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Helium Health secures $30 million, backed by AXA IM Alts and 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki

Helium Health, the African startup that provides software-as-a-service tools, funding, and insights to healthcare providers and public health organizations, raised $30 million in Series B funding.

The news comes three years after the Lagos-based health tech was awarded a $10m Series A and 18 months after a rare Africa-CCG deal involving the healthcare provider-patient interaction platform Meddy based in the United Arab Emirates.

Co-founder and CEO Adegoke Olubusi, in an interview with TechCrunch, gave an update on the acquisition. HeliumDoc, the product merging Meddy’s telemedicine capabilities and Helium Health’s revenue cycle management service, is being used in Nigeria with expansion into East Africa in sight. Meanwhile, HeliumOS, the core product for electronic medical records (EMR) digitization and hospital management solutions across Africa, is set to be rolled out in the GCC.

Indeed, the new investment will enable Helium Health to drive growth in these vertical markets. However, it is fintech offering HeliumCredit that will likely receive more capital concentration as the health-tech startup plans to “expand its reach…and grow its loan portfolio to 1,000 healthcare facilities.” by 2024 in partnership with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC),” through a statement.

With 90% of African healthcare facilities operating on paper, Helium Health began by digitizing healthcare operations and EMR records for healthcare providers through software, providing them with data and analytics across various touchpoints. But it was only a matter of time before she realized that financing was another critical need facing her clients, hence the birth of HeliumCredit.

The health sector in Africa is severely underfunded, with a funding gap of $66 billion per year. Health care funding disbursed by African governments has declined by 8% over the past 15 years, and 57% of private health facilities in Nigeria have never had access to external funding sources (although there this is the first point of call for many Nigerians) further highlights the dire state of health financing on the continent.

This lack of capital is reflected, for example, in the number of health workers employed on the continent; Africa has one of the lowest health worker to patient ratios in the world; 31 out of 54 African countries have less than 10 doctors per 1,000 patients, resulting in average waiting times of around 2 hours.

“In the process of covering all healthcare facilities with our HeliumOS product, one of the major challenges we discovered was the funding gaps in healthcare on the continent,” said the chief executive who co-founded the startup with Dimeji Sofowora and Tito. Ohia. “Many health facilities are making money and are profitable but cannot access finance in Nigeria and most countries in sub-Saharan Africa because banks do not know how these hospitals operate. HeliumCredit is basically us leveraging our end-to-end software product and providing a digital finance solution where our clients can apply for finance and get responses within 48 hours.

Launched as a digital finance product in 2020, HeliumCredit uses billing and operational information obtained from its HeliumOS software to assess the creditworthiness of its customers. The startup, which lends on behalf of financial partners, primarily banks, also collects data from credit bureaus and traditional systems to bolster its credit decision framework.

Since the Health Technology Series A investment, its credit has grown from $250,000 at a handful of health facilities to over $3.5 million at more than 200 health facilities in Nigeria. According to Helium Health, of which the overall business also boomed.

Embedded credit allows SaaS companies like Helium Health to scale faster in emerging markets, according to Olubusi. His opinion is based on the fact that despite launching several years later, HeliumCredit could make more money for the company than HeliumOS due to its outsized demand. “We noticed that healthcare institutions were trying to digitize because they wanted more access to finance,” said the CEO, who also mentioned that Helium Health was seeing high loan repayment rates. “And as they access long-term loans while we provide them with training and financial tools, they have more incentive to want to digitize because part of the reason why they haven’t been loaned historically is because of the lack of a digital system which we provide now.

the leaders of Helium Health; Co-founders Adegoke Olubusi and Dimeji Sofowora (middle).

YC-backed health tech startup claims to be West Africa’s largest EMR platform, used by more than 10,000 health workers in 1,000 facilities to care for more than 1 million patients Africans. The 150-person team spread across ten countries and operating in eight, including six African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Kenya and Uganda) and two GCC markets (Qatar and United Arab Emirates), is also looking to deepen its collaborations within the public health and global health communities, another central focus of his work.

Global health donors contribute about 15% of total health expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa and play a critical role in addressing the main causes of death on the continent, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and maternal and child mortality. The problem, hHowever, with these organizations they work individually, which further compartmentalizes the already deeply fragmented healthcare market.

Helium Health wants to solve this problem by leading technology efforts for these health entities and helping them integrate the efforts of previously siled public health programs with broader vertical and horizontal initiatives to create interconnected health information systems. . Over the past year, the seven-year-old health-tech startup has received grants from organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for Mothers to run projects as part of their maternal health program strategies.

Equity financing, on the other hand, came from lead investor AXA IM Alts, a multi-asset investor and subsidiary of AXA Group, one of the world’s largest insurance groups. One of AXA IM Alts impact strategies is to improve global financial inclusion and connectivity; therefore, its investment in Helium Health is strategic from the perspective of the startup’s health financing product, and also, as Olubusi describes it, AXA is “the number one provider of health insurance in most countries where we operate and the majority of the healthcare facilities we serve have contracts with it.

Jonathan Dean, head of impact investing at AXA IM Alts (also an investor in African fintech MFS Africa), in a statement, reiterates this point, referring to Helium Health’s game of “delivering digital solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of health services”. in resource-limited settings while directly equipping healthcare businesses with affordable financial services” as reasons to invest.

New investors in the Series B round – the second largest at this point for any African health tech after General Atlantic and YC-backed startup Reliance Health – include 23andMe co-founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki, Capria Ventures, Angaza Capital and Flatworld Partners. Existing investors Global Ventures, Tencent, Ohara Pharmaceuticals, LCY Group, WTI and AAIC also participated in the growth round.


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