It is often joked that, ‘You do not need a miracle, just have insurance.’ However, insurance covers remain elusive for many as a result of financial strains in life. This is more-so an uphill ask for smallholder farmers whose income fluctuates with the adverse effects of climate change. Trying to close this elusive gap is one, Rose Goslinga, a micro insurer and advocate for creating insurance for small-scale farmers in Africa and Asia. She leads Pula, a company that is radically restructuring agricultural insurance as Co-CEO.
Since its founding in 2015, Pula has been a great catalyst for micro insurance to stallholder farmers. The firm uses insurance and digital products to help smallholder farmers endure climate risks, improve their farming practices, and bolster their incomes over time. Over the period of its existence, 4.3 million smallholder farmers have been reached with insurance products which stretch to 12 countries in both Africa and Asia in partnership with 26 distribution partners across; Governments, input providers and credit lenders.
Rose Goslinga having grown up in Tanzania holds an MSc in Political Economy of Development from the University of London where she graduated with first class honours and a BSc in Business and Economics. Over the past decade, Rose has been part of teams pioneering the agriculture insurance, first with the award winning program ‘Kilimo Salama’- of the Syngenta Foundation for suitable Agriculture and now with Pula, an award winning Insure Tech. She has worked across East Africa at different capacities and at Pula she leads a team that develops and implements data driven financial solutions that assists millions of small-scale farmers across Africa and Asia, safeguarding their crop and allowing farmers to invest in their farms through financial tools that take advantage of the rising use of mobile technology.
Rose’s work in agriculture insurance has been recognized through several international awards, including the Financial Times/IFC Award for Sustainable Finance, Insure Tech 3.0, and the Singapore Fintech Festival. Furthermore, she is a Rainer Arnhold Fellow and Social Innovation Fellow from Poptech and a TED speaker, where she seeds innovation worth spreading.
Capital linked with this energetic social entrepreneur for a microscopic understanding of what her firm does to protect smallholder farmers. Excerpts;
Capital: You specialize in digital and agricultural insurance to de-risk millions of smallholder farmers across Africa. Can you tell us how this works?
Rose Goslinga: Pula an insure tech startup, provides small scale farmers with agricultural insurance to help manage the risk of enduring extreme conditions, pests and diseases. Pula works by sending enumerators to farms to get a representative sample in an area during the beginning of the farming season and harvest period to help gauge the potential of the season’s harvest. Pula’s business model helps insurance companies better understand the risks of small scale farming.
With an average premium subscription of $4 for small-scale farmers in Africa, Pula actually markets the insurance product to governments, NGOs, Banks, Solar companies and off takers rather than directly to farmers.
During the planting season, we send agronomy advice and tips to the insured farmers on better farming tips and also early warnings.
Capital: You recently closed a $6 million Series A fundraise; how can this help your operation?
Rose Goslinga: Yes, we are grateful for the Series A investments from our new Investors Tlcom and Women’s world banking. From this, we will be able to use the funds to expand our footprint in Africa and Asia plus also develop new Insurance products.
Capital: You operate in Ethiopia, can you tell us about the operation in Ethiopia and how it is helping small scale farmers?
Rose Goslinga: We have been able to work in Ethiopia with our partners Mercy Corps, Farm Africa and Nyala to provide to 12,906 pastoralists a takaful livestock insurance cover using an innovative distribution channel and we will continue to assist farmers with strong insurance covers both now and for years to come.
Capital: Insuring farmers is a risky business, how are you coping with climate change?
Rose Goslinga: Climate change is a big threat to smallholder farmers but with Pula, we can be able to offer a safety nest to cushion the impact of climatic change such as drought, floods, cyclone etc. Just the same way there is an increase in road accident, having insurance gives you peace of mind to go on the road because your vehicle is secured. Pula is here to give our farmers the peace of mind needed.
Capital: What are your future plans for African farmers?
Rose Goslinga: Our plan is to continue working with more governments, Mobile operators, development partners and various aggregators so that we can increase distribution of our Area Yield insurance and livestock Insurance so that smallholder farmers can have peace of mind to invest more finances and energy into their farms.
We also believe that we can maximize on the accelerated mobile penetration in Africa by working with Telco’s to offer more agronomical advise and alerts to the millions of smallholder farmers to help increase their productivity.
Capital: You are also looking to expand to Asia, can you elaborate on this?
Rose Goslinga: Pula will be expanding to Asia, targeting smallholder farmers as it has in Africa, with a focus on Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, and Pakistan. What we’ve realized is that African solutions are in no way inferior to Asian, European solutions.