Pula Raises $20M Series B to Offer Agricultural Insurance to Farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America | TechCrunch - Latest Global News

Pula Raises $20M Series B to Offer Agricultural Insurance to Farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America | TechCrunch

Since 2015, Pula, a Kenya-based insurance company, has been committed to helping smallholder farmers in emerging markets access agricultural insurance and protect them from losses caused by pests, diseases and/or extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.

To date, the insurtech has helped 15.4 million farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America get insured, and after raising $20 million in Series B funding, the company is seeking even more to build new partnerships, among other things, for animal protection.

Global investment manager BlueOrchard led the round with its InsuResilience strategy, which aims to provide access to climate insurance to vulnerable people in emerging markets. IFC also participated in the round through its $225 million venture capital platform, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Hesabu Capital and existing investors.

“Partnering with this group of like-minded investors to drive Pula’s growth globally is a very exciting milestone in realizing our Triple 100 vision to provide insurance to 100 million smallholders. What started nine years ago as an unconventional idea that many considered unscalable is now a proven solution that has met real needs of millions of small farmers in 22 countries,” said Thomas Njeru, CEO of Pula, who co-founded the insurtech with Rose Goslinga founded .

Pula co-founders Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru have an agricultural background. Photo credits: Anyway

Pula integrates insurance into its partners’ products

Instead of selling insurance directly to farmers, Pula has built a distribution channel with over 100 partners, including charities, banks, governments and agricultural input companies, to serve even hard-to-reach farmers, for example by embedding insurance into input costs or loans.

Each product offered by Pula is tailored to the requirements of its customers and the needs of the beneficiary farmers. The products underwritten by insurance and reinsurance companies are developed (including premium setting) through Pula’s digital actuarial platform and are based on historical data, including weather patterns and the frequency of events such as floods or droughts, crops, losses and inputs used.

Its collaborations include a long-term partnership with the government of Zambia, where the insurtech embeds insurance premiums into fertilizer and seed packages, reaching farmers across the country. In Ethiopia, the company partnered with the World Food Program, German development bank KfW and a local insurer, integrating insurance into the input voucher program that reached 122,000 farmers. And its impact will be felt soon after an outbreak of wheat rust disease in the Amhara region, where Pula is expected to make its largest insurance payment to date, estimated at $800,000.

Pula says they have seen increased investment, returns and savings among farmers using its products, underscoring the benefits that agricultural insurance brings to emerging economies such as Africa, where small farmers contribute 70% of the food supply but only 1% of it is insured . Inaccessibility, unaffordability and lack of awareness are some of the barriers to accessing insurance.

“Pula research in some African countries where we have provided insurance shows that agricultural insurance helps small farmers increase investment in their farms by an average of 16%, increase yields by 56% and increase household savings to increase up to 170%.” The distributions from our partner insurer, which have paid out almost over $40 million to 900,000 farmers since Pula was founded, also impact farmers’ livelihoods,” said Njeru.

“Ultimately, our impact is reflected in our renewal rate and growth. Eighty percent of farmer groups and aggregators that purchase insurance products developed in Pula from our partner insurers renew the following year, which is above the industry average and reflects our customers’ satisfaction with our comprehensive products.”

Building on the success of its crop insurance products, Pula will introduce livestock insurance in countries such as Kenya after completing a pilot program that launched in Nigeria last year. Pula, through insurance partners, provides rural families in Nigeria with comprehensive protection against banditry, disease and animal death. The company is also doubling its presence in markets in Asia and Latin America, scheduled to open in 2021.

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