In some Middle Eastern countries, inequitable access to health care — alongside inconsistent quality of services, long wait times, and high absenteeism among doctors — plagues patients as much as their ailments do. The prescription? A new website and mobile app from Egyptian tech company Vezeeta that empowers patients in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia to connect to — and rate — health-care providers.
Since Vezeeta’s 2012 launch, it has helped 2 million people find doctors and book appointments — a service that is especially useful for patients in remote rural areas. IFC’s $1 million investment will support Vezeeta in its plan to expand its operations.
This is just one way that IFC’s financing for health and education companies helps people and societies thrive. In fiscal year 2019, we provided $670 million in financing, including funds mobilized from other investors. Our clients helped deliver health care to 49.9 million patients and education to 4.7 million students.
In Mexico, where diabetes is the leading cause of death and disability, we are helping Clínicas del Azúcar offer more effective care to low- and middle-income patients. Because continuous disease management is critical, Clínicas del Azúcar offers a one-stop-shop retail approach that combines multidisciplinary care teams, behavioral science, and a subscription model with annual fixed-fee payment plans. IFC’s $4 million equity investment in the company will support the launch of 100 new clinics and the development of its digital strategy. Clínicas del Azúcar has treated more than 100,000 diabetes patients since 2011. With IFC’s backing, the chain is looking to reach 2 million patients in the next five years.
Ensuring excellence among health care service providers, especially in emerging markets, motivated the design of IFC’s Health Quality Assessment Tool. In FY19, Hallelujah General Hospital in Ethiopia signed an agreement to receive this comprehensive assessment, joining a list of health providers from seven countries, including Nepal and Pakistan. The evidence-based strategy to improve operations will include recommendations on enhancing corporate processes, minimizing patient safety risks, and making the company more attractive to international partners, such as investors and insurance companies. The tool also helps prepare hospitals and clinics to pursue national or international health-care accreditations.
Education is an equally important priority in Ethiopia, where IFC is working with Gebeya, a pan-African education technology and online job placement company, on an advisory-services program that will strengthen innovative tech start-ups owned or led by women.
The Digital Gender-Ethiopia Program, supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative and the Creating Markets Advisory Window, will help train 250 female software developers and provide seed funding to at least 20 women entrepreneurs.
In Colombia, IFC’s long-term loan of $25 million will improve infrastructure on five campuses of the Universidad Santo Tomás, which offers high-quality higher education to about 35,000 students in regions that include remote cities and conflict-affected areas.