Director and Founder of Encartar Diagnostics Ltd., Jimcartar Njagi, has been in the medical supplies business for nearly a decade, and in that time completed many large-scale equipment deliveries to hospitals. When a United Nations tender came across his desk to put medical equipment in 14 health facilities and dispensaries in Kijado County, his company was the natural pick. This was the type of deal that could really scale his business to the next level, something Njagi has been struggling to do despite his previous contracts with the Ministry of Health and other non-governmental agencies.
Njagi explains that the obstacle to scaling really lies in the access to financing. “Today in Kenya you must have property or assets if you want to get financing. This is a big challenge because most of the young entrepreneurs don’t have all these things.” He adds, “even the people who have been in the market for long don’t, [so] you may get a project that doesn’t suit your security.”
That’s what happened to Njagi when he took his contract to the bank in search of financial help in procuring the goods. He was turned down for a loan because he didn’t have enough collateral for a deal this big. Njagi didn’t give up though and went in search of another solution.
Similar to the time he learned that the gauze available to first responders was not as effective as it could be in stopping bleeding, Njagi wanted to find a solution, a better alternative.
“When we looked at the First Aid kits we had in our country or even in the world, we felt they didn’t serve the purpose of rescuing the patient. We lost a lot of patients from bleeding, nothing else, [so] we were looking for a product that could stop that bleeding immediately.”
Through his own research he found Quikclot, a trauma gauze that helps the patient clot faster because it is impregnated with kaolin, explains Njagi, which is a mineral that accelerates the body’s clotting ability.
Njagi has the tenacity of a successful entrepreneur. First, he’s able to identify the problem facing his business or community; then he doesn’t stop until he finds a solution.
When inquiring about his other financing options, he came across a colleague who suggested Kountable, an alternative to traditional financing in trade. Unlike other financial institutions, Kountable doesn’t give loans. Instead the company buys the goods needed to fulfill the tender and partners with the supplier to help deliver those goods for the end customer, in this case the United Nations.
Njagi describes the company and partnership: “I think it is a flexible financing institution. I would advise everyone to use Kountable. When I first presented my deal for the United Nations, I was just asked to bring my credentials: Do you have an office? Do you have a local purchase order that you are working on?
“Once you have the deal, there is a process to upload all of the documentation, the registration documents, your pin, NPOs, suppliers and working timelines.”
Njagi says that Kountable’s request for documentation and working timelines also helped him do a better job in communicating expectations of deliverables — it helped him do better business.
“The uploading of the working plan,” says Njagi, “answers when is the money coming, when I am getting the goods. Then there is the issue of the distribution, and we also have the goods insured, which we didn’t have before.
“It helps you understand what you might need from your client in the future,” says Njagi. “Even the customer feels good in the end.”
Partnering with Kountable was a gamechanger for Encartar Diagnostics Ltd. Not only was Njagi able to complete the company’s largest contract to date — he was able to land more.
“Financing is an issue because it stops you from moving forward,” he says, “even if you have a security and a deal, once you have another deal you cannot proceed; you have to wait until this first deal is paid.
“When it comes to Kountable, the deal is endless. It doesn’t matter how long or how many deals you have. Complete this and another deal comes — you just pop into their office, or upload your documents and you can advance.
“I would advise my other entrepreneurs, if you have been really looking for growth and a financial partner, I recommend Kountable.”
Since partnering with Kountable and completing its contract with the U.N., Encartar Diagnostics Ltd. has landed two major contracts with the Kenyan Army. Through these tenders the company continues to supply the lifesaving gauze Quikclot among other vital medical equipment and consumables.