Gregory Rockson co-founded mPharma, a vendor-managed inventory software and retail pharmacy operator, in 2013 in his home country of Ghana and now has operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Malawi. mPharma has received over $40 million in funding, with backers including Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital and Silicon Valley investor Jim Breyer.
What’s the biggest opportunity in your region that’s often overlooked?
The enormous potential in building direct-to-consumer tech solutions targeting the elderly (60+) in Africa because the continent is always seen through the lens of its youth. Most of the technology solutions being built today focus on addressing problems faced by younger consumers.
What was the most important decision of your career?
Deciding not to stay in the U.S. after college to pursue a job at Google but instead relocating home to Ghana to start mPharma. The verdict is still out there if it was the right decision to make.
What’s the most common misconception about the markets you cover in Africa?
“People don’t want to pay for health care.” For a long time, health care has only been looked at as social intervention and not a commercial opportunity. This has largely been driven by the foreign aid agenda that has distorted health care markets in Africa.
What keeps you up at night?
To build a company that people feel proud to work at and see themselves as agents of change in very dysfunctional health care systems. I need to do this while also making a small profit for my shareholders. The pursuit of this dream keeps me awake each night.
How are you preparing your company for the end of the pandemic?
The pandemic accelerated the consumerization of health care in Africa. People have become more willing to use virtual health services and take more direct ownership of their health care. We need to make sure mPharma is at the center of this shift.
*This 3 Minutes With interview first appeared in Rest of World’s weekly newsletter. Sign up here.