Kenya’s Totohealth raises $60k to fund expansion

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Kenyan startup Totohealth, which uses SMS technology to help reduce maternal and child mortality, has raised US$60,000 from a number of investors in order to expand its operations in Kenya and scale to other African countries.

Disrupt Africa reported in April Totohealth was looking to raise a further US$300,000 in funding as it looks to expand its operations to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The startup’s platform has proven popular. Totohealth emerged the overall winner of the Innovations Awards at the Connected East Africa event in Diani earlier this, while more than 13,000 Kenyan parents have registered for its service.

It is now putting in place expansion plans after raising US$6,000 in funding from Indigo Trust, Spark International and one angel investor.

“Indigo’s funding of US$17,664 will be used to help the team expand their services to further counties in Kenya and also to support data verification and monitoring and evaluation activities,” Indigo Trust said.

Meanwhile, Totohealth has also announced the launch of two new products – Totobox and Totopack – which aim to take advantage of the market the SMS product has created. Totobox is starter pack containing all the essential items a mother needs after she has delivered, while the Totopack contains items to ensure a safe and clean delivery.

Malele Ngalu, marketing director of Totohealth, told Disrupt Africa previously the idea for Totohealth had emerged when one of its co-founders – Felix Kimaru – spent some time volunteering in the maternal sector.

Ngalu said Kimaru had realised that many interventions were happening far too late to have any chance of improving medical conditions amongst parents and children. Totohealth was thus born, with the co-founders building a platform able to advise parents on what signals to look for at certain times for certain illnesses, all the way until a child’s fifth birthday.

“We were able to develop a platform to enable a parent to monitor the pregnancy and the health of the child,” Ngalu said.

The Totoheath platform sends mothers two SMSs each week – one tailored towards the health of the child and another towards the health of the mother – with the information contained dependent on the specific part of the cycle the parent is currently in.

“For example when a child is one year old we talk about flat foot, so we say if your child’s ankle is bent inwards it could be flat feet,” Ngalu said.

Parents then respond “yes” or “no” as to whether they or the child are exhibiting the symptoms detailed in the SMS, with Totohealth then able to act on that information.

“We have a full-time medical doctor, it comes into a central health desk. We partner with organisations within the maternal space, and hospitals and health depositories, where we register the mother. And we refer them to a particular doctor at a particular hospital,” Ngalu said.

Totohealth currently has six partner organisations in six counties, having just launched in Garissa, and is in the process of finalising its launch in Mombasa.

Source: Disrupt Africa 19 June 2015