Dr Chibuzo Opara who is the co-founder and co-CEO of DrugStoc is using his platform to solve prevalent challenge of drug distribution in Nigeria.
African pharmaceutical logistics has been subjected to a fragmented system . This has caused a lack of access, substandard and counterfeit medication and non-transparent pricing and financing of the supply chain.
DrugStoc is a cloud-based pharmatech distribution company that creates viable connections between Sub- Saharan hospitals, pharmacies, and healthcare centres to manufacturers of high-quality pharmaceutical products in a financially feasible way.
Opara’s plan to promote a healthier population originates from a desire to support healthcare professionals enabling the sector’s true transformation.
He graduated from Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria, with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). In addition, he holds an MPH in Economics, Policy, and Management and a PhD in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.
With a passion for using technology to break down obstacles and transform access to high-quality healthcare, he urged Nigeria to embrace it and help drive the change.
How Opara became an entrepreneur
Chibuzo Opara met his co-founder Yehia while doing his master’s in Economics, Policy and Management from the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Coincidentally, Yehia was also doing his Masters in the same school, but at a separate time. While Yehia was looking for an advisor for his Masters in Health Innovation Management, Opara met him.
“We had realised that we sort of faced the same challenges. He comes from a healthcare background with a family that has been in healthcare for about 40 years. So we were discussing the same challenges over and over again and decided, ‘Let’s do something about it,” Opara said.
After returning to Nigeria, the two co-founded Integra Health in 2010, a health consultancy and IT lab with offices in Lagos that focuses on utilising technology to integrate effective management practices and processes into healthcare.
“We were lucky enough to manage about 20 facilities, but we ran into the same challenges again when it came to sourcing medication, and we decided to do something about it.
We discovered that — and this is common with sub-Saharan countries with open drug markets — facilities would send folks to the open drug markets to source drugs, and when these drugs came, you couldn’t vouch for their safety, quality, or storage.”
The Launch of DrugStoc
Chibuzo Opara and his co-founder Yehia founded DrugStoc due to the fragmentation of the pharmaceutical industry. Excel sheets were used at the time, however that only provided a solution for the 20 facilities.
It evolved into what it is now, a quality medicine marketplace and cloud-based warehouse, to scale and benefit more people.
But there were several stages. The company, which was founded in 2015, conducted a pilot for 12 to 18 months before sticking to its present strategy and erecting its first experience centre in 2017.
The drug company currently collaborates with more than 800 pharmacies and the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, which has more than 2,000 registered members.
The business received funds as part of its participation in the Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) Growth Capital Fund. The inaugural $1 million Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative of the Jack Ma Foundation awarded DrugStoc a $65,000 prize in 2019. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation later awarded them another grant.
More recently, the business announced a $4.4 million Series A led by Africa HealthCare Master Fund (AAIC) in November 2021.
Along with finance, the business receives revenue via commissions it charges clients for its services. According to Opara, it is impossible to rely on donor finance, and in order for a company to endure the test of time, sustainability must be built-in.
The ultimate objective is to ensure that nothing interferes with the company’s supply chain and, consequently, its capacity to offer clients high-quality services.
DrugStoc phenomenal heights have been noticed and it has earned it The Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Award for Technology-Driven Pharma Distributor of the Year 2022.