Hyderabad-based NephroPlus, the rapidly expanding dialysis service chain, is all set to take its kidney care services to markets abroad armed with a fresh round of fund infusion. The company has announced that Investcorp, a Bahrain-based entity that describes itself as a leading global alternate asset manager, has invested Rs 316 crore ($45 million) in it. Speaking to Business Today, Vikram Vippula, founder of NephroPlus, says there are two parts to the funding. One is to make international foray and to partially write off debt and the other component is aimed at providing exit to one of its investors SeaLink Capital and to Prabha Sinha, the lead angel investor in the company.
On the international foray, he says, "Technically, we have presence abroad as we are in Nepal but this funding will help us launch our services in different countries abroad. We are looking at Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and couple of countries in the Middle East." These countries, he says, have been chosen on account of two major factors. First, these are closer home where the company is confident of making an impact and second, in large countries such as Indonesia with about 260 million people. In the Philippines, there is universal health coverage, therefore the government reimburses expenses for dialysis care, which also insures better access. In other regions, it is a mix of private insurance and government support/ reimbursement.
According to him, while services are profitable in India as well, but health being a state subject causes lack of uniformity across states. "We do have the national dialysis programme but states are supposed to execute it. The nature of governance and timely reimbursements vary across states." Although he does see a state like Andhra Pradesh execute it quite efficiently, he believes people who need dialysis are still not able to find access to them in India. "While the treatment in government hospitals is free, there are not enough dialysis service units, and as a result currently only 15 per cent people who need dialysis are able to get access to them.
NephroPlus, he says, has been trying to reach far and wide. It has 96 centres across 20 states covering 116 cities across the country, which makes it the largest network by an Indian player. It talks of a turnover of Rs 201 crore in 2018-19 and hopes to get to between Rs 270 crore and Rs 280 crore at the end of the current financial year. There are close to 10 major players across the country, mostly strong in certain geographies.
Launched nearly a decade ago in 2010 by Vippula and Kamal Shah, latter's battle with kidney disease, which is still on, was a key reason behind launching NephroPlus.