Malian Insurtech startup, OKO has closed a Seed investment of $1.2 million. The funding round was led by Newfund and ResiliAnce, with Mercy Corps Venture, Techstars, ImpactAssets and RaSa also participating.
OKO uses satellite information to define the risk and create insurance products for farmers in emerging markets. These products are then distributed using mobile technologies. These also enable the collection of premiums and payment of claims.
It currently operates in Mali and Uganda. 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.
“Agriculture is by far the largest source of occupation in Africa, with an estimated 33 million farms. And yet, farmers are deprived from basic financial services like insurance and loans. We are using technology to solve this issue and secure the income of those farmers,” said Simon Schwall, founder of OKO.
Founded by Simon Schwall (a French national) and Shehzad Lokhandwall (an Indian national), 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.
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. OKO 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.
“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.” Augustin Sayer, partner at Newfund, said.
This announcement is an indicator that InsurTech is emerging as a major force bridging the gap of financial inclusion across Sub-Saharan Africa.