Malian insurtech startup OKO, which aims to provide smallholder farmers with financial security, has raises US$1.2 million in seed funding for expansion into more African countries.
Founded in 2017, OKO develops affordable mobile-based crop insurance products for smallholder farmers. Accessible to anyone with a phone, claim payments on OKO are automated using satellite data and images.
The startup, which currently operates in Mali and Uganda, has closed a US$1.2 million seed round of investment, led by Newfund and ResiliAnce. Mercy Corps Ventures, Techstars, ImpactAssets and RaSa also participated in the round, which will be used to strengthen OKO’s presence in its existing markets and expand into new ones, starting with Ivory Coast.
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.
“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,” said Simon Schwall, founder of OKO. “We are using technology to solve this issue and secure the income of those farmers”.
Augustin Sayer, partner at Newfund, said his firm believed recent advancements 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,” he said.