Innovate for Life

‘We offer African entrepreneurs our 60 years of experience in the African health sector and we open up our strong network to co-develop innovative home-grown solutions for better health in Africa!’

Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa


Africa has one of the world’s youngest populations, and it’s set to double by 2050, meaning the demand for stable wages and employment in Africa will rise dramatically. The IFC estimated that there is a $331 billion funding gap in Africa to support small and medium enterprises grow and help to employ Africa’s youth in the future. With less than 1% of global health expenditure and only 3% of the world’s health workers, Africa accounts for almost half the world’s deaths of children under five, has the highest maternal mortality rate, and bears a heavy toll from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. As the population in Africa increases rapidly, while the existing health systems are not expanding, the situation will likely deteriorate.

This creates an opportunity to provide dedicated support to small and medium health enterprises to accelerate the continent’s progress towards SDG 3 while also supporting youth and future employment in SSA.


The Innovate for Life (I4L) program is centered around developing shared value partnerships between Amref country offices and health innovators to support health innovations from around the world scale in SSA and address major health challenges in the region. Through this mission, I4L aims to catalyze innovation for the creation of lasting health change in Africa, which supports the overall vision, mission, and promise of Amref Health Africa.

I4L combines health knowledge, capacity, and networks, business and leadership coaching, and partnership acceleration for innovators in the program.


In May 2017, Amref Health Africa launched an ambitious initiative: Innovate for Life (I4L). I4L supports entrepreneurs in the development of innovative, sustainable and scalable solutions for a healthy Africa. I4L specifically focuses on the ‘missing middle’ – a growing community of entrepreneurs whose enterprises are too large for microcredit, but too small for traditional commercial investors.

Through Amref these entrepreneurs will have access to detailed knowledge about healthcare in Africa and access to Amref’s extensive local and international network of stakeholders, donors and investors.

What do we offer?

  • The program will leverage a combination of in-person and remote work, online courses and workshops, and independent learning and co-creation. The program will be composed of three key phases:
    • Phase 1: Scouting – Over 3 months, I4L will understand Amref country office programmatic needs, source global innovators based on these needs, and select and match innovators to country office programs
    • Phase 2: Core Programming – Over 5 months, I4L will hold an orientation, lead business and leadership coaching, and co-create partnerships between health innovators and Amref country offices. These activities will lead to the development of a partnership proposal that can be signed during the completion of this phase
    • Phase 3: Follow UpOngoing after completion of the core program, I4L will monitor the progress of I4L innovators and the developed shared value solutions from the core program and continue to provide support through pilot implementation and/or alumni programming

Innovator Value Proposition

I4L’s value proposition will be centred around leveraging Amref’s strengths as a leading health NGO in Africa to support the scale of innovations, specifically:

  • Affiliation with the Amref brand to gain industry credibility;
  • Access to Amref experts and entities;
  • In-country health knowledge, capacity, and networks;
  • Business and leadership coaching from an experienced Amref business partner;
  • Development and implementation of strategic partnerships with Amref programs;
  • And an alumni network and access to Amref conferences and events on an ongoing basis.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for passionate health innovators who have a proven business and health impact model, have tested their innovation for scale in SSA, and fit the needs of Amref country offices to enable a demand-driven innovation program and strong partnerships for scale. In specific, the future I4L innovator should:

  • Have an innovative solution in Ethiopia in any of the following areas: 1)NCDs, 2)CDs and 3)WASH;
  • Have an innovative solution in Kenya in any of the following areas: 1)HIV/TB/Malaria/NCDs, 2)RMNCAH and 3) WASH & NTDs. Special interest to innovations targeting behavioral change and data collation in the aforementioned thematic areas;
  • Have a proof-of-concept innovation with demonstrated business viability;
  • Have proof of testing the innovation in the Kenyan or Ethiopian market; for example, a feasibility assessment, registration, and/or launch of the innovation in this geography;
  • Be interested in scaling their innovation through a partnership with one or many Amref program(s).


  • NCDs: noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases etc.
  • CDs: communicable diseases, such as hepatitis A, B & C, HIV, measles, malaria etc.
  • WASH: water, sanitation & hygiene
  • TB: tuberculosis
  • RMNCAH: reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health
  • NTDs: neglected tropical diseases


Next call for applications: Closed
Notification to winners: 31st of January, 2020
Innovate for Life Programme: 1st of March, 2020 – 7th of August, 2020

Members of the Health Panel

The first round of selection will be carried out by a Health Panel. They will judge the applicants on innovativeness, impact potential and appropriateness of their products and services.

Dr. Catherine Kanari

Clinical Business Lead, Amref Enterprises Limited

Dr. Elizabeth Wala

Programme Director, Amref Health Africa in Kenya

Dr. Meshack Ndirangu

Country Director, Amref Health Africa in Kenya

Dorieke Kuijpers

Ventures Manager, Amref in the Netherlands

Dr. Kassahun Negash

Program Manager for Communicable and non-communicable diseases, Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia

Gilbert Wangalwa

Chief of Party for the USAID Kenya funded AFYA TIMIZA project, Amref Health Africa in Kenya

Duke Mobegi

Project Manager, Amref Health Africa in Kenya

Kulule Makonnen

WASH Programme Manager, Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia

Dr. Bernard Langat

Programme Director, HIV, TB, Malaria and NCDs, Amref Health Africa in Kenya

Members of the Business Panel

The second round of selection will be carried out by an the Business Panel. Their judgement will be based on the capabilities of the founder and their team, scalability and sustainability of the business plan.

Dr. Kelechi Ohiri

Managing Partner, Flint Atlantic

Peter Waiganjo

Venture Development Manager, Amref Health Africa in Kenya

Natasha Sunderji

Global Health Lead for Accenture Development Partnerships

Maurice Otieno

General Manager, Mettā Nairobi

Willis Njumbi

Business Development Lead at Amref Enterprises

Jaime Ramirez

Chief Investment Officer/Chief Operation Officer, Grassroots Business Fund

Danny Dubbeldeman

Manager Ventures, Amref in the Netherlands

Jasper Klapwijk

Business Development Manager at FMO, the Dutch Development Bank

Eline Blaauboer

Managing Partner Africa Tech Ventures & TBL Mirror Fund

Members of the VvAA Student Panel

The VvAA students will develop an advice for the Health and Business Panel. Their judgement will be based on innovativeness, impact potential, scalability and sustainability of the business plan.

Karin Olthof

MSc student Technical Medicine

Anouk Moens

Medical Student

Meet our entrepreneurs

Innovate for Life’s entrepreneurs will be immersed in the world of Amref – benefitting from our sixty plus years of excellence in community health care, our organizational scale across Africa, international network of Amref offices and deep network of corporate, institutional and governmental partners. At the same time, the communities, facilities and partners we work with will benefit from cutting edge ideas with an accelerated route to implementation and scale.


If you have a question, please contact us at [email protected]