During the Covid-19 crisis, an Egyptian company helped people with chronic diseases to overcome the medicine shortages and ensured they received their monthly prescription on time and safely.
Sometimes the best ideas come in difficult times. That’s what happened to Doaa Aref, a former director of digital marketing, when she got diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2017. She called her friend, Dr Rasha Rady as she realized that the surgery wasn’t the most difficult part. The problem was for her to get her daily life-long medicine regularly; sometimes she may not find what she needs, sometimes she may get the wrong medicine if ordered over the phone and and she would simply forget to take it because she is not used to this new lifestyle. So together, the two friends started a market research and discovered that many other people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or cancer patients and patients.were dealing with these problems. That’s how Chefaa was born, an AI-powered, GPS-enabled digital platform to help chronic patients order, schedule, and refill their recurring medicines regardless of location or income.
In the MENA region, where medication shortages are common, it is a life changer, especially in times of pandemic. But the start-up also became the 1st medical Data Warehouse and online pharmacy marketplace, in MENA offering data-driven solutions to decision makers. We talked with one of its co-founder, Rasha Rady, about the application features and the future of the company after its recent seven-figure (usd) fundraising.
What is the most difficult today for Egyptians regarding medicines and medications?
Sudden episodes of certain medicines shortage resulting into treatment course interruption but also the poor education regarding sound use of medicine resulting into wrong use up to side effects or complications.
How does the app work? What does it provide?
We built 2 mobile apps; one for pharmacy and one for patients connecting them. Patients can upload a prescription and submit it and it will be directed to the nearest pharmacy as per GPS location where the pharmacy gets notified of the prescription to prepare and deliver. Chefaa store display non-prescriptions and non-pharmaceuticals to get from the nearest pharmacy as per GPS. Patients can also get Chefaa Box: Bundles of relevant products at good rates. We offer our patients free services as well, including dosage reminders to make sure patients don’t miss a dose, 24/7 support to answer questions and offer free consultations by licensed pharmacists. We have built the first Arabic speaking pharmaceutical blog to educate the public about sound use of medicine.
What was the biggest challenge when Chefaa was launched?
The biggest challenge at first was to create the easiest user trip for our patients since the majority of chronic patients were elderly who couldn’t uber!! We did focus groups and listened to our customers.
How the covid-19 impacted your company. And how did you respond to it?
Since our target customers are chronic patients who are at highest risk amid the COVID-19 crisis, we have worked around the clock to ensure they secure their monthly prescriptions, although pharmacies were excluded from the lockdown but more chronic patients were convinced that if they found a safe and reliable online solution will be safer; hence Chefaa. We have witnessed an increase in orders by 300%, our 24/7 support has been answering questions, educating, assuring and serving patients. We are operational all over Egypt but our blog and 24/7 support chat has been serving patients in several Arab countries including KSA and UAE.
What do you plan to do with the new fundraising?
We are planning to grow our operations team , build customer care centers, and we have launched our private label and white label products line.