It’s been observed that there is a vast unmet demand for medical consultation in developing and potential markets, and Egypt is not an exception due to the average doctor supply. Statistically, in 2018, Egypt’s doctor to citizen ratio stood at 1:2,000; which at a glance one can paint the picture when you walk into any government hospital. However, to shape the habit of doctor-booking and consultation startup Esaal has taken a step via its platform to address this concern.
This comes as the issue related to long queues and the pandemic-changing habits that have resulted in an uptake in doctor-booking and consultation apps across the subject market and wider MENA region.
The subject app which has witnessed immense growth in the last two years is announcing a $1.7 million seed investment from A15, bringing Esaal’s total funding raised from the VC firm to $3 million since its launch in 2018.
It’s also worth noting that the subject startup is not only in the business of consultations on physical health, but addresses issues in other segments, such as nutrition and mental health.
According to data, it’s been figured out that there’s a growing mental health crisis among the MENA populations where 29% are believed to be suffering from depression, 35% are experiencing frequent stress, and obesity is at its highs among adults. However, the issue here is that, for most people, these illnesses linger due to the stigma associated with reaching out for therapy or discussing issues affecting their mental state.
‘Fadi Doss’, Esaal founder and CEO, said: “There is high demand when it comes to needing to talk to someone specialized in mental health. But most people have a fear of going physically to a center to see a therapist or psychiatrist. It’s not common still; people would love to do it”.
The CEO further explained how he’d browse on social media platforms and observe people feel comfortable sharing personal problems, sometimes behind pseudonyms, while receiving feedback from other users that are not specialists in the subject matter. This got him into developing a platform that captured this virtual opportunity, though with the therapist on the other end.
He also noted: “We decided to have a platform that connects the user to the expert, where he or she can get a personalized and real answer for health concerns in a straightforward and smooth way”. Adding that: “And if we talk about nutrition, it’s becoming a bit trendy here in the region because obesity among adults is becoming quite high. We can see people started to care much more about their nutrition and wellness”.
Currently, startup Esaal has amassed over 350 consultants on its platform, while offering consultations on a broad range of issues including anxiety, physiotherapy, nutrition, and pediatrics. The app users can access these services via an app (text, video/ voice calls, and in-person visitations) and pay with cash, Vodafone, credit cards, and Fawry.
The platform Users which grew 55% between 2020 and 2021, now stand at over 1 million. However, Esaal charges subscription fees and on-demand consultation fees with plans to make money from in-person visitations in subsequent updates.
Aside Egypt, Doss equally made clear that the company’s products are available in 7 other countries across MENA and the GCC: Tunisia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, and Palestine.
Responding to this development, the managing partner on the investment ‘Karim Beshara’ said: “They have been prudent in the deployment of capital to date, demonstrating outstanding efficiencies in unit economics, which has enabled their expansion ambitions”. Adding that, “We are proud to see their growth and enjoyed building the business with them throughout the last four years. There is no much more to come from Esaal and this sector”.
“There’s huge potential going deeper inside every country we are currently in and penetrating more countries in the region. Yes, we launched in eight countries, but I believe the potential is still enormous, and we can get multiples upon multiples in the coming four or five years”, Doss also added.
- What’s your take on startup Esaal’s latest?