Gre­gory Rock­son, 27

Forbes - - 30 UNDER 30 - —He­len A.S. Pop­kin and Igor Bosilkovski

Co­Founder, mPHArmA

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.”

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