The potential for Assistive Tech in Africa

Rhys Williams, Bethany Kanten
Sept. 24, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there are over a billion people in the world right now who need Assistive Technology(AT). 90% of them currently live without it. This estimate is predicted to rise to 2 billion by 2050 [1], with no evidence that access is increasing. Poor availability of AT is most significant in low and middle income countries (LMICs), where 80% of the world’s disabled people live [2].

A big problem to solve also means a big opportunity. When we look at the market value of different AT domains, we are not dealing with small industries. The eyewear market is worth approximately $130 Billion [3], hearing aids are worth $6 billion [4], and prosthetics at $1.3 Billion, and growing at 3% each year [5]. Therefore, there is already a strong financial performance in the AT sector, with significant potential for growth. For a more detailed review of AT, our blog introduces the sector in more detail.

To unlock the growth potential of AT, we are looking for companies who provide solutions in affordability and distribution which could be applied to assistive technologies.

What we are looking for:

We are looking for companies who can enable affordability and distribution of assistive technology in Africa, two of the key challenges to scaling access in LMICs.

Companies who can enable financing or other affordability solutions for AT in Africa

  • Are you a financial service provider or MFI interested in providing financing for AT?
  • Are you a company that finances other types of assets, and interested in adding AT to your suite of products?
  • Are you an insurance provider looking to help customers access and afford AT?
  • Are you an employer looking to help your employees access and afford AT?

Companies who can better enable last mile distribution of AT in Africa

  • Are you a company already operating in the healthcare space with a distribution model that reaches low and middle income populations?
  • Are you an eCommerce or last mile distribution company who wants to distribute AT to end users?
  • Are you another type of distribution or logistics company who is already distributing AT in some capacity?

For more context about the types of technologies within assistive technology and a summary of some of the key challenges of provision of AT in LMICs see below.

Who we are

A typographic logo which reads ‘Assistive Tech Impact Fund’. ‘Assistive Tech’ is bold, with Impact Fund underneath.

We are a grant-funded investment vehicle and scale studio and provide our portfolio companies with grant capital and venture building support. We support AT companies who are looking to scale in Africa and focus heavily on supporting the design and testing of business models for sustainable growth.

As well as AT provision, the Fund is interested in innovation across the value chain of AT, which means we are interested in startups/SMEs that already, or could, provide solutions to improve the production, distribution and financing of AT across the African continent so everyone can benefit from it..

The AT Impact Fund has been launched out of the UK Aid funded AT2030 programme led by the Global Disability Innovation (GDI) Hub. The AT Impact Fund is a collaborative initiative between GDI Hub and Brink, and supported by Catalyst Fund as a venture building partner. Together, we provide a unique combination of proven expertise in AT, innovation, and venture building in Africa.

Thank you to Maelis Carraro and Tamara Giltsoff for editing.