OKO Finance, an insurance technology startup based in Mali and also operates in Uganda, has raised a seed funding of US$1.2 million for African expansion.
The funding investment was led by Venture Capital firms, Newfund and ResiliAnce, according to Disrupt Africa. Also participating in the funding round was Mercy Corps Ventures, Techstars, ImpactAssets and RaSa. The investment is expected to cement OKO’s operations in its existing markets and aid its expansion to other African countries with Ivory Coast topping the list.
The insurtech, which was founded in 2017 by Simon Schwall, provides affordable mobile-based crop insurance products for smallholder farmers. It uses new technologies in satellite imagery and weather forecasting to simplify and automatize claim management which helps in creating low-cost crop insurance for small farms.
OKO’s customer base in Mali is about 7,000 and it reportedly compensated more than 1,000 farmers affected by flood in 2020. Most of these farmers usually grow maize, cotton, sesame or millet.
According to Schwall, the company is committed to helping smallholder farmers who have been deprived of accessibility to the most basic insurance and loans for years.
“Agriculture is by far the largest source of occupation in Africa, with an estimated 33 million farms. And yet, farmers are deprived of basic financial services like insurance and loans. We are using technology to solve this issue and secure the income of those farmers”, the founder was quoted as saying.
Justifying the investment, Augustin Sayer, partner at Newfund, said the recent advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT) and data availability will accelerate parametric insurance in Africa.
“Simon and his team have built solid bases in Mali from which OKO can now expand in new countries and offer new insurance products,” he said.
OKO also assists the agro-industries, helping them with their sustainability goals and securing their relationships with suppliers. It ran a successful pilot project with ABInBev and Touton in Uganda.
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