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54Gene to Focus on Genomic Research as CEO Quits

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54Gene

By Adedapo Adesanya

Following the announced exit of Dr Abasi Ene-Obong as CEO of 54gene, a Nigerian health tech company, the company says it plans to restructure its business across a number of departments and geographies.

The company CEO’s resignation is coming after the announcement of the second round of layoffs on the back of the laying off of 95 employees as revenue from COVID-19 testing dwindled in August.

54gene’s General Counsel, Ms Teresia L. Bost, will take over as interim CEO, and Dr Ene-Obong will continue to support the company as Senior Advisor and remain on 54gene’s Board of Directors.

“Teresia and Delali bring decades of experience in building and scaling high-impact global pharma companies, and they also have deep insight into the workings of 54gene. I am excited to see them take the company to its next phase,” Dr Ene-Obong said.

It was not disclosed why Dr Ene-Obong is stepping down, but the company’s recent struggles are likely to be a contributing factor. After the recent layoff, there were allegations of financial impropriety levelled against the co-founder, which were not proven.

This announcement comes barely one month after Ogochukwu Osifo, 54gene co-founder and vice president of engineering, announced his departure from the organisation in a LinkedIn post.

Mr Osifo explained in his post that he was leaving 54gene “to pursue other interests.” His LinkedIn profile has been updated to include a new role as “Chief Executive Officer at Rayda.”

54gene says it will now focus “on its core mission of African genomics research and equalizing precision medicine.”

“Going forward, the primary focus will be on the unique genomic research the company has started by further leveraging its genomic datasets derived from 54gene’s state-of-the-art biobank, that currently houses over 130,000 unique patient samples and corresponding genomic data, all with the objective of positioning the company to make contributions to precision medicine and drug discovery. This continues the meaningful work the company has invested in, whilst de-emphasising the clinical diagnostic business line at this time,” the statement read.

In September 2021, 54gene raised $25 million in a Series B round that brought the company’s total investment to over $45M since it was founded in 2019. Investors in the company include Y Combinator, Adjuvant Capital, Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund (CAIF), among others.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

Health

Stanbic IBTC Gives Better Conditions for Healthcare Loan

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healthcare loan

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Healthcare practitioners intending to get short-term funding support to expand their operations can now do so with better terms from Stanbic IBTC Bank.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, introduced a package called Healthcare Short-term Loan, which many stakeholders in the health industry have accessed.

In order to make it easier for practitioners to access the credit facility for an improved healthcare sector in the country, the lender has upgraded its short-term loan solution within the healthcare value chain.

This upgrade ensures a flexible repayment period, with an affordable interest rate and zero collateral to enable sector players to access better financing and achieve optimal service delivery.

The healthcare loan, which now offers a longer tenor of 12 months, affordable interest rate and zero collateral, will foster more investment in the sector and enhance strategic relationships to generate new businesses.

Speaking at the Medic West Africa Conference, the Head of Specialized Sectors at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Ms Jane Ike-Okoli, noted that effective collaboration between financial institutions and healthcare organizations is key to advancing Nigeria’s health sector.

She advised financial institutions to be more intentional about complementing the government’s efforts, saying, “Stanbic IBTC has a comprehensive understanding of the healthcare industry and its intricacies. This knowledge inspires us to continue to design innovative yet affordable solutions to boost healthcare businesses across the country.”

According to her, despite Nigeria being Africa’s largest healthcare market, challenges in the health sector include inadequate healthcare infrastructure and insufficient financing.

“Stanbic IBTC is passionate about driving change, hence our partnership with key stakeholders in the healthcare sector to improve access to healthcare finance.

“We achieve this by offering flexible funding options for healthcare businesses and providers and strategically partnering with the players in the healthcare ecosystem,” she said.

“Our healthcare solutions are tailor-made for businesses in the sector who need working capital to expand healthcare operations, acquire medical equipment, facilitate medical research, and ultimately grow their healthcare businesses,” Ms Ike-Okoli added.

The Head of Coverage, Commercial Clients at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Babatunde Akindele, also stated that the newly improved healthcare short-term loan is a necessary investment.

“Healthcare is a basic need that everyone should access easily. The pandemic has increased the pressure on the health sector by revealing the urgent need to expand healthcare facilities. Stanbic IBTC has taken yet another step in the right direction to improve healthcare infrastructure and enable qualitative service delivery, which will restore the hope of many Nigerians,” he said.

The growth of the Nigerian healthcare sector rests on impactful and innovative finance solutions positioned to create a level playing field for businesses to thrive. Stanbic IBTC has said it remains committed to blazing the trail in this regard.

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Health

UK’s Aide Health Raises £1m to Tackle Hypertension, Pain

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Aide Health

By Adedapo Adesanya 

Aide Health, a London, UK-based health-tech startup, has raised £1 million in pre-seed funding.

The round was led by Hambro Perks through its EIS fund, with participation from Fuel Ventures, 1818 Ventures and APX Ventures.

In a statement made available to Business Post on Friday, the company intends to use the funds to expand its services to include hypertension and chronic pain.

Co-founded by Mr Ian Wharton (CEO) and Mr Brian Snyde, Aide Health is a digital platform that helps patients and their clinicians understand and manage long-term health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and IBD, paired with a mobile app for the patient which acts as a co-pilot through their care.

Medical professionals can use Aide Health’s platform to remotely monitor patients with chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and IBD. Patients monitored through the app can also receive medical advice.

“Like many people, I know first-hand the frustrations of trying to manage long-term conditions,” said Mr Wharton, CEO of Aide Health.

“Our goal is to give both patients and clinicians the tools and insights they need to have better conversations and make more informed treatment decisions together,” he added.

On his part, Mr Nicholas Sharp, head of the Hambro Perks Growth EIS Fund, said: “Ian and Brian’s vision and experience impressed us from the start, and we believe that Aide Health has the potential to be a hugely important tool for both clinicians and patients for managing long-term health conditions.”

Using natural language, Aide Health has short, daily conversations to help with the day-to-day management of health conditions through medicines optimisation, structured monitoring and structured education.

The service is currently being used by the UK National Health Scheme (NHS), with a pilot launched earlier this year supporting people aged between 18-75 with asthma or type-2 diabetes.

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Health

How VerveLife Brought Lagos to a Standstill

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VerveLife

As the day dawned on Saturday, November 5, 2022, there was a palpable buzz in the cool Lagos air as thousands of fitness enthusiasts trooped to the Oniru beachfront, specifically the Landmark Event Centre, venue of the VerveLife 5.0 fitness party tagged Never Stop.

Introduced in 2017 by Verve, Africa’s leading payment technology and card and member of the Interswitch Group, VerveLife has grown into a thriving platform, attracting thousands of fitness enthusiasts from Nigeria and beyond.

As the event kicked off at 8:00 am, the dancing queen, Kaffy, opened the event with an electrifying performance in celebration of Interswitch Group’s 20th-anniversary celebrations.

For several hours after, Africa’s premium band, Alternate Sound, thrilled the crowd as attendees were engaged in upbeat dance routines and exciting workouts led by a robust lineup of fitness experts – Kemen, Ihuoma Nwigwe, Isoken Uwaifo, Enoyong, Trebla, Kenyan fitness instructor Alvin Lee, and South African fitness royalty, Queen Fitnass.

In line with the VerveLife 5.0 theme, ‘Never Stop’, there was even more fun to come as other musical acts came on stage to thrill the audience. First was Crayon, who doled out his hit songs one after the other. Just as the audience thought they had had just enough for one day, Niniola hit the stage, and the hall went berserk again, dancing to several of her hit tunes.

At this point, the event was best described as an inexhaustible bar of fun, entertainment and good sweat.

The VeveLife 5.0 experience included a series of build-up events spanning over 12 weeks across eight Nigerian cities and Nairobi, Kenya and culminating in the Lagos grand finale.  Beyond the invigorating fitness routines, games and fun, the overwhelming crowd gave proof to the growing impact the VerveLife Fitness events have been making over the years.

Verve is the leading indigenous payment technology and card brand in Africa, offering simple and cutting-edge payment solutions. Through the VerveLife fitness events, the brand continues to serve as a platform that encourages Africans to maintain a healthy lifestyle through enjoyable and stimulating activities.

This year’s VerveLife fitness event has lived up to its promise of keeping Verve cardholders, and Africans fit and steering them on the path of healthy living while fostering a community of fitness enthusiasts.

Following the resounding success of VerveLife 5.0, one cannot but wonder what to expect from VerveLife 6.0!

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