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Helios Investment Partners Backed Africa Specialty Risk Group Launches

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Africa Specialty Risk Group CEO, Mikir Shah

Helios Investment Partners (“Helios” or the “Firm”) is pleased to announce the launch of Africa Specialty Risk Group (“ASR”) in partnership with Mikir Shah, former CEO of AXA Africa Specialty Risks, and Bryan Howett, former CEO of Old Mutual’s pan-African reinsurance operations. ASR is a reinsurance business focused on becoming the partner of choice to corporations through the provision of comprehensive and bespoke risk mitigating insurance solutions.

Helios, through its extensive financial services expertise in Africa, identified an unmet need in the reinsurance space to expand the continent’s long-term domestic capacity beyond its current capabilities. Having previously founded market-leading businesses such as Helios Towers, the Firm
took a similar pioneering approach in partnering with Mikir Shah and Bryan Howett to develop and increase domestic reinsurance capacity.

Also Read: Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu, African Risk Capacity (ARC) CEO Shares Goals, Disaster Risk Solutions, COVID-19 and Future

ASR will create tailored solutions for local and global customers, using Africa-specific pricing models coupled with a deep understanding of African risk and cultural environments. This provides corporates and investors with the confidence to grow their businesses, thereby unlocking investment activity, and the associated developmental benefits.

Mikir Shah, commenting on the partnership noted: “We chose to work with Helios given their extensive reach across Africa, their knowledge and experience in our key markets, as well as their established track record in helping entrepreneurial businesses to scale.”

Souleymane Ba, a Partner at Helios, said: “We have identified a sustained lack of adequate insurance capacity across Africa, which has been exacerbated further by Covid-19 as global reinsurance providers focus on their home markets. ASR has been established to address this gap by providing specialist risk mitigation products which companies and capital providers operating in Africa have found difficult to access to date. As demonstrated in the US and Europe, private equity has a long and successful track record of stepping up to fill unmet insurance capacity to de-risk and support investment activity.”

ASR intends to work proactively with local regulators and clients to develop skills and provide training to local underwriters. Environmental, social and governance considerations are central to ASR’s values, particularly in relation to local capacity building.

The investment in ASR is being made from Helios’ latest fund, Helios Investors IV, L.P., whose investors include CDC Group (the UK’s development finance institution) and the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group).

Issued by Helios Investment Partners

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Press Release

Lami, Kenya-based Insurtech secures $1.8 million to accelerate digital insurance in Africa

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Lami team and press release (Source: Eva Barasa/Lami Tech/medium)

Lami Technologies, a Kenyan insurance technology (insurtech) company that aims to democratize insurance products and services for low-income Kenyans, announced today it had raised $1.8 million in seed funding.

The round was led by Accion Venture Lab’s seed-stage investment initiative that provides capital and extensive support to innovative fintech startups that improve the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the underserved.

Founded by Jihan Abass in 2018, Lami is a digital insurance platform that enables partner businesses — including banks, tech companies, and other entities to easily and seamlessly offer digital insurance products to their users via its API. Lami can also be used by partner businesses to manage their own insurance needs. Lami connects partner organizations, such as the e-commerce platform Jumia, with underwriters and allows them to offer a superior customer journey. Through its API, users can get a quotation for motor, medical, or other tailored insurance products in seconds, then customize the benefits and adjust the premium to suit their needs, get their policy documents instantly, and claims are paid in record time.

Lami’s services are enabled by its flexible insurance rating engine and direct integration with several parties and insurance companies. Lami co-designs innovative products with its underwriting partners to enable businesses to offer unique insurance products to their underlying customer base, with flexible options that meet their needs and cash flows, such as monthly medical policies for startup employees.

Jihan Abass, CEO & Founder of Lami (Source: Eva Barasa/Lami Tech/medium)

Jihan Abass, CEO, Lami, said: “This funding will allow us to invest in hiring more people, improving our technology, and growing our presence across Africa as we can continue to address the persistent insurance gap. At Lami, our vision is to help improve the financial resilience of millions by making insurance products more accessible and affordable for underserved populations. By enabling our business partners to offer customized insurance solutions, we are helping them provide more value to their customers while enabling large volumes of users to access insurance, often for the first time.”

Africa’s insurance market currently stands at a 3 percent penetration rate, except for South Africa, and is facing modernization and innovation challenges. Most insurance providers on the continent fail to offer flexible, affordable and tailored insurance coverage to provide a safety net for the African consumer. Low insurance uptake is partly due to the traditional distribution and administration of policies, mainly relying on brick-and-mortar channels where policies are sold and processed manually. This results in a longer processing cycle, poor customer satisfaction, and higher distribution costs.

Lami’s digital insurance platform leverages cloud computing, automation, and third-party service providers such as emergency and valuation, or identity and asset verification databases, to offer a comprehensive ecosystem for the businesses they partner with to develop, distribute and manage highly streamlined and competitive insurance products that are designed to meet their customers’ needs.

Since its inception, the insurtech startup has sold more than 5,000 policies and has partnered with more than 25 active underwriters, including Britam, Pioneer, and Madison Insurance, distributing more than 30 products available including medical, motor, employee benefits, and device insurance. As an innovator in the digital insurance space, Lami aims to continue diversifying its business by looking for new partners and building on its core technology.

Michael Schlein, President and CEO, Accion Venture Lab, said: “Ninety-seven percent of Africans lack access to insurance — a financial safety net that can help them build resilience against economic shocks. Lami helps address this need for consumers across Africa through its innovative approach that leverages technology and partnerships to help any business develop and sell insurance.”

“At Accion Venture Lab, we’re excited by how Lami is using technology to create a pathway for customers to purchase insurance that is specific to their needs. By embedding customized insurance within businesses that customers know and trust, Lami is making insurance accessible for underserved populations in Africa and enabling them to build financial resilience. “said Ashley Lewis, Africa Director, Accion Venture Lab

This investment highlights the strong commitment of all organizations to ensuring that financial services are made accessible and affordable for the underserved.

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Press Release

InnoPower Partners with Business Africa Online to Host Going Global Summit 2021

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – InnoPower LLC (InnoPower) and Business Africa Online (BAO) will host the Going Global Summit during the 2021 Minority Business Week presented by Eleven Fifty Academy and JPMorgan Chase, to be held June 14 – 18, 2021.

Africa is a fascinating continent. The old narrative of Africa disconnected from the global economy is fading. A wave of transformation driven by business and modernization is thrusting the continent from the world’s margins to the worldwide mainstream. There is tremendous promise in the dynamism and ingenuity of Africa’s entrepreneurs. The region’s abundant world-class innovation and talent are increasingly being harnessed to improve lives and generate wealth.

InnoPower is working to develop a stronger pipeline of awareness and access to Africa’s talent and solutions, especially in Nigeria and the West Africa region.

InnoPower’s partnership with BAO aims to develop a more robust pipeline of awareness and access to Africa’s talent and solutions, focused in three areas:

  • ENTREPRENEURSHIP: providing African entrepreneurs with access to resources, training, and finance.
  • CONNECTIONS: by introducing US-based businesses and service providers to Africa innovators.
  • ADVOCACY: increasing the viability of Africa as a region for economic development partnership.

InnoPower is an Indianapolis-based company deliberately designed to highlight the innovations in and for Black communities, create opportunities for capacity building, and provide a platform for creative thought and innovative entrepreneurialism. BAO supports and aligns with the movement. The two organizations have come together to be the change they want to see globally, especially in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the development and growth of Africa.

“It has only been about 60 years since Blacks across the United States and Africa were provided with true independence. The U.S. with the Civil Rights Movement and Africa with the end of rule by British, French, and other European colonizers. Across the globe, Africans are now competing in the global innovation economy while still embracing the uniqueness of our culture, environment, and resources. But there is still a lot of work to be done to close the gaps created by centuries of oppression. We are excited that we can be a part of sparking and nurturing this movement. Our partnership with BAO gives a bigger voice to the work that still must be done,” said Emil Ekiyor, Founder and CEO of InnoPower.

“Our team is thrilled to be working with InnoPower on the Going Global Summit 2021. BAO is at the forefront of powering the entrepreneurial mindset and enabling businesses in Africa. We are inspired and motivated every day by the incredible African innovators within our community and their desire to impact the world positively. By partnering with InnoPower, we are now focused on connecting Africa’s entrepreneurs and businesses with US-based investors and businesses,” added Alaba Ayinuola, Founder & CEO of Business Africa Online (BAO).

InnoPower’s 2021 Minority Business Week presented by Eleven Fifty Academy and JPMorgan Chase will be held Monday, June 14 through Friday, June 18, 2021. The Going Global Summit will be held on Friday, June 18, 2021. Both events will be held virtually, and registration is free. For more information, please visit bit.ly/InnoPowerGoingGlobal2021

 

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Press Release

Mastercard and Kasha Reinforce Commitment to Empower Women and Support Micro-Entrepreneurs in Africa

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Mastercard today expanded its relationship with Kasha Global Incorporated through an investment in the purpose driven ecommerce platform. The companies will continue their shared efforts to ensure women across emerging markets have essential access to health and personal care products along with the information required to support everyday hygiene needs.

Combining online and offline capabilities, Kasha’s platform allows women across rural and urban locations to make confidential personal care orders. By utilizing the full product catalogue available online, or by placing orders using basic mobile handsets, women can search, order and pay for hygiene products that are discretely delivered to them by local micro-entrepreneurs, thus also helping local store owners grow their business.

Mastercard’s investment is the next step on a journey the organizations have been on since Kasha joined Mastercard StartPath in 2019. Since joining the award winning start-up engagement program, Mastercard has worked with Kasha to integrate digital payment acceptance across its ecommerce platform, and most recently the partners joined forces to deliver virus, hygiene and protection products to families across Kenya in efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Kasha’s goal is to ensure women in emerging markets get the products, information and services they need for their health, self-care and well-being” said, Joanna Bichsel, Kasha’s Founder and CEO “I am thrilled that we are continuing our collaboration with Mastercard and that we not only have a committed investor with shared values, but also an innovative partner as we continue to take Kasha’s development and growth to the next level.”

Mastercard’s activities with Kasha directly support the company’s pledge to bring 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025, with a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions to help them grow their business.

“Mastercard works with governments, businesses and entrepreneurs to help them achieve their ambitions and is committed to applying its resources to drive sustainable and inclusive growth.” said, Raghav Prasad, Division President, Sub Saharan Africa, Mastercard. “Through our activities with Kasha we are leveraging Mastercard’s innovations, expertise and partnerships to help drive the empowerment of women and small businesses. This partnership is a major step in our journey to support the fundamental needs of women and drive growth across African communities.”

Mastercard’s investment will help Kasha expand its current platform offering, reaching more women, communities and small businesses than before and build’s on Mastercard’s efforts to bolster support for micro-entrepreneur and women owned small business in Africa through the Mastercard Track Micro Credit Program, known in Kenya as “Jaza Duka” (fill up your store in Swahili).   By leveraging Mastercard and Kasha’s combined capabilities, in collaboration with global consumer goods and banking partners, the partners aim to positively impact historically underserved communities across Africa and beyond.

Mastercard

 

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