Controlling counterfeit medicine is an ongoing battle in Bangladesh, where fraudulent or low-quality pharmaceuticals account for 20% of the country's yearly medication sales. The pharmacies are frequently understocked, and someone with a prescription must visit three or four separate pharmacies to obtain all of the medications on that prescription. Many times, people are forced to hunt for a different brand of their medication due to the unavailability of the prescribed one.
To address these concerns, Arogga, a health-tech startup, claims that it is supplying a complete range of genuine medications to users at a reasonable price. In addition, the company also offers over-the-counter items, including vitamins, diet/fitness supplements, herbal products, sexual health and fem care products, mother care products, beauty care products, and many more.
Medicine delivery is a growing market in Bangladesh and Arogga is making a difference by facilitating access through technology. Founded in 2020, Arogga has had over 70,000 app downloads and has delivered over 30,000 medicines to date, the company claims. The user will simply have to log on to the app, upload a photo of their prescription, and complete the payment to receive their medicines right at their doorstep. While the company started with on-demand medicine delivery aka online pharmacy, it intends to provide 360-degree digital health services including online medical appointments, expert consultations, lab testing, and healthcare insurance.
Healthcare is an integrated service which means services such as doctor consultation, lab testing, and other similar services are interconnected and allows for aggregation. Arogga looks to take this advantage to build out more services and scale into adjacent verticals. There has been a race to build integrated digital healthcare solutions in Bangladesh of late. A host of new digital healthcare services startups such as Amarlab, Doctorkoi, Praava Health among others all want to build integrated solutions using the technology’s ability to aggregate. This market reality could create competitive challenges for Aroggo and other players in the vertical.
Rosina Mazumder, CEO and Co-Founder of Arogga, is a former investment banker who embarked on an entrepreneurial journey in 2013 when she founded her own publishing company ‘Cake Masters.' She has been a Facebook Ambassador since 2017 and currently serves on the UK SME Facebook Council. She has always aspired to be a social entrepreneur and the Covid-19 lockdown gave her an opportunity to reflect. She started digging into the market and potential of emerging economies while taking an online entrepreneurship course at Harvard. The course introduced her to a number of cases pertaining to India's health-tech sector, prompting her to consider the scarcity of digital healthcare services in Bangladesh.
The COO, Fahad Hossain, and the CTO, Shamim Hasan spent two years analyzing the hurdles of Bangladesh's pharmacy sector, including logistical and supply chain issues, as well as the scarcity of legitimate drugs.
With Bangladesh identified as one of the world's next major power economies, and the populace embracing the digital revolution through the usage of smartphone technology, the visionary entrepreneur along with her co-founders Fahad Hossain, Shamim Hasan, and Yawar Mehboob, set out on a mission to make Arogga the number one pharmacy and healthcare platform in Bangladesh. The team has a thorough understanding of the local market while also having extensive experience outside of the country, allowing them to quickly learn and adapt based on examples from other countries.
Arogga was forced to close its doors at the beginning of 2020 due to a continual scarcity of stock at even the largest pharmacies in Dhaka. Rosina joined the team in November 2020 and revamped the business model. The company began sourcing pharmaceuticals directly from manufacturers and operates temperature-controlled storage in Dhaka with a team of ten people, including a qualified pharmacist. Since then, the company claims it has experienced 60 percent average month-on-month growth, demonstrating that there is tremendous demand. The company claims to have developed a thorough understanding and knowledge of the pharmaceutical supply chain, as well as solid relationships with key manufacturers in a span of two years.
According to Arogga, a substantial percentage of their regular customers have chronic conditions, like diabetes, heart and blood pressure that necessitate the use of medications on a monthly basis. The company’s preliminary data depicts that 55 percent of Arogga’s regular consumers have raised their purchases month after month. This attests to the fact that Arogga is playing its cards right. People may now conveniently monitor, order, and track the delivery of their drugs and other healthcare supplies thanks to Arogga. Despite the fact that the app accepts online payments, people are still inclined towards cash on delivery
For the time being, Arogga only serves Dhaka city with its in-house logistics solution. However, plans to reach out to more people are already in the works. The startup is attempting to form a collaboration with two third-party logistics companies that can ensure two to three-day delivery. A lot of reporting and administration is still done on paper, and Arogga can comprehend the benefits of digitizing information flows and processes. To that end, the company intends to partner with a number of hospitals and clinics and digitize lab report delivery. A trained individual will visit a patient's residence, take relevant samples, perform tests in Aroga's labs, and then share the report online.
Arogga won the Tech in Asia Pitch Competition in March, attracting investment from Singapore-based angel investors. In May 2021, the health-tech startup secured $200k in pre-seed funding from new angel investors and follow-on investment from Dubai-based Falcon Network. With the newest funding, the firm intends to solidify its market leadership position in the pharmaceutical logistics industry by growing its tech team to build further verticals and get one more step closer to a truly Digital Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's burgeoning health-tech sector is making a noticeable impact. The majority of digital startups focus on providing people with access to healthcare information and professionals, however services similar to Arogga exist as well, such as ePharma.com and Bangla Meds. But the opportunity in the healthcare sector is huge where the local market is anticipated to be worth $5.11 billion by 2023. Being one of the early players with ambition to expand into more healthcare services, Arogga stands to gain from the growth in the market. With a quarter-million dollars raised to date, Arogga intends to significantly scale by investing in more digital talent and operational expansion.