The Innovate for Life Fund

‘We offer African entrepreneurs our 60 years of experience in the African health sector and we open up our strong network to co-develop innovative home-grown solutions for better health in Africa!’

Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa

The only health sector specific programme targeting African rooted start-ups!


With less than 1% of global health expenditure and only 3% of the world’s health workers, Africa accounts for almost half the world’s deaths of children under five, has the highest maternal mortality rate, and bears a heavy toll from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. As the population in Africa increases rapidly, while the existing health systems are not expanding, the situation will likely deteriorate. A new generation of African entrepreneurs has recognized the need to develop novel technological solutions but are faced with a lack of support for early-stage entrepreneurs.


The Innovate for Life Fund aims to invest in African health entrepreneurs to accelerate home-grown health solutions for the African market. We offer African health sector-specific support: knowledge, network and access to funding. This is combined with business coaching by an experienced fund management organization.


In 2018, the fund will offer a health specific 4 month accelerator embedding a maximum of six talented entrepreneurs. The accelerator will combine virtual and in-residence interactions at Amref Africa headquarters in Nairobi. The entrepreneurs will enjoy the support of Amref Health Africa’s facilities and their extensive health network in addition to tailored business coaching by Grassroots Business Fund. In January 2019, a maximum of three entrepreneurs will be invited to develop a partnership with Amref Health Africa, which will offer follow up support and joint outreach to investors both in Africa and worldwide.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for passionate entrepreneurs with an innovative product or service that is already in the market and aims to improve primary health care in Africa. The solution must have proven successful in a smaller setting through verifiable traction, including revenue generation, which we will support to scale. To stimulate home-grown innovation, the Innovate for Life Fund targets entrepreneurs based in Sub Saharan Africa countries with 50% of the founders being from a Sub Saharan Africa country. A health panel and selection committee will vet the applicants and their decision will be final.

Meet our 2017 Cohort!

In 2017, The Innovate for Life Fund supported an inaugural cohort of 6 entrepreneurs chosen from a total of 246 applications. Through the accelerator program the entrepreneurs were able to connect with major players in the healthcare entrepreneurship space including corporates, government related institutions,potential partners and investors thereby realizing rich a pipeline of partnerships, collaborations and funding opportunities. We are proud to present.. our “Inaugural Innovative Six”. > Download the PDF

Members of the Health Panel

The first round of selection will be carried out by a health panel. They will judge the applicants on innovativeness, impact potential and appropriateness of their products and services.

Angela Nguku

Executive Director , White Ribbon Alliance

Dr Njeri Mwaura

Senior Health Specialist , IFC ,Health in Africa Initiative Kenya program lead.

Dr. Osemeke U. Osokogu

Physician and Public Health expert

Dr. Frasia Karua

General Manager, Amref Enterprises Limited

Members of the Selection Committee

The second round of selection will be carried out by an selection committee. Their judgement will be based on the capabilities of the founder and their team, scalability and sustainability of the business plan.

Jonathan Dutton

Group Chief Finance Officer, Amref Health Africa.

Lilian Mramba

Africa Regional Director Grassroots Business Fund

Eline Blaauboer

Managing Partner Africa Tech Ventures en TBL Mirror Fund

Jaap Maljers

Serial entrepreneur in health care

Advisory Committee

An international panel of experts may be consulted by the Innovate for Life Fund team on the outcome of the selection process.

Dr Kelechi Ohiri

Managing Partner, Flint Atlantic

Professor David E Neal

Senior Vice President, Global Research (Academic) Research Networks Elsevier B.V.

Dick Sietses

Partner of Health Innovations


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What do we offer?

  • The opportunity to develop your proposition in a strategic partnership with Africa’s leading health organisation;
  • A tailor-made, health sector specific training and mentoring programme divided in two phases.  Phase I: 8 weeks, 6 entrepreneurs. Phase II: 4 weeks with the top 3 entrepreneurs.
  • In a small group of a maximum of 6 entrepreneurs;
  • Guidance of an experienced international fund management organisation;
  • Mentorship and coaching by experienced health and enterprise professionals.
  • Access to key African stakeholders in the health sector;
  • Access to an international network of donors, investors and (corporate) partners;
  • The programs will invite up to three of the most promising enterprises for discussions aimed at strategic partnership with Amref Health Africa.

Access to finance and markets

The Innovate for Life Fund supports innovative entrepreneurs towards follow up investments. To do this traditional (impact) investors and donors will be engaged from the start, via the Amref network of offices in Europe, Northern America and Canada, to follow them on their entrepreneurial journey and to invest when appropriate.


Deadline for applications: 15th June 2018
Notification to winners: By 15th August 2018
Accelerator programme: From September 17th 2018



If you have a question, please contact us at


The Elsevier Foundation
Grassroots Business Fund
Nationale Postcode Loterij

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