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Lagos Telehealth Provider Reliance Snags $40M As Nigeria’s Startup Engine Accelerates

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is also one of the region’s fastest-growing hubs for venture funding. And while rounds rarely match the supergiant sizes we often see in U.S. and Europe, they’re steadily getting bigger.

Today was a case in point as Reliance Health, a Lagos- and Austin-based digital health care provider, announced a $40 million Series B funding round led by General Atlantic. The company began operations in Nigeria seven years go as a telemedicine startup and later expanded into a single-fee health care provider.

Reliance’s Series B was the largest venture round for a Nigerian startup so far this year, per Crunchbase data. It’s also the first African technology investment for General Atlantic, a New York-headquartered growth equity investor. Given that the firm has $86 billion under management, that’s a bullish sign that deep-pocketed investors are taking interest in the region.

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In recent years, venture investment to Nigeria has mostly been trending upward. Using Crunchbase data, we looked at total reported seed and venture investment over the past four years:

2022 YTD: A total of $89 million has gone into about a dozen reported rounds.

2021: A record $1.2 billion went to over 2oo financings, topped by payments app OPay.

2020: Funding slowed some with $189 million in reported venture investment.

2019: Investors put $576 million to work, a majority going to two fintechs: Interswitch and OPay.

2018: Reported investment totaled $218 million, led by now-public online retailer Jumia.

Notably, sizable rounds to Nigeria-based companies tend to skew early-stage. That means there’s plenty of room for growth ahead—and even bigger nationwide annual funding totals—as the most successful early-stage players scale up their game.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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