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Health-tech startup Sehat Kahani raises $2.7 million in Series A funding

By Erum Zaidi
December 22, 2023

KARACHI: Health-tech startup Sehat Kahani said on Thursday it had raised $2.7 million in a Series A funding round led by Singapore-based Amaanah Circle.

The round also included Epic Angels, a female-only investor collective, Cross Fund, USAID Investment Promotion Activity (IPA), Augmentor, Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and the Elahi group, the company said.

Money dealers count Pakistani rupees and US dollars at an exchange in Islamabad. — AFP/File
Money dealers count Pakistani rupees and US dollars at an exchange in Islamabad. — AFP/File

Sehat Kahani, that connects doctors and patients online, was founded in 2017 by two female doctors, Sara Saeed Khurram and Iffat Zafar Aga, who wanted to address the shortage of healthcare access and female participation in the medical profession in Pakistan.

The company also plans to expand its operations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where it sees a growing demand for telemedicine and telehealth services. “The funding will help us hire human resources, invest in technology, marketing, supply chain management hiring human resources, and support other operations with our growth and expansion plans. We are also looking to expand outside Pakistan into the MENA region,” it added.

In response to a query about whether the company planned to obtain venture capital funds valued in local currency from local investors, it stated, “We are open to all and any funds which focus on health care and technology whether they are local or international funds.”

Pakistan has been facing several economic challenges, including low GDP growth, historically high inflation, declining foreign exchange reserves, higher debt repayments, high interest rates, and unstable political conditions. The country expects to receive the next loan tranche of $700 million from the International Monetary Fund’s existing loan programme next month, which will help boost foreign exchange reserves and avert a debt default.

“There are definite economic and political challenges but every country has its unique set of challenges to persevere through and as Sehat Kahani we find opportunity in adversity and our successful growth in the B2B market is a testament to that,” it said.

The startup says its technology ensures a virtual connection between doctors and patients within 60 seconds, and offers on-demand, at-home or on-premises laboratory services and online medicine delivery.

It caters to a nationwide patient base, including business-to-business (B2B) clients, business-to-consumer (B2C) consumers, and the underserved population in rural areas. "Sehat Kahani is an incredible health-tech story led by Dr Sara Saeed Khurram and Dr Iffat Zafar Aga. Amaanah Circle is delighted to become a small part of this incredible story," said Dr Razi Yousaf, managing partner of Amaanah Circle, a health tech fund that focuses on emerging markets.

“This funding infusion marks a pivotal moment for Sehat Kahani,” said Dr Sara. “It will enable us to develop advanced features, including decision support systems, precision medicine tools, and predictive AI models to help our patients live fully by knowing their disease better.

Dr Sara, the chief executive officer of Sehat Kahani, said the new funding would enable the startup to develop advanced features, such as decision support systems, precision medicine tools, and predictive artificial intelligence models, to help patients live better by knowing their disease better.

"Grateful to our investors for supporting our mission and championing female founders, setting a powerful example.” Sehat Kahani has expanded its corporate application into a comprehensive outpatient department (OPD) management solution, which provides cashless access to specialists, online medicine delivery, and claims management for corporate employees and their families.

The startup also runs a well-being programme for corporates, focusing on health promotion and preventative care. The consumer application, operational in over 350 cities across Pakistan, is integrated into banking and lifestyle platforms.

Dr Iffat, the chief operating officer of Sehat Kahani, said the startup had shown significant average year-on-year growth of 141 percent in the last three years, overcoming the myth that telemedicine was only beneficial during the Covisd-19 pandemic as it had seen five-fold cumulative growth in the post-pandemic era.

"This gives us the confidence to expand operations to other countries and take Sehat Kahani global as our next move for expansion," she said. The startup said it had a global network of over 7,500 healthcare professionals, and had provided more than 2.6 million consultations to date. With the new round of funding, Sehat Kahani said it wanted to accelerate bridging gaps in healthcare, empowering women in the medical profession, and expanding its impact globally.