Insurtech start-up, OKO, has closed a Seed investment of Ksh. 129,480,000 ($1.2 million). The investment round was led by by Newfund and ResiliAnce. Mercy Corps Venture, Techstars, ImpactAssets and RaSa also participated in the round.
The start-up which currently operates in Mali and Uganda, uses satellite data and mobile payments to create automated insurance products for farmers whose fields are affected adversely by weather events, primarily droughts and floods. 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,” says Simon Schwall, founder of OKO.
The company already has paid about 7,000 customers in Mali and compensated more than 1,000 farmers last year, who were affected by floods. 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.
Commenting on the investment, Augustin Sayer, partner at Newfund, said, “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.”
Interested farmers only need any phone to connect to OKO. 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. “OKO has taken full benefit of the Orange Money platform to provide a service that is both innovative and inclusive,” said Aicha Touré, CEO of Orange Money in Mali.
The service offered by OKO is supported by regulators and has won both the Fintech Showcase Award by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. This represents financial regulators of emerging countries, and the SME award from ITU, the telecommunication governing body.