Impact Investment Profile

Investor

Acumen Fund

Investee

Sproxil

A customer uses Sproxil's Mobile Product Authentication™ to verify the medication's authenticity.

Acumen Fund invests patient capital in breakthrough businesses that provide the world's poor with basic goods and services. Sproxil is a social enterprise that uses technology to help consumers verify the authenticity of their medication to avoid the use of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Acumen Fund’s USD 1.79 million investment will support Sproxil’s expansion into India, evaluate expansion into East Africa, and develop further improvements in its technology.

Investor Targeted Impact

Improve health outcomes for the poor

Investor

Name Acumen Fund
Investor description Acumen Fund is working to create a world beyond poverty by investing patient capital in breakthrough ideas, emerging leaders, and social enterprises that deliver critical, affordable goods and services to the world's poor. Patient capital is are debt or equity investments in social enterprises that have long time horizons, tolerance for risk, and is complemented with a range of management support services. Since 2001, Acumen Fund has placed more than USD 60 million in social enterprises that provide access to water, health, energy, housing, and agricultural services to low-income customers in South Asia and East Africa. All returns are reinvested into Acumen Fund for future investments.

Investee

Name Sproxil
Sector Health
Geography Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana; South Asia: India
Investee business model Sproxil's mission is to minimize the presence of counterfeit drugs in emerging markets while connecting legitimate pharmaceutical companies to their consumers in a scalable way. It is combating the global counterfeit drug market through a Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™) solution that helps consumers verify the authenticity of pharmaceutical products. A user of Sproxil's MPA™ solution can scratch off a drug label to reveal a code, and then send the code via a free text message to Sproxil's computer servers. Sproxil immediately responds and indicates whether the drug is genuine or counterfeit.Sproxil has also implemented the first nationwide mobile-based anti-counterfeit service in Africa. The anti-counterfeit service began in Nigeria with a partnership with the Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. By early 2012, the company had processed over one million consumer transactions, reaching more than one in every 200 people in Nigeria.
Motivations for investment Sproxil's MPA™ solution is innovative, reliable, and solves a critical health market challenge. The World Health Organization estimates that 25-30 percent of medicines in developing countries are counterfeit and that up to 50 percent of medicines in specific developing countries are sub-standard. These issues represent a large potential market and opportunity for immediate and broad social impact. Additionally, rather than relying on end-consumers to pay for Sproxil's services, its unique business model earns revenue from pharmaceutical companies that pay for the service. Companies are willing to pay for the service in part because they can increase their market share by decreasing the presence of competing drug counterfeiters. At the time of investment, Sproxil was a two-year old company in early stages of growth with a proven track record and history of success in Nigeria. Sproxil had already secured initial clients in Nigeria and attracted interest among additional pharmaceutical companies at the time of Acumen Fund's investment, which improved the viability of the company's financial forecasts.

Investment

Instrument Equity
Investment size USD 1.79 million
Source of deal Sproxil was sourced by Acumen Fund via a pitch to the portfolio team. The team evaluated the company based on Acumen Fund's investment criteria, which include the investment's potential for significant social impact in delivering critical goods or services to the base of the economic pyramid, potential for financial sustainability, and potential to achieve scale and reach at least one million end users within a five year period.
Stage of company at time of investment Early stage
Purpose of investment Acumen Fund's investment has been used for Sproxil's expansion into India, expansion into East Africa, and development of further improvements in its technology.
Investment impact objectives The investment in Sproxil aims to achieve significant social impact by empowering consumers to verify the authenticity of medications and eliminating the adverse health consequences and money wasted from the consumption and purchase of counterfeit drugs. Sproxil provides a cost-effective way to determine if a drug is counterfeit, which results in several key social benefits: improved health outcomes, reduced costs to patients, insurers, and governments, empowered consumers, and improved consumer trust. The company's intended impact aligns with Acumen Fund's aim as an investor to improve access to critical goods and services, particularly for low-income customers.
Social and environmental metrics tracked on investment Acumen tracks the following impact metrics on this investment, including the following IRIS metrics (IRIS alignment noted in parentheses):Units/Volume Sold (IRIS aligned - PI1263)Client Individuals (IRIS aligned - PI4060)Number of texts authenticating drugs as real versus fake

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