This Nigerian Fintech Firm Could Provide Millions Of West Africans With Affordable Health Insurance

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Nigerian Micro-lender health insurance
This Nigerian fintech firm could provide millions of West Africans in Nigeria and Ghana with affordable health insurance that was not previously possible. Aella co-founders, Akanbi Wale and Akinola Jones. Image supplied by Aella

Health insurance is not common for many West Africans but a Y Combinator-backed Nigerian fintech firm hopes to change that.

Nigerian micro-lender Aella Credit, which participated in Y Combinator’s 2017 incubator program, has launched a new health insurance product that costs around $5 per month, according to TechCabal.

The average worker in Nigeria earns around $536 per month. In Ghana, workers earn an average of about $898 per month.

The affordability of the product means that millions of West Africans in Nigeria and Ghana could have access to health insurance that was previously not an option due to geographical or regulatory inaccessibility.

In some cases, Nigerians could not access health insurance because it did not exist where they lived.

Another issue that prevented traditional financial institutions from providing health insurance was the reality that offering such services to individuals would not meet the institutions’ minimum profitable threshold.

Around 5 percent of Nigerian adults have health insurance in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous country — 214 million people.

That means AellaCare has a huge market to tap.

AellaCare was born out of a partnership between Aella Credit and Hygeia HMO, a health insurance provider in West Africa.

The health insurance product gives consumers access to health services including consultations with doctors, pharmacy benefits, ante-natal care, emergency care, dental care, and family planning services, VenturesAfrica reports.

Founded in 2015 by Akinola Jones and Akabi Wale, Aella Credit offers financial products — savings, insurance, and loans — to low-income households and early-stage businesses in Nigeria, Ghana, and the Philippines via a mobile app.

Jones graduated with a degree in international business and finance from Howard University and has held investment banking roles at U.S. firms including BGL Investment Bank and Atlanta-based SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, as well as Switzerland-based UBS.

Aella Credit chief technology officer Akanbi earned a degree in computer science from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in Oyo State, Nigeria before working as chief technology officer at Lagos-based game production company Gamsole.

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In February, Aella Credit raised $10 million from Singapore-based HQ Financial Group in a debt-financing round.

Aella has raised $12 million to date including $2 million in 2017 when the micro-lender took part in the Y Combinator program in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator is perhaps the world’s most powerful startup accelerator program.