Pakistan’s Dawaai raises $8.5 million to grow its online pharmacy and healthcare platform

Karachi-headquartered online pharmacy startup Dawaai has raised $8.5 million in a round led by 500 Startups, taking its total financing to date to $10.5 million. The round is comprised of equity and debt, and included the participation of existing investor Sarmayacar and two family offices. The startup has told MENAbytes that equity accounts for a significant majority of the round. The deal also included secondaries with some investors exiting (or partially exiting) the company, generating some really good returns. Dawaai did not share the exact breakdown but told us that secondaries were a very small part of the transaction.

Founded in early 2014 by Furquan Kidwai, Dawaai sells medicines, personal care products, and medical equipment to individuals and MSMEs (pharmacies) across the country through its web and mobile-based platform. It works directly with the pharmaceutical companies and large distributors to sell authentic medicines at what it says are the cheapest possible prices. The users can order the medicines by just uploading their prescription or by adding them manually to the cart using search on the platform. For prescription medicines, a user must upload a prescription to complete the order.

In the last seven years, Dawaai claims to have served 11 million people in the country – who have used its website and apps. A large number of these users have purchased medicines using Dawaai’s platform. The healthtech currently delivers medicines in 98 cities through multiple fulfillment centers across the country. In some parts of the country, it also has its own fleet, through which it is able to offer 2-hour delivery in select areas of (Karachi and Lahore).

The startup said that it has grown its revenue by 350 percent in the last twelve months. Dawaai’s team has also grown from 15 employees about two years ago to 250 people right now. It has added members to all the functions of the company and plans to continue hiring more.

In addition to medicines and medical equipment, Dawaai’s platform now enables users to consult doctors online, receive health services (nursing, physiotherapy, etc.) at home, and book lab tests.

Furquan Kidwai, the founder and CEO of Dawaai told MENAbytes that a large number of customers who order medicines from their platform are chronic patients, “They need doctor consultations and lab tests on a regular basis and to serve them better, we’ve been adding all these services to Dawaai and would continue to add more. It is very encouraging to see that teleconsultations offered by Dawaai have grown to tens of thousands of monthly sessions in no time.”

Some of the doctors who use Dawaai to offer consultations have doubled their income, added Furquan.

In a statement, commenting on the round, he stated, “We are laser-focused on our mission to make healthcare accessible and affordable for the people of Pakistan and wider South Asia. The first step in achieving that is building the missing pharmaceutical supply chain infrastructure in the markets we operate and honing the next generation of talent to take our economies forward. This financing is enabling us to carry forward on our journey to make the lives of people better across the length and breadth of Pakistan, with a low-cost healthcare model for all Pakistanis.”

Tony Wang, the Managing Partner at 500 Startups, said, “In recent years, Furquan and his team have established Dawaai not only as the premier digital health startup in Pakistan, but as a pioneer tech company in a growing startup ecosystem. We are thrilled to continue to back Dawaai as it facilitates access to healthcare to millions of people.”

Dawaai plans to use the investment to continue building pharmaceutical supply chain infrastructure in Pakistan and further develop its technology to optimize the business.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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