The African Insuretech service provider, Pula, has recently closed a US$6 million Series A funding round led by TLcom Capital and had participation from Women’s World Banking. It specializes in digital as well as agric insurance to derisk smallholder farmers across Africa.
This new round of investment to the insuretech startup will be used to scale up operations in the company’s existing 13 markets across Africa. Pula has so far impacted over 4.3 million farmers on the continent and the new funding will help push its expansion into Asia to power resilience and profitability for Asian smallholder farmers.
Pula was launched by Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru in 2015, to design and deliver innovative agricultural insurance and digital products to help smallholders farmers improve their farming practices, endure climate risks and bolster their incomes. This has become necessary because for smallholder farmers in emerging markets, the traditional method of calculating insurance through farm visits is often expensive, meaning they are often neglected from financial protection against climate risks.
The Area Yield Index Insurance product by Pula leverages machine learning, crop cuts experiments and data points relating to weather patterns and farmer losses to build products which cater for a variety of risks including drought, excessive rainfall, pests and diseases.
Their key clientele include the Kenyan Government, World Food Programme, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Zambian Government. Pula has also launched an NDVI Livestock insurance as an offering for livestock farmers.
Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the insuretech company, Pula, Rose Goslinga, spoke to the press on this Series A Round, saying when they launched in 2015, their main goal was to build and deliver scalable insurance solutions for Africa’s 700 million smallholder farmers.
Adding that, this latest funding allows for them to break into new grounds. They have since built strong traction for their products but the fact remains that across Africa and other emerging markets, there are still millions of smallholder farmers with risks to their livelihoods that have not been covered.
For Maurizio Caio, the Managing Partner and founder at TLcom Capital,
“In Pula, we found a company addressing a hugely underserved market in one of Africa’s key drivers of growth and with this, an opportunity for major economic upside. The potential for the insurance market for smallholder farmers in Africa is huge and under the leadership of Rose and Thomas, Pula has rapidly established a strong presence throughout the continent and has a number of high-profile clients on their books.”
He further expressed confidence in Pula’s potential for growth despite the pandemic and looks forward to engaging them as they execute the next phase of their journey.
Christina Juhasz, who is the CIO at Women’s World Banking praised the agric insuretech startup and says that, given the legions of women engaged in smallholder farming and securing the food supply for communities globally, her outfit was extremely delighted to partner with Pula Advisors in providing them financial safety nets against the risks of pests, diseases and climate change.
In 2018, Pula announced the close of its US$1 million seed round from Rocher Participations with support from Accion Venture Lab, Omidyar Network and several angel investors. They also had funding form the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mulago Foundation and Mercy Corps Social Ventures.
Thanks to their numerous partnerships, Pula is at the center of an ecosystem which providing insurance to smallholder farmers and in the process has amassed 50 insurance partners, as well as six reinsurance space.
In December 2020, the startup was named as the “InsureTech of the Year” at the African Insurance Awards 2020 held in Lagos, Nigeria. The new investment means that, TLcom’s Senior Partner, Omobola Johnson will join Pula’s Board of Directors.
OKO: Insurtech Startup Raises US$1.2M to bring Innovative Insurance to Smallholder Farmers Across Africa
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,
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.
This convinced Augustin Sayer, partner at Newfund, to support OKO:
“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.
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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