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Cowrywise, Nigeria’s Wealthtech Startup Secures US$3M to Hire Top Talents

Cowrywise

Cowrywise, a wealthtech startup based in Lagos, reports having raised a US$3 million Pre-Series A funding round led by Quona Capital, seeing participation from Sahil Lavingia, Tsadik Foundation and a syndicate of Nigerian angels also. News suggests, this is actually Quona’s first investment in Nigeria as they show a belief in the investment worthiness of the Nigerian startup ecosystem.

Cowryrise sees this round of funding as strengthening their vision of making wealth management accessible to every Nigerian and moves the startup company a step closer to its medium-term pan-African ambition.

They shared that this meant a lot to them, to have the support of top investors who shared their vision of democratising access to savings and investment products to many in the country.

According to Johan Bosini, a partner at Quona Capital on how their visions aligned,

“Razaq, Edward and the Cowrywise team are providing everyday Nigerians with easy access to powerful and flexible wealth-generating tools that have typically been reserved for people who are already wealthy.”

He aIso added that, in a market of 200 million people, it is very impactful for the people to have enough control over their financial future. Describing it a wealthtech space and the impact it can have in Nigeria in particular.

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Cowrywise

Cowrywise platform mainly provides solution to the problem of access by using a combination of free wealth advisory and consumer education matched with savings and investment offerings that can advance financial inclusion.

Cowrywise
Cowrywise App. Image source, facebook

This latest round of funding is going to enable them, they say, expand product offerings, build newer investment management infrastructure, onboard more fund managers based in Nigeria, broaden financial education program and continue to hire top talents.

In welcoming their latest investment partners, they still acknowledge those who have been with them until now, especially their esteemed customers, the talented team at Cowrywise and early backers  including, Microtraction, who brought them to the world-view-changing experience at Y Combinator and Catalyst Fund.

There is a special mention of Cowrywise getting a sense of its market-creating opportunity for the product during Office Hours with Aaron Harris, a partner at Y Combinator. He is noted for saying, ‘Razaq, you have the opportunity to create the market’ was his response to the obvious challenge of how possibly small and underserved the Nigerian market has been.

For the wealthtech company, Cowrywise,

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“It is a privilege to be connected to a network of global investors supporting an amazing pool of innovators around the world. Cowrywise is leveraging that vantage position to solve local problems with the potential to create value that transcends generations for millions of Nigerians and Africans.”

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Funding

OKO: Insurtech Startup Raises US$1.2M to bring Innovative Insurance to Smallholder Farmers Across Africa

OKO

Insurtech start-up, OKO, that provides inclusive agricultural insurance to secure farmers’ income across Africa, has closed a seed investment of $1.2 million. The round was led by Newfund and ResiliAnce. Mercy Corps Venture, Techstars, ImpactAssets and RaSa also participated in the round.

The startup which currently operates in Mali and Uganda uses satellite data and mobile payments to create automated insurance products for farmers whose fields are affected adversely by weather events — primarily droughts and floods. With the new funding, OKO aims to strengthen its presence in Mali and Uganda and expand its offerings to more African markets, starting with Ivory Coast.

According to the founder of OKO, Simon Schwall, in a press statement said,

Agriculture is by far the largest source of occupation in Africa, with an estimated 33 million farms. And yet, farmers are deprived from basic financial services like insurance and loans.”

Simon also said they were using technology to solve this issue and secure the income of those farmers.

The company already has approximately 7,000 paying customers in Mali and compensated more than 1,000 farmers last year, who were affected by floods. OKO’s customers typically grow maize, cotton, sesame or millet. It also works with agro-industries to help them with their sustainability goals and secure their relationships with suppliers. Successful pilots were completed with ABInBev and Touton in Uganda.

oko

This convinced Augustin Sayer, partner at Newfund, to support OKO:

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“We believe recent advancement in iOT and data availability will lead to the rise of parametric insurance in Africa for the benefit of the local populations. Simon and his team have built solid bases in Mali from which OKO can now expand in new countries and offer new insurance products.”

OKO takes pride in being the most inclusive crop insurance available. All farmers need to connect to OKO is a phone (no smartphone required): they can dial a short code to obtain more information and pay through mobile money services. To achieve this level of accessibility, the company partners with mobile operators.

OKO, for Aisha Touré, the CEO of Orange Money in Mali, has taken full benefit of the Orange Money platform to provide a service that is both innovative and inclusive.

Daniel Block from Mercy Corps Ventures added,

“While other micro-insurance for farmers exist, we were impressed by OKO’s ability to partner with a pan-African operator like Orange and establish a direct consumer link, which allows for an exciting opportunity to drive deeper user engagement and expand to a suite of insurance products for rural farmers in the future.”

The service offered by OKO is supported by regulators and has won both the Fintech Showcase Award by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, representing financial regulators of emerging countries, and the SME award from ITU, the telecommunication governing body.

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When asked about the next challenges for OKO, Simon Schwall’s answer is clear:

“We need to find more partners who can bring our product to farmers, be it NGOs, agro-industrial players, mobile operators or governmental programmes. We proved that our solution is working and answers a strong need. Now we need to scale”

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