The healthtech market in Africa is expected to reach a value of $11 billion by 2025. Although it isn’t a major category like fintech, healthtech startups in Africa are making headway when it comes to investment and Nigeria’s Reliance Health is the latest healthtech startup to receive funding from investors.
Lagos and Texas-based Reliance Health has secured $40 million in a Series B funding round led by General Atlantic, the largest for a healthtech startup in Africa. Other investors involved in the round include Partech, Picus Capital, Tencent Exploration, Africa Healthcare Master Fund, P1 Ventures, Laerdal Million Lives Fund and M3 Inc.
Founded in 2016 by Femi Kuti, Opeyemi Olumekun and Matthew Mayaki, Reliance Health provides health insurance and telemedicine services through partnerships with hospitals and healthcare facilities. “Our mission is super simple. I mean, the definition is simple, but the execution is sometimes more difficult than that. So essentially what we’re trying to do is to use technology to make quality health care accessible and affordable in emerging markets”, CEO Femi Kuti explained.
Reliance Health is the aftermath of an initial startup called Kangpe founded in 2015 by the founders. Kangpe was telemedicine-based and brandished the “doctor in your pocket” slogan. A year into its operations, the founders realized how early the market was and the gaps that existed when it came to follow-ups, etc. “Back then, for example, if a patient chats with this doctor and he recommends an x-ray checkup or after that, a surgery, what happens next? We weren’t able to manage all those [end-to-end] processes and that necessitated sort of a soft pivot from the whole telemedicine focus thing to this integrated healthcare provider that we’re doing today”.
The need to revamp Kangpe led to Reliance Health which gives users access to a bundle of health-related services including telemedicine, drug delivery, etc. Reliance Health has two clinics and active partnerships with hospitals and medical centres, solving the problem of follow-up that Kangpe had.
Today, Reliance Health operates B2B and B2C models. Its health insurance plan RelianceHMO allows individuals to pay subscriptions monthly, quarterly or yearly ranging from ₦3,500 to ₦148,500. Businesses can also make subscriptions for their employees and this plan is a little cheaper than what individual customers have to pay.
Reliance Health says more than 200,000 individuals across its two models use its platform but its “business customers’ has the most retention rate. Reliance health serves about 600 businesses including PwC, Jumia and Biersdorf Nivea.
Explaining its health package, Femi Kuti added that “Essentially, what we try to do is to get guide people to the best option in terms of the care that we can receive. And regardless of that option is provided by a third-party partner or us, we are more concerned with how we work with the customer to guide them to the best option when it comes to accessing the healthcare data”.
Reliance Health says it has had an average of 3.5 YoY growth since 2016, and thanks to its latest funding, it will continue to focus on growth.
Managing Director of General Atlantic and head of EMEA Technology Chris Caulkin spoke about the company’s investment in Reliance Health. He said “General Atlantic is thrilled to announce our first technology investment in Africa in Reliance Health, backing a team focused on improving healthcare quality for millions of patients in Nigeria and abroad. We have been consistently impressed by Femi and Ope, who exemplify the entrepreneurialism and innovation we see across the African continent”.
The recent funding will also be geared towards building two more clinic facilities in Abuja and Port Harcourt, hiring more talents and launching new products that even Nigerians in other countries will find useful.
With Egypt on the top of its list, Reliance Health also plans to expand into new African markets. It has already hired a country manager for Egypt, and according to CEO Femi Kuti, Reliance Health will be in at least two new African countries before the year ends.