The JUA Kickstarter Fund, which will provide African entrepreneurs capital to expand their business ventures, has seen the funding amount doubled to $2-million. This addition makes the fund become the biggest African capital venture fund launched by private individuals.
The JUA Kickstarter Fund was launched by Africa’s industrialist, Adam Molai, in November 2020 with US$1 million made available for African entrepreneurs. A further $1-million has since been pledged by US-based angel investing and mentorship firm, Simba Global Startups which brings the total investment amount to US$2 million.
In announcing the additional funding, Adam Molai says the added capital allows the fund to make bigger investments in enterprises as well as fund more businesses on the continent.
“Simba Global Startups has pledged to match, like-for-like, our contributions which is absolutely incredible. This is an example of how Africans can work together to solve the challenges facing the continent. As an African entrepreneur who has experienced the grueling journey of establishing businesses, I firmly believe that Africa’s destiny lies in the hands of Africans.”
He continues that this new addition means it is not foreign investment that will provide Africa with a seat at the global table but domestic investments, a view actually shared by Simba Global Startups. This move is going to benefit the many entrepreneurs and startups who are growing economies across Africa as well as creating jobs.
JUA (JUA Kickstarter Fund), which means Sunrise in KiSwahili is going to provide successful applicants with funds enabling them launch or grow their businesses. They are as well benefiting from mentoring and guidance.
The application process is still ongoing till the 31st of January, 2020, electronically and funds are expected to be disbursed to successful applicants within 12 weeks of their shortlisting.
For the Simba founder and CEO, Dr. Philippe Kisunzu
“Born in the DRC, I am a child of the continent who grew up experiencing the atrocities of its civil wars. These intense challenges nurtured within me a vision for prosperity and hope for the people in my village and community.’
His deepest belief, he added, is that this vision is best attained when entrepreneurs create jobs which are scalable, profitable, sustainable and inclusive. With a JUA-SIMBA investing partnership, he agrees is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play an active role in making this dream a reality.
Two months since it was launched, the JUA Kickstarter Fund has received more than 500 applications across Africa. As you’ll have it, most of the applications so far are from countries like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Entrepreneurs from Ghana, Tanzania, Benin, Namibia and eSwatini have also made strong showings.
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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