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Microinsurer Raises Sh600 Million to Power Growth in Africa

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Pula, an African InsureTech service provider startup that specializes in digital and agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers across Africa, has closed a $6 million (Ksh600 million) Series A fundraising. The Series A fund was led by TLcom Capital, with the participation of Women’s World Banking.

The new investment will be used to scale up operations in the company’s 13 markets across Africa. Currently, Pula has reached over 4.3 million farmers on the continent. The new funding will help propel its expansion into Asia.
As part of the new fundraise, TLcom’s Senior Partner Omobola Johnson will join Pula’s Board.

Launched in 2015 by Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru, Pula provides agricultural insurance and digital products to help smallholder farmers manage climate risks, improve their farming practices and bolster their incomes over time. For smallholder farmers in emerging markets, the traditional method of calculating insurance through farm visits is often unaffordable, meaning these farmers are often neglected from financial protection against climate risks.

Through its Area Yield Index Insurance product, Pula uses machine learning, crop cuts experiments and data points relating to weather patterns and farmer losses to build products catering to a variety of risks including drought, excessive rainfall, pests and diseases.

The company’s key client roster includes World Food Programme, Central Bank of Nigeria, Zambian Government & the Kenyan Government. Pula has launched an insurance product for livestock farmers. “When Thomas and I launched Pula in 2015, we had one goal in mind,” says Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Pula, Rose Goslinga, “to build and deliver scalable insurance solutions for Africa’s 700 million smallholder farmers and with our latest funding, now is the time to break into new ground.”

She said despite building traction, there are still millions of smallholder farmers with risks to their livelihoods that have not been covered. “In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers need assurances now more than ever and with this in mind, it’s time to scale up. Having TLcom Capital and Women’s World Banking along on the journey with us, opens up many more opportunities as we build across the continent and beyond.”

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Through its partnerships with banks, governments and agricultural input companies, has 50 insurance partners and six reinsurers. In December 2020, the startup was named as the “InsureTech of the Year” at the African Insurance Awards 2020 held in Lagos, Nigeria.

Maurizio Caio, Managing Partner and Founder at TLcom Capital, states: “Pula addresses 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.”

Climate change

Christina Juhasz, CIO at Women’s World Banking, also said given the legions of women engaged in small-hold farming and securing the food supply for communities around the globe, Women’s World Banking was providing financial safety nets against the risks of pests, disease and climate change”.

In 2018, Pula announced the close of its $1 million (Ksh100 million) seed round from Rocher Participations with support from Accion Venture Lab, Omidyar Network and several angel investors. Previous funders have included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mulago Foundation and Mercy Corps Social Ventures. Pula’s presence in Africa currently extends to Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

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