The Finnfund has invested $1M in Kasha, the Rwandan e-commerce platform improving women’s access to genuine health, hygiene and self-care products in East Africa.
Kasha sells menstrual care products, contraceptives, pharmaceuticals and a range of beauty products via its own platform, accessible through basic phones and a website and delivered to customers confidentially. Kasha aims to be a trusted source of information especially around stigmatised products and operates in close cooperation with selected health partners.
Kasha was first founded in 2016 in Rwanda and has since expanded to Kenya. The company has served over 55 000 clients, of which 75% are low-income, and delivered close to 600 000 products out of which 275 000+ are health products.
“We are a very purpose-driven company with a strong focus on our customers. We deliver the products that women actually want and need in a way that is most private and discreet for them”, says Kasha’s CEO Joanna Bichsel. “What drives us is that we can change the way women in emerging markets get their health products. Partnering with Finnfund, we look forward to growing our presence in Rwanda and Kenya as well as expanding to other countries in Africa – and eventually to other parts of the world.”
COVID-19 – Kasha’s more relevant than ever
Finnfund started negotiations with Kasha in February 2020. “We were convinced by their strong mission and at the same time, we see that e-commerce is rapidly growing its share of consumer spending”, says Finnfund’s Investment Manager Johanna Raehalme. “During the investment process, Kasha’s role has become more relevant than ever: At the moment, they are preparing for an active role in protecting people from COVID-19”, says Raehalme.
Kasha’s CEO Joanna Bichsel confirms this: “Kasha is already serving as a safe way to get hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, masks, gloves and eventually COVID diagnostic rapid tests. Our content channels also provide access to information on how to protect yourself from the virus. In Rwanda and Kenya, Kasha is supporting the directives of the Ministry of Health, having optimizing Kasha to effectively serve as a channel for the safe delivery of COVID-protection related products, information and services”, she says. “Even data around purchases related to the new coronavirus and their demographics or geographic “hot spots” based on various indicators could be shared. Kasha is also part of a technical working group identifying technology solutions to help with the situation.”
Finnfund is committed to investing 105 million euros in businesses that advance gender equality during 2019-2021. The investment in Kasha promotes gender equality by creating access to health-related products as well as creating employment and leaderships opportunities for women.
“This investment fills all the 2X Challenge criteria that we apply to our gender investments”, says Raehalme. “Kasha increases the access to health products and health information while also employing low-income women in the rural communities as Kasha agents. The company was founded by two women, 50% of senior management are women and 50% of the board members are women.”