BY TOM JACKSON
Nigerian anti-counterfeiting startup Chekkit has raised a US$500,000 pre-seed funding round to help it expand its operations within the pharmaceutical and FMCG industries.
Formed at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana, Chekkit has built a platform that tracks product movement and the parties involved in the transfer of products from warehouse to distributor, and on to the final consumer.
Essentially, Chekkit is an anti-counterfeiting, asset tracking and consumer feedback analytics tool. It produces tamper-proof unique ID labels, either as QR codes or numeric codes, which can be placed on premium packaged food and beverage products for supply chain and consumer feedback tracking.
The startup, which last year began operations in Afghanistan, has just closed a pre-seed funding round of US$500,000 from Launch Africa, Japan Strategic Capital, Blockchain Founders Fund, and two syndicate groups of angel investors. It also includes a grant from the Orange Corners programme.
So far, Chekkit has secured over seven million pharmaceutical products and protected over 200,000 consumers, working with pharmaceutical companies like Merck, Royal Star Pharma and Nabros Pharmaceutical. The funding is to further expand its reach in this sector, as well as in the FMCG space, where it already works with brands including Indomie, Nivea and Flourmills of Nigeria.
“We are super-pumped about the future as we develop unique technological products to protect the lives of millions and also directly improve the act of doing business for several brands by learning about consumers in the largely informal African markets,” said Chekkit chief executive officer (CEO) Dare Odumade.
“We will be launching the first consumer intelligence software-as-a-service for consumer brands to create end-to-end loyalty campaigns, aggregate engagement data and distribute rewards in-house and with their marketing agencies for the first time ever, enabling consumers to directly interact with brands through QR and USSD shortcodes printed directly on the product package.”
Biola Alabi, co-leader of one of the angel syndicate groups, said investing in Chekkit was a “no brainer”.
“They are tackling the scourge of fake drugs in Nigeria and across emerging markets globally. One of the biggest challenges still facing the pharmaceutical and healthcare systems in Africa is fake and substandard drugs, weak regulatory environments and lack of consumer education. Fake and substandard drugs are responsible for thousands of deaths annually across Africa,” she said.
“Chekkit is already working with governments to strengthen and heighten pharmacovigilance, patient education and advocacy. The application is saving lives by simultaneously detecting and notifying consumers, manufactures and policy makers from the minute fake or substandard drugs are detected.
I’m excited that the company is building and using blockchain to build out its solution. Chekkit, with an experienced team, local and global traction, is poised to save more lives and I’m proud to be an investor and lead a team of other investors to build.”