OKO Finance Provides Effective Insurance for Smallholder Farmers
OKO Finance is an insurtech startup based in Mali which provides cost-effective insurance for smallholder farmers and provides instant claim settlement.
Founded in 2017 by Simon Schwall who is also the CEO of the startup, OKO leverages mobile technology to provide a lifeline for local farmers plagued by the income inequality in their competition with bigger players in Africa’s agriculture space. Smallholder farmers who can’t afford mainstream insurance are catered for by OKO Finance’s insurance offerings.
Business Elites Africa sat with Simon, the founder and CEO of OKO Finance to discuss how the startup intends to further reach remote areas in Africa, among other issues.
Q: What was the most difficult part of launching OKO Finance?
There is this common misconception that in today’s business world, you can raise money with an idea and a cool presentation. But in reality, most investors still invest only in proven business models and in “mature” markets. So, when you are a startup like OKO that targets smallholder farmers with an insurance product that never existed before, it is very challenging to bring investors on board. It is still surprising to me today because I believe we are fixing a huge issue that is not going to disappear anytime soon. Investors struggle to see a business opportunity in agriculture, despite being the most common activity in the world.
Q: What would you say is the greatest strength of OKO Finance?
Our greatest strength is our focus on making a positive impact. Our generation is looking for jobs that are aligned with their values and want to have a positive social and ecological impact. The positive social impact that we are having on vulnerable farmers allows us to attract talents despite not being able to offer all the perks of a large company. It also makes it possible to find partners and funding as we can help large companies and organizations fulfil their sustainability objectives in terms of climate resilience and financial inclusion.
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