Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the heartbeat of most African nations — the principal economic force behind growth and employment. However, these businesses face tremendous challenges in keeping inventory stocked, managing logistics, and securing funding to grow. These challenges don’t just affect the business owners — they also impact the communities that rely on local shops and clinics for the goods and services that they need to live healthy and productive lives. This is where Field Intelligence comes in.
Field Intelligence, which operates in both Nigeria and Kenya, is focused on strengthening health systems in emerging markets. The startup uses data-driven supply chain management software and a highly efficient distribution service to help pharmacies operate more efficiently. In addition to distributing the products pharmacies need, Field Intelligence’s new product, Shelf Life, also gives clients inventory management, delivery, and financing services for an affordable weekly subscription fee. This model replaces conventional financing options, which don’t match the cash flows and inventory management cycles of pharmacies. Field Intelligence is our first platform fintech (PlatFin) investment. It leverages proprietary Field Supply technology as the base to successfully launch Shelf Life. At its core, Shelf Life is a subscription service that fuses financing, digital supply chain management, and advanced analytics to allow retailers to offload their inventory planning, management, and ordering. It also lets users access preferred prices and pay for their inventory as they sell it. With this process, pharmacies have fewer missed sales, more cash on hand, lower operating costs, access to more stable pricing, less waste, and effective quality assurance. Shelf Life is currently available in four major cities, including Lagos, Abuja, Nairobi, and Mombasa, and the company is now looking to scale Shelf Life across Africa’s pharmaceutical market.
Field Intelligence is one of the most robust businesses that we have seen in the market, with deep understanding and experience in the health space. We’re excited to invest in the company because they are:
Providing alternative and affordable financing options for MSME pharmacies: By operating in both Nigeria and Kenya, Field Intelligence is tapping into two of the most vibrant economies in Africa. Combined, these two countries are home to around 240 million people. Pharmacies in these markets have traditionally relied on supplier-based financing to help fund their inventory needs. Many times, this financing is inflexible, unreliable, and requires pharmacies to purchase more inventory than needed, resulting in expired stock. Shelf Life turns a very expensive and complicated process into a manageable subscription service that pharmacies can use to decrease the cost of financing while reaping the benefits of not having to pay for inventory upfront. This helps to free up cash for pharmacies while simultaneously bringing the financing cost down. As a result, pharmacies can ensure that they have the necessary supply to meet customer demand, reinvest in their businesses, and expand their operations.
Establishing a PlatFin that can leverage data and efficiencies in new areas: Field Intelligence has been able to build confidence with clients, access difficult-to-obtain data on their operations, and engage with them in a mutually beneficial way. This has helped the company build a comprehensive offering spanning financing, inventory management, and logistics. We’re excited about how Field Intelligence can use its platform to distribute additional products and services and how the company can leverage the infrastructure they built in other countries, regions, or verticals. The Field Intelligence team sees the opportunity to further provide efficiencies in financing through alternative data and has the skills to do so.
Using alternative data and business processes to better underwrite and manage risk: Field Intelligence has begun to design an underwriting process that considers many data points before onboarding a client. Over time, the team has driven down defaults while increasing client retention. By gaining deeper insights into the pharmaceutical space, Field Intelligence is making data a competitive advantage. We’re excited by Field Intelligence’s ownership and use of data, both to create value for pharmacies and to enable robust relationships with their supplier partners. In the future, we believe their data science capabilities will make them more deeply entrenched in the markets where they operate and provide increased value to their customers and partners.
Communities gain access to safe, reliable, and consistent health inputs: The fastest-growing parts of the world rely on some of the weakest health systems. In Africa specifically, small, private pharmacies and drug shops provide the majority of frontline care for 1.2 billion people. Due to a lack of financing and inventory mismanagement, 60 percent of retailers regularly run out of essential products, and 10 percent of inventory expires before it’s used, according to Field Intelligence’s customer research. These inefficiencies make it more expensive for patients to get the care they need. Through data, delivery, and financing, Field Intelligence helps to ensure the right products make it to the right shelves at the right time, increasing access to healthcare and products to those who need it most.
We’re extremely excited to have Field Intelligence in our portfolio and look forward to supporting the team not only in Nigeria and Kenya but as they grow to other markets as well.