"Micro-Clinics" for Kenyan Slums

"Micro-Clinics" for Kenyan Slums

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Last Update: September 26, 2013

Access Afya is creating a chain of "micro-clinics" that provide standardized outpatient services targeting the extreme poor. It is a one-stop shop for health supplies and information. This model lowers barriers to good health by bringing care directly to the doorstep of the people who need it most.

Founded: 2012 Type: for profit

The Problem

Sickness and disease have a devastating impact on poor communities in Kenya. Wealth is a major determinate of health; the poor are less likely to access preventative and life-saving treatments, to use family planning, and to know their HIV status. Slum conditions exacerbate disease, where 150 families can share a latrine, just over half of homes treat their water, and public clinics are crowded. Informal chemists sell pills, but not healthcare.

The Solution

Access Afya is creating a chain of "micro-clinics" designed for the base of the pyramid. This option is cleaner, better stocked, and more convenient than public health centers, while being more reliable than surrounding informal chemists. Customers stop in for retail supplies, and can learn about the health clinic in back. Full-time clinicians do on-site diagnosis and run rapid diagnostic tests. Care is friendlier because we provide clean, private spaces and protocols for treatment and follow-up. We link to existing community groups, making payments easier by lumping them in with school fees or savings groups. The brand Access Afya will be a name people come to trust, providing a consistent, quality, convenient experience.


One of our patients is a woman with severe asthma. She was brought to us one day when she was having a severe attack; we were still new and her family was running around looking for a place with a nebulizer. This is our initial impact: we are staffed and stocked to respond to our patients' health needs when no one else is. But it did not stop there. We continued to work with her. She brought her son in, who also has frequent attacks. She bought him an inhaler, signaling a shift for more proactive, preventative care. As a "micro-clinic" leveraging linkages with existing community health workers and networks we are uniquely poised to give health education and build trust among a population that is not used to utilizing reliable health care.


After six months of operations, Access Afya had 510 unique patients registered in its database. These patients have used consultations, diagnostics, and vitals monitoring. We ran 83 diagnostic tests. In addition to the provision of health services, we sold quality medicine and health supplies including sanitary pads, diapers, condoms, and re-hydration salts. We have worked with over 50 women on family planning, including 36 who have opted for longer-term methods. One woman who buys pills from us told a compelling story in her customer feedback survey about how she had been on family planning pills for years, had a child while on them, and it was not until she talked to our nurse that she learned that they needed to be taken at the same time each day. We measure our impact not just in the number of people we reach, but also the quality consultations we have with them.

Budget: $100,000 - $250,000

Sustainability Plan

A single "micro-clinic" will take one year to break even if it sees a minimum of ten patients per day. Operating costs are lean because of efficient use of staff and space. Although patient consults are less profitable tests, medicine and product sales will cover these costs. By January, two new clinics will be open which will create additional revenue needed to cover managerial costs and get the organization closer to being fully sustainable.


Before Access Afya, our clients were choosing between informal chemists, public or charitable facilities. We target Kenyans in poverty with poor access to quality care, but some ability to pay for it. Our retail supplies also provide needed consumer goods and create a marketing channel for our other services. Although we are not always the cheapest option we work hard to keep our prices competitive and win by providing consistent, accessible, high quality services.

Founding Story

Founder Melissa Menke was working in NYC and fascinated by the intersection of markets and social goals. She worked in microfinance, and was inspired by not only the product, but the process of innovation that got this to people that needed it. She spent a lot of time talking with her Co-Founder about how to get basic health services to poor populations, with an focus on quality, scale, and technology. Melissa spent January 2012 in Kenya doing a feasibility analysis for a "micro clinic" model and heard from potential partners and patients what the needs were. Weeks after she was in a CVS in the U.S. and saw the Minute Clinic- nurses, medicine, shampoo all in one quick stop. She decided, “I needed to take this experience to Nairobi slums."

Get Involved!


 Access Afya is growing fast, and needs a dynamic COO to lead the organization from a successful start-up to a well-established, growing business. The number of staff will expand from eight to 24 by the end of this year and much higher in 2015. Grant funding is also supporting the...

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Comments & Activity


Melissa Menke profile img
Sun, 06/16/2013 - 22:02

We are interested in connecting with health innovators across the globe. Who can help us create a micro-clinic business for Kenya's poor?