Helium Health, a startup based in Lagos, Nigeria, has secured $30 million in Series B funding to expand its software-as-a-service tools and financing for healthcare providers and public health organizations. This comes three years after the company’s $10 million Series A funding and 18 months after a rare Africa-GCC deal with UAE-based healthcare provider-patient interaction platform Meddy. Helium Health’s product, HeliumDoc, is being used in Nigeria with East African expansion in sight, while HeliumOS is expected to be rolled out in the GCC. The new investment will allow Helium Health to drive growth in these verticals, but the fintech offering HeliumCredit will likely receive more capital concentration as the healthtech startup plans to expand its reach and increase its lending portfolio to 1,000 healthcare facilities by 2024 in partnership with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
Helium Health started out digitizing healthcare operations and electronic medical records (EMR) records for healthcare providers via software, providing them with data and analytics into various touchpoints. However, it soon figured that financing was another critical need facing its customers, hence birthing HeliumCredit. Africa’s healthcare sector is heavily undercapitalized, with a financing deficit of $66 billion per year. Healthcare funding disbursed by African governments declined by 8% over the last 15 years, and 57% of private health facilities in Nigeria never get access to external sources of funding. This lack of capital trickles down to the number of health workers that are employed on the continent; Africa has one of the lowest health worker-to-patient ratios in the world, leading to average wait times of around 2 hours.
Launched as a digital finance product in 2020, HeliumCredit uses billing and operational insights obtained from its HeliumOS software to assess the creditworthiness of its customers. The startup, which lends on behalf of financing partners, primarily banks, also pieces data from credit bureaus and traditional systems to strengthen its credit decision framework. Since the healthtech’s Series A investment, it has grown its credit from $250,000 to a handful of healthcare facilities to more than $3.5 million across 200+ healthcare facilities in Nigeria. These facilities have used the loans to purchase medical equipment and medications in bulk, expand their locations and increase their top line.
Helium Health claims to be the widest-reaching EMR platform in West Africa, used by over 10,000 health workers across 1,000 facilities to care for over 1 million African patients. The 150-man 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 the UAE), is also looking 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 wants to solve this by leading technology efforts for these health entities and helping them to integrate previously siloed public health program efforts with broader vertical and horizontal initiatives to create interconnected health information systems.
New investors in the Series B round include co-founder and CEO of 23andMe 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.