Gregory Rockson, 27
AS A KID, GREGORY ROCKSON was always sick. “there was a joke back home”—in his native Ghana—“that i was the baby that was always going to the hospital,” he says. “i’m lucky i survived.”
it’s hard for average africans to get medical attention. most don’t have health insurance—in South africa, the continent’s most developed nation, just 17% of the population is covered—and must pay out of pocket. to make matters worse, there are few large pharmacy chains, and small shops don’t have the purchasing power to buy medicine cheaply.
that’s where rockson’s mPharma comes in. a pharmacy benefits manager, it buys drugs on behalf of pharmacies and provides software to them for tracking inventory and forecasting what patients will need. mPharma purchases the drugs in bulk, securing discounts as much as 40% lower than what a typical pharmacy would pay. So far, 200 pharmacies across four countries have become mPharma clients.
mPharma is armed with $12 million in funding from billionaire jim breyer and others, though rockson readily admits many more investors turned him away. “People didn’t really understand africa as a continent of opportunity,” he says. “they saw it as a continent of problems.”