Pula Raises US$20 Million Series B Funding to Expand Agricultural Insurance Coverage Across Emerging Markets
Pula Raises US$20 Million Series B Funding to Expand Agricultural Insurance Coverage Across Emerging Markets
Pula, a Kenyan-based insurtech firm, has successfully raised US$20 million in Series B funding to bolster its efforts in providing agricultural insurance to farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Since its establishment in 2015, Pula has been committed to improving access to agricultural insurance for small-holder farmers in emerging markets, offering protection against losses from pests, diseases, and extreme weather events like floods and droughts.

The funding round was led by global investment manager BlueOrchard, leveraging its InsuResilience strategy aimed at providing vulnerable populations in emerging markets with access to climate insurance. Additionally, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Hesabu Capital, and existing investors participated in this significant investment round.

Pula’s track record includes providing insurance coverage to 15.4 million farmers across the targeted regions. With this latest infusion of capital, the company aims to establish new partnerships, including initiatives for livestock coverage, further extending its support to farmers in need and reinforcing its commitment to safeguarding the livelihoods of small-holder farmers against agricultural uncertainties.

Following the success of its crop insurance products, Pula plans to introduce livestock covers in Kenya after a pilot program in Nigeria. In Nigeria, Pula, with insurance partners, offers rural families comprehensive coverage against risks like banditry and disease. It’s also expanding efforts in Asia and Latin America, regions it entered in 2021.

Commenting on the news, Pula CEO Thomas Njeru, who co-founded the insurtech with Rose Goslinga, (main picture) said: “Partnering with this group of like-minded investors to boost the growth of Pula globally is a very exciting milestone in driving our triple 100 vision, through which we intend to bring insurance to 100 million smallholder farmers. What started nine years ago as an unconventional idea that many deemed un-scalable is now a proven solution that has solved real needs for millions of smallholder farmers across 22 countries.”

Instead of directly selling insurance to farmers, Pula has established a network of over 100 partners, including charitable organisations, banks, governments, and agricultural input companies. This network enables Pula to reach even the most remote farmers by integrating insurance into farm input costs or credit services.

Each insurance product offered by Pula is tailored to meet the specific needs of its clients and the beneficiary farmers. These products, underwritten by insurance and reinsurance companies, are developed—including premium setting—through Pula’s digital actuary platform. This platform utilizes historical data, including weather patterns, frequency of events such as floods or droughts, harvests, losses, and input usage.

One of Pula’s notable partnerships is with the government of Zambia, where insurance premiums are embedded within fertilizer and seed packages, benefiting farmers nationwide. In Ethiopia, Pula collaborated with the World Food Programme, German Development Bank KfW, and a local insurer to embed insurance into an input voucher scheme, reaching 122,000 farmers. The impact of Pula’s initiatives is evident, particularly in response to the wheat rust disease outbreak in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, where Pula is poised to make its largest insurance payout to date, estimated at $800,000.

Pula reports increased investment, yields, and savings among farmers utilizing its products, highlighting the potential benefits of agricultural insurance for emerging markets like Africa. Despite small-scale farmers contributing 70% of the food supply in Africa, only 1% of them have insurance coverage. High costs, lack of awareness, and limited access remain significant barriers to agricultural insurance adoption.

Njeru said: “Research carried out by Pula in some African countries where we have delivered insurance shows that agricultural insurance helps smallholder farmers to on average increase investment in their farms by 16%, improve yields by 56%, and increase household savings by up to 170%. Also, an impact on farmers’ livelihoods can be seen through our partner insurer’s payouts – which have reached close to over US$40 million to 900,000 farmers since Pula’s inception to date,” .

He added: “Lastly, our impact is reflected in our renewal rate and growth. Eighty percent of the farmer groups and aggregators that buy Pula-developed insurance products from our partner insurers renew the following year, which is above the industry average, and reflects our customers satisfaction with our comprehensive products.”

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