Nairobi-based Pula, an agriculture-related insurance technology startup, has raised $6 million in Series A funding to expand its operations in its existing 13 markets across Africa and also expand into Asia.
Pula snagged the funding from TLcom Capital and Women’s World Banking.
Launched in 2015 by Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru, Pula designs and delivers agricultural insurance and digital products to help smallholder farmers endure climate risks, improve their farming practices and bolster their incomes over time.
For smallholder farmers in emerging markets, the traditional method of calculating insurance through farm visits is often unaffordable for farmers. As a result, they often go without financial protection against climate risks.
Through its Area Yield Index Insurance product, Pula leverages machine learning, crop cuts experiments and data points relating to weather patterns and farmer losses to build products which help manage a variety of risks including drought, excessive rainfall, pests and diseases.
The company’s clientele include the likes of the World Food Programme, Central Bank of Nigeria, Zambian government and the Kenyan government. Pula has also launched an offering for livestock farmers.
Through its partnerships with banks, governments and agricultural input companies, Pula is at the center of an ecosystem that provides insurance to smallholder farmers and has amassed 50 insurance partners, as well as six reinsurance partners.
As part of the fundraise, TLcom’s senior partner Omobola Johnson will join Pula’s Board.
In 2018, Pula had raised $1 million seed round from Rocher Participations with support from Accion Venture Lab, Omidyar Network and several angel investors. Previous funders have included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mulago Foundation and Mercy Corps Social Ventures.
The company has a presence in Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
Maurizio Caio, managing partner and founder of TLcom Capital, said the potential for the insurance market for smallholder farmers in Africa is huge: “In Pula, we found a company addressing a hugely underserved market in one of Africa’s key drivers of growth and with this, an opportunity for major economic upside.”
Founded in 1999, TLcom has $200 million of venture capital assets under management across Africa, Europe and Israel. It also manages the $71 million TIDE Africa Fund, dedicated to technology and innovation for Sub-Saharan Africa at all stages of venture capital.
The TLcom portfolio includes Twiga Foods, Andela, uLesson and Kobo360, among others. It has completed successful Africa VC exits from Upstream, which was acquired by private equity firm Actis, and Movirtu, which was acquired by BlackBerry.
Founded in 1979, Women’s World Banking is the global leader in women’s financial inclusion with the mission to expand the economic assets, participation and power of low-income women and their households through access to financial services, knowledge and markets.