Pula Secures Funding from Global Investors to Support Smallholder Farmers in Africa and South Asia

18 April, 2018

Original source: Accion

Mollis, Switzerland – April 17, 2018 – Insurtech startup Pula announced today that it has closed a seed funding round to advance its efforts to provide insurance to smallholder farmers in Africa and South Asia. The round was led by Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of financial inclusion leader Accion, with participation from Omidyar Network, Mulago Foundation, Choiseul Africa Capital, Mercy Corps’ Social Venture Fund, and several angel investors. This injection of funds will enable Pula to invest further in its technology platform and service offerings.

Pula partners with Fortune 500 companies, global NGOs, microfinance institutions, research institutions, and governments to bundle insurance with seed, fertilizer, credit, and other farm inputs purchased by smallholder farmers, providing them with income stability. The partnership model enables Pula to reach large populations of farmers across several countries, and the bundling allows farmers to purchase and access quality high-yielding inputs and credit.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new partners to the Pula team. Their collective support, global expertise, and diverse industry knowledge will strengthen our approach as we target to insure the 1.5 billion previously unbanked and uninsured smallholder farmers worldwide,” said Rose Goslinga, CEO and Co-founder of Pula.

Pula uses satellite data and farm yield measurements to understand how weather patterns affect a smallholder farmer’s yield, and uses this information to automate compensation in case of loss. The company also provides farmers with targeted agronomic advice via SMS messaging, helping them grow more from their existing landholdings.

“Two-thirds of the world’s working poor make their living in agriculture, but reaching them can be a challenging and expensive task for insurers. Pula offers farmers a safety net that reduces risk and makes higher-yielding inputs and insurance affordable,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion.

“Pula’s experienced management team, unique distribution model, and strategic partnerships position it well to have a wide-reaching, scalable impact across geographies,” said Amee Parbhoo, Director of Investments at Accion Venture Lab.

Started in 2015, Pula has scaled its insurance offering across nine countries in Africa and South Asia. In 2017, Pula facilitated insurance coverage to more than 600,000 farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, and is currently piloting a new program in India.

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About Pula

 
At Pula, we are radically restructuring agricultural insurance, using technology to insure the previously unbanked, uninsured, untapped market of 1.5 billion smallholders worldwide. We work in nine countries across Africa and Asia, and in 2017 alone, we facilitated crop and livestock insurance cover to 611,000 farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Malawi. Our Founders work in agriculture insurance has been recognized by several international awards including the Financial Times/IFC Award for Sustainable Finance. We work with Fortune 500 Companies, Global NGO’s, Microfinance Instructions, Research Institutions, and Governments to help provide smallholders the protection they need in an increasingly unpredictable climate.

About Accion Venture Lab


Accion Venture Lab is the world’s leading seed-stage investor in fintech for the underserved. Venture Lab invests capital in, and provides support to, innovative fintech startups that increase access to, improve the quality of, or reduce the cost of financial services for the underserved at scale. Since launching in 2012, Venture Lab has deployed over US$10 million across more than 30 startups that work in over 20 countries worldwide. Venture Lab is a part of Accion, a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. Accion catalyzes financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of – or poorly served by – the financial sector. For more than 50 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through its work with more than 90 partners in 40 countries. For further information, visit https://www.accion.org/venturelab.

About Omidyar Network


Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Omidyar Network has committed more than $1 billion to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Digital Identity, Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com, and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork #PositiveReturns

About Mulago


Mulago is a San Francisco-based private foundation designed and built to carry on the life work of Rainer Arnhold. Rainer's passion was the prospect of a better life for children in poverty, and so the Foundation's work is focused on solutions that meet the basic needs of the poorest families. After Rainer's untimely death in 1993, his brother Henry Arnhold established the Foundation in its current form. We invest (grants, debt & equity) in organizations with a high impact scalable model to address basic needs of the poor. In our fellows program, we find and fund high-potential early stage organizations and equip them with the tools to design for impact at scale. Through our portfolio, we continue to invest as organizations deliver on the much-coveted "hockey stick" slope of impact. We fund on the basis of impact and the potential for scale. We do it with unrestricted funds and minimal hassle. For more information, visit: http://mulagofoundation.org/.

About Choiseul Africa Capital


Choiseul Africa Capital is a new Private Equity Fund Manager, which is majority owned by successful African entrepreneurs with deep interests and networks across the continent. Choiseul Africa Capital is currently targeting highly scalable small companies promoting robust, tech-enabled solutions that enhance carbon neutral economic growth and positively impact the lives of African citizens by addressing two challenges, green energy adoption and food security. Headquartered in Mauritius, it has offices in Paris, London and Lagos.

About Mercy Corps’ Social Venture Fund


Mercy Corps' Social Venture Fund is a seed and early-stage impact fund that invest in and provides a platform to accelerate the growth of disruptive startup businesses that have the potential to positively impact millions. In partnership with social entrepreneurs, we see complex global challenges as an invitation: to pioneer paths out of poverty, to forge innovative business models, to create solutions that break through entrenched challenges. Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, Mercy Corps partners to put bold solutions into action—helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Find out more about Social Ventures at Mercy Corps: https://www.mercycorps.org/innovations/social-venture-fund

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