mPharma Adds $17million To Its Funds And Ex-CVS Boss To Its Board
An Accra-based company startup, mPharma, has raised $17million in its latest investing round and announced the appointment of Helena Foulkes, former president of CVS - the largest pharmacy retail chain in the United States-, to its board.
mPharma is a company which manages prescription drug inventory for pharmacies and their supplies. It was founded in 2013 by Gregory Rockson, Daniel Shoukimas and James Finucane.
Speaking on the newest funding round, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gregory Rockson described it as “opportunistic” as the company was keen for the chance to work with a development financial institution rooted deeply in Africa like CDC.
CDC Group; UK’s development finance arm led this round. The company since its inception has also received funding from Dr. Daniel Vasella; ex-chief executive of Novartis, Silicon Valley investor Jim Breyer and Dompe Holdings; the family office of the Italian pharmaceutical giant.
Mr. Rockson referred to the partnership with the CDC Group as “bringing a Development Finance Institution with extensive government contacts across Africa” which would improve their “appeal and help strengthen our corporate governance because of the ESG [environmental, social and governance] rules under which they operate”.
The company hopes that with this funding, mPharma will expand its Vendor Management Inventory (VMI) system and QualityRx platforms in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
This comes after the startup raised $12 million last year and $6.6 million Series A in 2017. The total funding raised by the healthtech startup now stands at over $40 million.
Mr. Rockson revealed that after buying Kenya’s second-largest pharmacy chain, Haltons, with a portion raised from the funds last year, mPharma has expanded the number of outlets to 30 from 17 at the time of acquisition.
He said, “we had mapped out a plan for the expansion when we bought Haltons and soon paid of its debt and owed salaries to build trust with the staff, but the lockdown has cut our hours and slowed growth.”
mPharma’s CEO, Gregory Rockson with Helena Foulkes, former president of CVS
Coinciding with the recent funding is the appointment of Helena Foulkes to the company’s board. Foulkes is the former CEO of the Hudson Bay Company (HBC). Prior to HBC, she was the president of the CVS Pharmacy, the largest pharmacy chain in the US.
According to mPharma’s CEO, getting retail experience on board as the company’s retail roots deepened, had been one of his priorities and had been aware of Foulkes ever since reading a Fortune magazine about her.
“I was intrigued by the role she played in banning the sale of tobacco at CVS. This is a decision that cost the company over $2 billion in sales but was important if CVS was to put the health of consumers first,” he disclosed.
Coming on board, Foulkes said, “the mission of mPharma to make pharmaceuticals more affordable and accessible is striking. I’m interested in the different ways this young company can grow, they have their own chain, loyalty programs, there’s plenty of potential.”