Malian insurtech startup OKO raises $1.2m for expansion across Africa

OKO, a Malian insurtech company that seeks to provide financial security to smallholder farmers, has raised US$1.2 million in seed funding to expand into other African countries.

OKO, which was established in 2017, creates low-cost mobile-based crop insurance solutions for smallholder farmers. Claim payments on OKO are automated using satellite data and photographs and are accessible to anybody with a phone.

Newfund and ResiliAnce led a seed round of investment in the startup, which is currently operating in Mali and Uganda. Mercy Corps Ventures, Techstars, ImpactAssets, and RaSa were among the investors in the round, which would be used to boost OKO’s existing markets and extend into new ones, beginning with Ivory Coast.

In Mali, the company now has over 7,000 paying clients and paid over 1,000 farmers who were affected by floods last year. Maize, cotton, sesame, and millet are the most popular crops grown by OKO’s customers. OKO also assists agro-industries in achieving their sustainability targets and securing their supplier partnerships. In Uganda, successful pilots with ABInBev and Touton were completed.

“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”.

According to Augustin Sayer, a partner at Newfund, recent developments in IoT and data access would contribute to the growth of parametric insurance in Africa, which will support local communities.

“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.