Saving Lives with Science

Saving Lives with Science

Leading Kenyan pharm company Universal Corporation Ltd brings affordable high-quality medicines to sub-Saharan Africa

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Monday, August 8, 2016 - 1:45pm

CONTENT: Press Release

Nairobi, August 8, 2016 /3BL Media/ – Universal Corporation Ltd (UCL), a pharmaceutical manufacturing company based in Kikuyu Township on Nairobi, Kenya’s outskirts, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide an additional 6 million doses of first-line treatment for childhood diarrhea each year by 2019. At the same time, the company has pledged to introduce two new low-cost medicines to combat malaria child mortality into the sub-Saharan African market.

The BCtA is a global initiative that aims to support private sector efforts to fight poverty through its core business. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

While the high prevalence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS in Africa has gained significant media attention in recent years, easily treatable ailments such as malaria and diarrheal diseases affect many more people and claim a significantly higher number of lives – especially those of children. Although these diseases have been all but eradicated in richer countries, they claim millions of young lives because their treatments are not affordable. Compounding the problem, medicines produced for low-income markets are often of poor quality or do not contain a sufficient amount of the active ingredient. As a result, easily treatable diseases are taking an enormous toll throughout sub-Saharan Africa – both in terms of mortality and lost productivity.

UCL is tackling this serious problem by supplying life-saving medicines for distribution by international organizations such as UNICEF, USAID and NGOs throughout Kenya and other African countries. Its Kikuyu-based plant, where it employs 450 Kenyans and produces approximately 1 billion tablets each year, has been quality certified by both Kenyan authorities and the World Health Organization.

According to Mr. Perviz Dhanani, Managing Director of UCL, “Our mission is to produce quality pharmaceuticals that are accessible to all. By meeting the market demand for quality, low-cost medicines that combat diseases such as malaria and childhood diarrhea, we are turning a healthy profit and establishing ourselves as a well-recognized brand in sub-Saharan Africa. This presents a ‘win-win’ situation in which our company and its employees, distributors and consumers all benefit – including thousands of children.”

By establishing its manufacturing plant in a township outside the capital, Nairobi, and providing comprehensive training to its employees, the company is incorporating local people into the production and distribution of its life-saving medicines. By 2019, UCL plans to hire and train 40 additional staff to accompany its further scale up of production capacity for medicines including Sulphadoxine+Pyrimethamine and Amodiaquine to combat malaria, and oral rehydration salts to reduce childhood mortality from diarrheal diseases.

The company’s inclusive business model is based on the economies of scale derived from manufacturing a high volume of quality medicine in order to reduce production costs. This will enable the company to increase its market share and secure the returns needed to scale up the introduction of new medicines in an area of high demand and limited resources.

“UCL is addressing a critical market need by delivering affordable, high-quality medicines in Kenya,” said Paula Pelaez, BCtA’s Programme Manager. “This company has the potential to strengthen developing economies by saving the lives of thousands of children.”

As a result of its initiative, the company expects to impact between 60,000 to 80,000 people each year – decreasing mortality and providing much-needed jobs for Kenyans. By improving children’s health and enhancing livelihoods, UCL’s inclusive initiative will not only enrich the Kenyan economy. The company’s expanding market reach will stimulate the development of distribution enterprises in other sub-Saharan African countries to deliver these critical treatments.

For further information:

Business Call to Action: Tatiana Bessarabova at

Universal Corporation Ltd (UCL): Michael Omwango at

Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.

About the Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)UK Department for International DevelopmentUS Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.

About Universal Corporation Ltd (UCL): UCL was established as Universal Pharmacy Ltd in 1996 with a small manufacturing unit in Nairobi. But the dream of the three founding directors was to set up a large-scale, state-of-the-art pharmaceutical manufacturing unit; this dream was realized in 2004 with the company’s new plant in in Kikuyu Township, Kiambu County, on the outskirts of Nairobi.

In 2005, Finnfund bought shares in UCL as part of a capital injection. In 2008, they made a further investment which made it possible for UCL to get an ARV prequalified by WHO. In 2016, Strides Shasun Limited (a company quoted on the Mumbai stock exchange bought a 51% stake in UCL, this places us in a unique position in Africa by giving access to APIs, New products and Tech Transfer. Today, UCL manufactures over 100 formulations including tablets, capsules, syrups and suspensions, ointments and creams. Since commissioning its new facility, UCL has continuously upgraded its technical capacity and strengthened its focus on quality assurance.  As a result, the company has expanded its market reach well beyond Kenya. Currently it distributes medicines in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Angola, Tanzania and Uganda. For more information, please visit