Africa’s healthcare system trails other regions significantly. The continent, which constitutes almost 18% of the world’s population, contributes a mere 2% to global health expenditure. The continent also grapples with a scarcity of medical professionals, having just 2.9 doctors per 10,000 people. This shortfall is partly attributed to a ‘brain drain’ of medical talent. For context, South-East Asia has 7.7 doctors per 10,000 people, while the global average stands at 16.3. According to the World Health Organisation’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) service coverage index, which evaluates access to essential health services while avoiding financial hardship, Africa scores 44 out of 100, with the global average at 68.
Mikael Hajjar, co-founder of Africa-focused venture capital firm P1 Ventures, recognises opportunities in Africa’s healthcare imbalance. A notable company within the P1 Ventures portfolio, working to capitalise on this opportunity, is Reliance Health. Founded in 2015 as Kangpe, a telemedicine company, it initially promised “a doctor in your pocket”. CEO Femi Kuti, a medical doctor, was driven by the goal of making healthcare accessible and affordable in Nigeria.
Reliance Health has grown into an integrated healthcare enterprise. It now provides micro-insurance for medical coverage, 24/7 telemedicine support, and medical services through its private clinics in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja. The company has recently expanded to Egypt, establishing a presence in Cairo.
On the insurance front, Reliance Health primarily targets corporate clients, offering health insurance packages for employers to cover their employees, starting at US$50 per year. Its notable clientele includes e-commerce giant Jumia and financial services platform OPay.
“It is a very powerful model that has been scaling nicely and is now expanding across the continent,” says Hajjar.
Read our full interview with Mikael Hajjar: African venture capital investor reveals five sectors poised for growth