An Investors' Perspective The Health Sector in Emerging Markets


  • Felix Olale, Partner and Global Health Co-Lead, LeapFrog
  • Afsane Jetha, CEO and Managing Partner, Alta Semper Capital
  • Kevin Xie, President, Fosun Healthcare Holdings
  • David Easton, Director & Head of Consumer Business Team, CDC Group Plc


  • Nomaan Mirza, Principal Equity Specialist, IFC

Four large-scale investors in private healthcare across diverse emerging markets gave their prognoses for sector growth for the coming years.

Kevin Xie, President of Fosun Healthcare Holdings, the largest privately-owned investment conglomerate in China, said that the big hope in the industry is that Africa will follow a growth trajectory similar to what China has achieved since the 2000s. Healthcare is the single largest sector in Fosun’s portfolio, with investments spanning developed and developing countries. Xie also flagged pharma retail and distribution in Africa as an area with strong investment potential—and one into which Fosun has been expanding.

David Easton, Head of Consumer Business Team at CDC, the UK’s governments development finance institution which focuses on Africa and South Asia, said that whereas five or ten years ago, investors were unsure if money could be made in emerging market healthcare, now it is clear that you can. “Deals are more competitive these days. More people are looking for transactions. You’re not just looking at the specialists, generalists are dipping their toes into transactions,” said Easton. The needs of Africa and India’s markets differed significantly, he noted, with specializations like pediatric hospital chains showing promise in India, while in Africa the big challenge is to scale up healthcare platforms by creating regional players.

"You’re not just looking at the specialists, generalists are dipping their toes into transactions." —David Easton

“Governments are starting to put a lot of money into healthcare,” said Felix Olale, Partner and Global Health Co-Lead at LeapFrog, a private equity firm that invests in businesses who provide financial services to health sectors in Africa and Asia and targets low-to-middle income consumers. Governments are funneling this increased funding into nascent national health insurance schemes. The greatest opportunities for investors may lie outside of the traditional hospital infrastructure, in the realm of “taking care of people where they are”—be it at a pharmacy, a nearby specialist, or at home, he said. This may become the model for the future.

Afsane Jetha, CEO and Managing Partner at Alta Semper Capital, a private equity firm that invests in healthcare consumer sectors in Africa, said “we see a huge opportunity in the role of medical technology, precision medicine, next generation diagnostics.” Jetha suggested that disruptive technology-driven services like artificial intelligence-medical imaging, telemedicine, and mobile clinics, could partly supplant the role of the traditional 200-bed hospital in every village. In terms of emerging business models, she highlighted how vertical integration has, at least for her company, been a powerful tool for tackling life-threatening diseases like cancer in a timelier manner. Making progress in reducing time lags for treating fatal diseases was key to saving more lives, she said.

“We see a huge opportunity in the role of medical technology, precision medicine, next generation diagnostics.”—Afsane Jetha



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