Investments

Pakistan’s Dawaai raises seven-figure investment for its online pharmacy and healthcare platform

Dawaai, a Pakistani online pharmacy and healthcare platform has raised investment from the country’s leading VC Sarmayacar, London-based Kingsway Capital, and San Francisco-based Mentors Fund, Sarmayacar announced today in a statement to MENAbytes.

The statement did not disclose the size of the investment but we’ve confirmed that it is a seven-figure (USD) round with Sarmayacar being the largest investor in it.

Kingsway Capital, the statement points out, has previously also invested in Pakistani real-estate startup Zameen’s parent company Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG). They’ve also invested in some other startups of the region including Jordan’s Mawdoo3 and Egypt’s BasharSoft.

Founded in 2013 by a former investment banker Furquan Kidwai, Dawaai was one of the first of its kind platforms of the country to digitize the pharmaceutical logistics in Pakistan. The startup today operates an online pharmacy targeting both businesses (retail pharmacies, medical stores, and other businesses) and individuals selling medicines, medical equipment, and personal care and fitness products all over Pakistan. Dawaai, according to its website offers free shipping of orders above PKR 500 ($3) across Pakistan.

For prescription medicines, the users are required to upload their prescriptions using the app, website or share them over WhatsApp with a Dawaai representative.

The Karachi-headquartered startup that sources medicines directly from manufacturers and ‘established distributors’ claims to have grown over 6x in scale in the last twelve months.

“The increased scale has also appealed to manufacturers who previously struggled to have their products reach far-flung areas of the country, which in turn has helped Dawaai win more attractive terms from manufacturers. The challenge for Dawaai, it appears, is not the addition of customers rather ensuring efficient logistics and sufficient inventory supply to fulfill orders from across the country,” noted the statement.

Dawaai that allows customers to order medicines and other pharmaceutical products through its website or mobile app also allows them to order different lab tests online including Covid-19. The lab tests are apparently being offered in partnership with different laboratories and hospital which offer home sampling service.

The startup due to the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) is delivering insulins for half price for patients in low-income localities with a valid prescription from govt hospitals and providing in-app doctor consultations for free.

The statement points out that Pakistan’s pharmaceutical market is estimated to be at least $3 billion in size and growing at a double-digit rate, “Despite its size and growth, the sector remains extremely fragmented with incumbents including a handful of regional chains and a large number of single-location retail players reliant on an inefficient and expensive supply chain riddled with counterfeit products. Dawaai instead sources products directly from manufacturers and established distributors to ensure authenticity and subsequently fulfills demand aggregated across the country through its managed end-to-end logistics function.”

Furquan Kidwai, the co-founder and CEO of Dawaai, speaking to MENAbytes said that they plan to use the investment to further strenthen their infrastructure – supply chain and logistics for pharma, underpinned with deep usage of technology to derive economics out of it.

In a statement, he said, “Healthcare should be accessible and affordable for everyone, and to make that happen we are setting up the infrastructure, supply chain, and logistics. The way consumers access essential items is changing fast and we expect the same trend with their healthcare needs. Dawaai is positioning itself to lead the charge on fulfilling that customer demand.”

“With the capital we have raised and support of partners like Sarmayacar and Kingsway, we are focused on driving scale in the most capital-efficient manner and ushering Pakistan’s healthcare system into the new era,” he added.

Rabeel Warraich, the founder and CEO of Sarmayacar, said, “Moving pharmaceutical products across Pakistan comes with logistical challenges, impacting margins in a price-controlled market. This creates the opportunity for a parallel counterfeit market to thrive as consumers cannot access affordable and authentic medicines. Dawaai, in our view, is tackling these very real pain points – by aggregating demand across the country and managing logistics end to end, customers now have a company that will bring authentic drugs direct from manufacturers and distributors to their doorstep.”

“We believe Pakistan is quickly moving through its digital revolution and an increasing proportion of its population, much like other developed countries, will buy its drugs online in the years to come. We have absolute conviction in Furquan being the leader that will make Dawaai the protagonist in that transformation across Pakistan and beyond,” he added.

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Lahore, Pakistan. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.
Zubair Naeem Paracha
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