample collection in less than two hours, order their medication and schedule home delivery in 60 minutes using the pharmacy solution.
In its first significant move towards a software-as-a-service model, Vezeeta introduced a subscription option for digital healthcare solutions to more than 35,000 doctors. It has also integrated its technology solutions in 20 clinics in Egypt.
Vezeeta said it reached profitability in 2022.
In June, the company reportedly laid off 10 per cent of its 500-person workforce. Vezeeta declined to comment when contacted by The National.