Nigerian startup Nguvu Health is providing on-demand online therapy sessions to Africans anywhere in the world via their smartphones.
Founded in March 2020, Nguvu Health utilises Android and iOS apps to connect users with licensed therapists via in-app messaging or video call, in order to provide easy access to affordable therapy sessions.
Users register and complete a short assessment before being matched with a mental health professional, who has to go through a rigorous onboarding process before joining the company’s panel of therapists. Sessions can be conducted in both English and Swahili, and Nguvu has grand plans to onboard 10,000 users and 1,000 therapists by the end of 2021.
Roughly 50 million Nigerians live with mental disorders, according to a World Health Organisation report in 2017, while about 29 million Africans live with depression. Nguvi is attempting to address the limited access to mental healthcare by taking advantage of increased internet and smartphone penetration.
“Our customers are able to communicate – via text, audio, and video – directly in-app with their therapists and are able to schedule live video sessions with their matched therapists. This is particularly useful at such a time as this, post-pandemic. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made mental health therapy more important than ever,” said Nguvu founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Joshua Koya.
“Nguvu Health provides therapists the opportunity to generate extra income while we provide easy access for our customers. Our vision is to extensively build tech solutions that revolve around preventing mental disorders from happening and correcting existing disorders. We believe that everyone deserves a very healthy mental being, which is at the core of our existence as humans.”
Koya believes Nguvu Health is set to be Africa’s top online therapy platform, and hence its competitors are largely private traditional therapy providers, who are not available on-demand.
“However, on the global scene, our competitors are Talkspace, Betterhelp, Hellokip, and Ginger, amongst others, and we are differentiated by cultural representation and affordability. Meanwhile, as we expand and build more products, the face of who our competitors are will change and evolve,” said Koya.
Self-funded to date, Nguvu Health is presently fundraising, and targeting somewhere between US$200,000 and US$400,000 to assist it with deep research and product development, operations, customer acquisition, and producing mental health education materials. Since its launch, the Nguvu app has already had over 1,000 sign-ups, and it also has 26 qualified therapists, from Nigeria and Kenya, with around 50 therapists in the pipeline across Africa.
“Even though we are Nigerian founders, at this stage, Nguvu Health is pan-African and not tied only to the Nigerian market. In the long run we aim to be serving the global market, especially because our future solutions will be greatly beneficial to everyone in the world,” Koya said.