Avion; Ethiopian medical drones

Avion is an Ethiopian technology solutions company that develops and implements drone-based medical supply deliveries to remote areas in Ethiopia that are inaccessible through conventional methods. The drones deliver medicine, vaccines, and other crucial medical supplies to these areas.

The founders are three high school friends that have been working together on developing tech-based solutions since a young age. The Avion website affirms that they started their passion for tech by scribbling their ideas on a piece of paper. Before Avion, they had developed a health management system deployed in Black Lion hospital, and a USSD based data collection system for the Green Legacy campaign currently being implemented by the government.

After conducting several test flights both in private and in public, the development of the drones was approved by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology with the advisement of the Ministry of Health. Accordingly, Avion was tasked with providing its services nationwide. consultancy

Avion joined Y-Combinator’s Winter 2020 batch as the first-ever Ethiopian company to do so. Y-Combinator (YC) is an American seed accelerator, launched in March 2005 that provides seed money, consultation services, and network building services through a 3-month long program that is run twice a year. In exchange, it controls a 6% equity stake in the that are part of the program.

Being able to be part of YC has helped the company boost its confidence in its work as well as gain access to foreign exchange; an issue that had led to the stagnation of Avion’s projects for a year in the past. Thanks to YC, Avion received USD 120 thousand in seed investments.

After making several test flights both in private and in public, the development of the drones was approved by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and the Ministry of Health. Accordingly, Avion was tasked with providing its services nationwide.

With the seed money that Avion received as well as its growing reputation, the company plans on launching its project right away. The first phase of operations will include six city stations with 24 drones and an average of 120 daily and 2600 monthly deliveries. These flights will reach more than 2000 health centers that do not have access to medical supplies.

Avion drones are hybrid and autonomous with vertical take-off capabilities. The drones can deliver supplies that weigh up to 5 kg as far as 150 km away. These long and medium-range drones are connected to a central hub that serves as a data and logistics port.

Aside from the drones Avion has designed and set up distribution nodes with minimal infrastructure. These include small storage spaces for inventory, charging and fueling stations, minor maintenance toolkits,  flight monitoring computers, takeoff and landing pads, order processing, and order fulfillment areas, all with affordable and easy-to-set-up physical structures.

Avion intends to make Addis Ababa a drone production hub as well as expand its service to other African, Latin American, and South Asian countries.

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