Leading East African FemTech company, Kasha, share nine key lessons learnt from scaling their business with support from TRANSFORM. TRANSFORM is a joint initiative between Unilever, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and EY that provides grant funding and business consultancy to impact enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
There are a number of organisations striving to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Perhaps the fastest way is the rapid scale up of enterprises that make a real impact on people's lives in low-income countries.
Joanna Bichsel saw an opportunity to change the way that women in emerging markets get the health and self-care products they need to live their best lives, and that is why she started Kasha. Kasha is a femtech platform operating in Kenya and Rwanda, and with ambitions to be the leading femtech platform across all emerging markets.
In this article, Kasha outlines their learnings along the way, what’s worked for Kasha, and what hasn’t. Organisations are racing to achieve the SDGs and in order to do that, they are all working together to succeed.
SDG17 focused on partnerships. In order to grow quickly in the early stage, small businesses like Kasha often rely on support from larger organisations. For Kasha, linking up with the TRANSFORM Partnership set up by Unilever, the UK Foreign Office and EY proved crucial to Kasha’s growth.
TRANSFORM is about to launch a new round of funding – and has also just launched a series of reports in which the Kasha story features. That’s where a partnership like TRANSFORM can help and below are some of the key learnings from the Kasha and TRANSFORM journey.
Global health and development can be bureaucratic – and it is not optimised for the number one beneficiary: Women. Women face massive hurdles getting the health and self–care products, information, and services they need and so Kasha, a fem-tech platform optimised for women's health and self-care was built to disrupt this. Kasha was built to break through stigma and provide support for individuals across all health issues.
The public sector often focuses on life-threatening issues and the urgent need to spread the word about better health and sanitation. However, self-care is just as important to women in order to make strides in the workplace and have longer careers outside the home. Kasha sells a range of products to support the health and self-care journey.
Kasha worked with Unilever as a partner in the TRANSFORM program, both organisations are committed to serving customers at the last mile. As part of the TRANSFORM program, Kasha was able to provide a solution for Unilever product, lifebuoy soap, to reach the most rural individuals in Rwanda.
Kasha started working with TRANSFORM in 2017. As Kasha expanded to Kenya, TRANSFORM enabled them to pilot multiple different order and delivery schemes to find the most efficient option. That means Kasha has now delivered millions of product units to more than 400,000 customers.
Kasha quickly realised that they wanted to allow consumers to come to Kasha for everything; products, services and information. Women make 80% of household purchases; the more products they have, the more people they can serve and the bigger impact they can have on supporting equal health access.
The sales agents are the face of Kasha – and the eyes and ears on the ground. They distribute to the last mile in the community and receive commission if the customer orders directly. They soon learn if an item is too expensive, or if people want a different product, they understand the needs of the end consumer. Kasha’s first agents are still working with them and they are also helped with financial, literary skills and marketing skills.
Kasha ensures that information and services are provided to customers as well as products, this ensures that purchasing decisions are supported and all health needs are cared for. This is why Kasha built tools such as the nurse live chat and community forum to support customers.
Kasha’s vision is for all women in emerging markets to have access to the health and self-care products, information and services they need to live their best lives. Kasha is on a path to success but knowing what they want to achieve is the foundation of their journey.