Award winning medical referral app, Vula Mobile, has raised R1 million in funding after partnering with HAVAÍC, a Cape Town-based investment and advisory firm that specialises in early-stage businesses in Africa.

Vula Mobile is the brainchild of Dr William Mapham, a registrar at the Ophthalmology Department of Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, an app designed to directly connect health workers in remote and under-served areas to medical and surgical specialists in urban centres.

The R1 million seed round with HAVAÍC — which was conducted over three weeks — was concluded in January 2018 and saw Vula’s partners, users, stakeholders as well as HAVAÍC partners each invest a minimum of R5,000 each.

“As a start-up we didn’t have the skills to raise capital on our own. The HAVAÍC team’s combined experience in finance, legal and equity sales made the innovative Seed Round possible. I am especially grateful for Rob Heath’s financial modelling and Grant Rock’s legal advice. Given the legal complexities in the health sector it is great that Grant has agreed to join Vula’s board as a non-executive,” said Dr Mapham.

When the app launched in 2014, it was initially designed for ophthalmology referrals but has since diversified to include 10 specialties including cardiology, orthopaedics and dermatology.

The number of health workers registered on the Vula app more than doubled from 1,775 at the beginning of January 2017, to more than 3,600 a year later, according to the company’s blog.

“I have been following Vula’s path for a few years, and have been impressed with the traction to date, the quality of the company’s product and the international recognition it has received,” said HAVAÍC partner, Rob Heath. “There is a lot of underlying value that we are looking to maximise, and we were very excited to participate in Vula’s further success.”

Vula has been recognised locally, winning MTN’s Most Innovative App Award, as well as internationally as a top 20 finalist in Amazon’s City on a Cloud Awards.

“The primary goal of Vula will remain the provision of efficient specialist healthcare access to South Africa’s rural population, and potentially those of other countries,” said Non-executive Chair of Vula, and an Executive Director at Medscheme, Dr Lungi Nyathi.

The funds from the capital raise enabled the Vula team to work full time.

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