Pula, an African InsureTech service provider startup that specialises in digital and agricultural insurance to derisk millions of smallholder farmers across Africa, has closed a $6mn Series A fundraise. 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 existing 13 markets across Africa. Currently, Pula has impacted over 4.3mn farmers on the continent and the new funding will also help propel its expansion into Asia to power resilience and profitability for Asian smallholder farmers.
Launched in 2015 by Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru, Pula designs and delivers innovative agricultural insurance and digital products to help smallholder farmers endure 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 for farmers, meaning these farmers are often neglected from financial protection against climate risks.
Through its Area Yield Index Insurance product, Pula leverages machine learning, crop cuts experiments and data points relating to weather patterns and farmer losses to build products which cater for a variety of risks including drought, excessive rainfall, pests and diseases. The company’s key clientele include the likes of the World Food Programme, Central Bank of Nigeria, Zambian Government & the Kenyan Government. Pula has also launched an NDVI Livestock insurance as an offering for livestock farmers.
Speaking on the new fundraise, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Pula, Rose Goslinga, says “When Thomas and I launched Pula in 2015, we had one goal in mind – to build and deliver scalable insurance solutions for Africa’s 700mn smallholder farmers and with our latest funding, now is the time to break into new ground. In our five years since launching, we’ve built strong traction for our products but the fact remains that across Africa and other emerging markets, 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.”
Through its partnerships with banks, governments and agricultural input companies, Pula is at the centre of an ecosystem which provides insurance to smallholder farmers and has amassed 50 insurance partners, as well as six reinsurance partners. In December 2020, the startup was named as the “InsurTech of the Year” at the African Insurance Awards 2020 held in Lagos, Nigeria. As part of the new fundraise, TLcom’s Senior Partner Omobola Johnson will join Pula’s Board.
Maurizio Caio, Managing Partner and Founder at TLcom Capital state “In Pula, we found a company addressing 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 and under the leadership of Rose and Thomas, Pula has rapidly established a strong presence throughout the continent and has a number of high-profile clients on their books. We are confident of Pula’s potential for growth in spite of the pandemic and look forward to partnering with them as they execute the next phase of their journey.”
Christina Juhasz, CIO at Women’s World Banking, also states “Given the legions of women engaged in small-hold farming and securing the food supply for communities around the globe, Women’s World Banking is delighted to partner with Pula Advisors in providing them financial safety nets against the risks of pests, disease and climate change”.
In 2018, Pula announced the close of its $1mn 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 and the company presence in Africa currently extends to Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.