Goodlife’s growth is helping consolidate Kenya’s retail pharmacy industry, expanding high-quality health provision throughout East Africa. © Goodlife
After the 2013 Westgate mall terrorist attack in Kenya, Mimosa pharmacies—a chain of four locally founded stores—began struggling financially as its largest store was destroyed. Mimosa caught the attention of officers at Catalyst Principal Partners, an IFC-sponsored private equity firm, which created a plan to develop a new chain with local partners. But the financing wasn’t quite there yet.
Most of Kenya’s pharmacies are unlicensed, and there are few nationwide chains. Fragmented distribution networks result in higher drug costs for consumers as multiple wholesalers mark up prices. Further, counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals is a serious health risk.
IFC wanted to help improve the market by investing in high-quality retail pharmaceutical provision. An initial investment of $4.5 million, in conjunction with an additional primary capital infusion from Catalyst Principal Partners, supported the growth of the company—re-branded Goodlife Pharmacies. The investment helped create hundreds of jobs and provide good quality pharmaceutical products to thousands of Kenyans. The success of IFC’s investment was clear by late 2016, when Goodlife was acquired by Leapfrog Investments—another IFC investee—for $21 million. This was the biggest-ever investment in the East African retail pharmacy sector. Today, Goodlife is East Africa’s largest pharmaceutical retail company.
IFC announced in January 2018 a second investment, of $3 million, in Goodlife to help expand the number of outlets from 32 to over 100. Stores will open in areas that do not have pharmacies with licensed providers and pharmaceutical products, in addition to mall locations.
Goodlife’s growth will ultimately serve over 5.5 million customers and employ additional skilled pharmaceutical workers. This is a pivotal step in the consolidation and formalization of the region’s retail pharmacy industry, broadening the reach of high-quality health provision throughout the area.
Goodlife has set a new national standard for convenience as well as quality. The company has opened pharmacies in high-traffic retail centers, gas stations, and near health clinics to make it easier for a wide variety of consumers to access the products and services they need. Its technology and software systems, new to the East African pharmaceuticals market, allow store employees to offer tailored, individualized service via records that include patients’ medical histories, drug interaction alerts, and expiration dates. Notices of required refills are delivered automatically through text messages.
This is a new way of doing business, and Goodlife is encouraging other pharmacies to improve their own standards as it puts best practices into place.
Goodlife has also helped fill a skills gap in Kenya’s pharmaceutical sector. To develop professionals who add value to each customer interaction, Goodlife offers pharmacists and staff an in-house training program. This enhances their expertise alongside corporate capacity in a way that will benefit employees’ careers as well as the people they serve.
The company has created more than 700 jobs since it was founded, and approximately 400 of its employees are pharmaceutical professionals.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, IFC invests in private health service providers, life sciences such as pharmaceutical production, and distribution, diagnostics, and laboratories. Our active health portfolio totals about $112 million in the region.
For more information on IFC’s work in health care, visit www.ifc.org/health.
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Published in February 2018.