Agri-tech startup Pula sequred $20 mn Series B funding led by BlueOrchard

Kenyan agricultural insurtech Pula has sequred $20 mn Series B funding round, led by BlueOrchard, to help thousands of smallholder farmers in emerging markets gain access to insurance against floods, droughts, and other climate-related events.

Pula raised a $6 mn Series A round back in 2021, and has now banked a $20 mn Series B round that will enable Pula to scale its operations and significantly expand its reach over the next five years.

By bundling insurance with other essential products like seeds and credit, Pula is making insurance more affordable and accessible than ever before.

Founded in 2015 by Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru, Pula aims to mitigate risks for farmers and help secure their livelihoods against environmental challenges that affect crop yields, such as droughts, floods, and pest infestations.

Founded in 2015 by Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru, Pula
Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru, co-founders Pula

The global Agricultural Insurance Market is expected to witness significant growth at a CAGR of 7.1% during the forecast period of 2023-2030.

Although Africa has 17% of the world’s pastures and arable land, the value of premiums for agricultural insurance in Africa represents less than 0.7% of the world’s total.

This remarkably low figure is deplorable when one considers that about 60% of the active population in Africa is working in the agricultural sector and that with the advent of climate change the risks in agricultural activities are becoming even more frequent and severe (see abut Agricultural Insurance in Africa).

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.

Agricultural Insurance in Africa

The funding round was led by BlueOrchard, a global impact investment manager and member of the Schroders Group, via its InsuResilience strategy, while fundraising also came from IFC and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

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 mn smallholder farmers

Thomas Njeru, co-founder Pula

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,” said Njeru.

Since its inception, Pula has partnered with over 70 insurance, 20 reinsurance companies, and 100 distribution partners across the globe to deliver their innovative insurance solutions.

This has also helped develop the capacity of local insurance and reinsurance players to understand and underwrite agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers.

Pula’s main markets span across Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and they are expanding their presence in Asia and Latin America. These markets are managed from Switzerland and coordinated from the Kenya service centre.

What sets Pula apart is their innovative business model, leveraging artificial intelligence, on the ground data collection mechanisms, mobile-based registration systems, remote sensing, and end-to-end automation tools

Richard Hardy, private equity investment director for Africa at BlueOrchard

“Their digital platform has enabled them to expand into new geographies with ease and efficiency, all while keeping setup costs low. The Pula team has an unrivaled track record in the agricultural insurance space and is deeply aligned with our mission and strategy,” said Richard Hardy, private equity investment director for Africa at BlueOrchard.

“When Thomas and I launched Pula in 2015, we had one goal in mind – to build and deliver scalable insurance solutions for Africa’s 700 million 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,” Rose Goslinga said.

“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.” 

Pula utilizes a combination of technology and data to deliver insurance and digital products that help farmers manage risks more effectively. The company leverages satellite technology, data analytics, and agronomic modeling of weather patterns to create tailored insurance solutions that are accessible and affordable for smallholder farmers.

By addressing the unique needs of this demographic, Pula not only provides financial security through its insurance products but also facilitates agricultural development and poverty alleviation in rural communities.

Pula’s work extends beyond Kenya, impacting lives in over a dozen countries across Africa and Asia, helping to stabilize farmers’ incomes and promote sustainable agricultural practices.

Peter Sonner   by Peter Sonner