Africa's healthcare sector is heavily undercapitalized, with a financing deficit of $66 billion per year. This lack of capital results in poorly developed infrastructure and a scarcity of health workers. Africa has one of the lowest health worker-to-patient ratios in the world, with 1.55 health workers per 1000 people.
A poor-resourced environment, coupled with the lack of digitization and automation, negatively impacts healthcare delivery, leading to medical errors and long patient wait times.
Less than 10% of healthcare facilities in Africa are digitized. Helium Health seeks to tackle this challenge by expanding the reach of its digital solutions to more healthcare facilities across Africa and helping under-resourced facilities deliver high-quality care.
To double down its efforts, the Nigerian healthtech company providing Software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools, financing, and insights to healthcare providers and public health organizations, has raised $30 million in Series-B funding.
The round was led by AXA IM Alts with participation from Capria Ventures, Angaza Capital, Anne Wojcicki (Founder of 23&Me) and Flatworld Partners. Existing investors Global Ventures, Tencent, Ohara Pharmaceuticals, LCY Group, WTI and AAIC also participated in the round.
"We are delighted to invest, through AXA IM Alts' impact investing strategies, in Helium Health’s mission of providing digital solutions to improve the quality and efficacy of health services in resource-constrained environments, whilst also directly equipping health sector enterprises with affordable financial services," said Jonathan Dean, Head of Impact Investing at AXA IM Alts. "This investment directly contributes to AXA IM Alts’ broader impact goals of improving financial inclusion and reducing inequalities globally."
With this funding, the company intends to expand the reach of its fintech product, HeliumCredit, arguably the leading digital finance product for Africa's healthcare sector.
Launched in 2020, HeliumCredit has extended more than $3.5 million in credit to over 200 healthcare facilities in Nigeria, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and diagnostics centres, which have used the loans to purchase medical equipment, medications in bulk, and expand their locations. With easier access to credit, healthcare providers are able to increase patient retention, increase revenues, and improve the quality of care.
Helium Health will also launch HeliumCredit in Kenya this year. According to a statement shared with Bendada.com, the company says it will increase its lending portfolio to 1,000 healthcare facilities by 2024 in partnership with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
“We believe in a future where good healthcare is a reality for all Africans, not just the few. We are deeply committed to supporting both private healthcare providers and public health stakeholders with finance, technology, and data to achieve that vision. We are delighted to have such seasoned healthcare investors accompany us on our journey,” says Adegoke Olubusi, Helium Health CEO and co-founder.
In this growth phase, Helium Health also looks to deepen its collaborations within the public health and global health communities, another core focus of its work. Global health funders contribute about 15% of total health expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa and play a critical role in tackling the continent’s leading causes of death, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and maternal and child mortality.
Helium Health aims to be the leading technology partner for public health entities by supporting the implementation of their programs and strategies in Africa. In the past year, Helium Health has received funding from organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for Mothers to execute projects under their maternal health program strategies.
The Company will also continue to scale its SaaS suite for healthcare providers, through HeliumOS, its Electronic Medical Records and Hospital Management Information System (EMR/HMIS) solution. HeliumOS helps health facilities of any size or speciality run their operations more efficiently, increase revenues, and improve healthcare delivery.
Used by more than 10,000 health workers to care for over 1 million patients, it is the widest-reaching EMR platform in West Africa. Helium Health is able to evaluate the creditworthiness of loan applicants and disburse loans as fast as 48 hours by leveraging its insights into the finances and operations of healthcare providers obtained from HeliumOS. The Company continues to record high loan repayment rates.
"We have seen first-hand the evolution of Helium Health over the years. The leadership team has a deep understanding of Africa’s healthcare sector and knows how to build products that meet its nuanced needs," Noor Sweid, Managing Partner, Global Ventures, added.