Kenyan Insurtech Startup, Lami, Raises $3.7m Seed Extension

Kenyan Insurtech Startup, Lami, Raises $3.7m Seed Extension

Kenya-based startup Lami Technologies has raised $ 3.7 million seed extension in its latest investment round to expand its insurtech product across Africa.

The extension was led by Harlem Capital, an early-stage venture firm that invests in seed-stage tech-enabled startups, focused on minority and women founders.

Participating in the round were early-stage venture capital firm, Newtown Partners; Peter Bruce-Clark, a partner at New York’s research-driven venture capital company Social Impact Capital; Caribou Honig and Jay Weintraub of InsureTech Connect, a networking platform for insurtech innovators, and senior members from Exotix Advisory, a corporate finance and M&A boutique focused on emerging and developing markets.

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Lami launched its first product in 2020, and has been building and distributing an end-to-end digital insurance platform and API that allows businesses in different sectors to create tailored insurance solutions for their customers.

The extension follows the $1.8 million round it secured last year. The round was led by seed-stage investment firm Accion Venture Lab, and had the participation of AAIC, Consonance, P1 Ventures, Acuity Ventures, The Continent Venture Partners, and Future Africa.

Lami technologies was founded in 2018 by its CEO Jihan Abass to take on the challenge of low insurance uptake in Africa. The insurance sector in Africa has been held back due to poor innovation, which has resulted in the sector’s backward operation that depends mainly on the traditional paper-based systems.

Abass told TechCrunch that the newly raised fund will be used to offer additional insurance product lines, while also revealing that the startup has made an entry into Egypt and Nigeria. All this against the backdrop of a $3.7 million seed extension raised in a round led by Harlem Capital — which invests in minority and women founders.

“Lami is pioneering innovation in the insurance sector, and we are glad to have secured the right partners to help drive insurance uptake across Africa. We are looking to make insurance easily accessible to everyone on the continent, and we will continually be unveiling more products that confirm this resolve,” she said.

Speaking about using strategy to drive growth, Abass said that Lami plans to continuously innovate as they explore new ways of increasing insurance penetration across the continent — which currently stands at below 3%.

“On the technology side we want to cater to the entire insurance ecosystem. So, it’s not only the digital platforms that want to sell insurance products, but also to help existing players be more efficient in their distribution of products, allowing them to play a role in increasing the insurance penetration level. This includes agents and brokers — we are looking into how we can empower them to sell more policies,” she said.

The company said that the total insurance penetration in Africa stands at 2.78 percent, far below the global average of 7.23 percent, according to the African Insurance Organisation. This is despite research showing that expanding Africa’s lucrative insurance market could fast-track inclusive prosperity in the region.

As part of its efforts and strategy to bridge the gap, Lami seeks to use technologies that make insurance affordable through ‘bite-sized’ premiums. For example, the company’s partnership with logistics startup Sendy led to the development of a cover that insures goods per trip with premiums starting at US$ 0.21 for goods valued at US$85. The product covers goods worth up to US$ 7,600. Claims through Lami are also processed in record time — under one week — against the 90-day average across the industry.

Another move by Lami is to work with underwriters in different markets to create an all-risk cover for buy now pay later (BNPL) transactions. The cover, which was necessitated by the rising popularity of BNPL products in sub-Saharan Africa, insures against payment default through death, disability, job loss and many other circumstances.

In addition, the startup is making leadership changes that it believes will help to achieve its goals. It has appointed its current CFO, Roy Perlot, as a co-founder. Perlot has been with the company since 2020 and has contributed to its growth having brought extensive strategic leadership with his in-depth experience across Africa.

Also, Lami is investing in research for innovation development that will spur growth. By doing so, the firm has developed an insurance cover for consumer products like mobile phones, which can now be insured at the point of purchase through Lami’s e-commerce partners. This has been fast-tracked by the startup’s mission of developing efficient strategies for its partners to offer seamless and affordable insurance products to their people through its API platform.

The startup is also an onboarding partnership as a strategy for growth. Earlier this year, Lami integrated Bluewave’s micro-insurance partnerships into its portfolio further enhancing its B2B2C capabilities through diverse channels as it expanded into Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a result, in the last three months, Lami has closed over 15 B2B2C partners split across human resource management, logistics and BNPL, with a combined reach of 3 million people.

Lami has a growing number of partners and clients across the African market. Sendy, which enables freight carriers in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) to access transit insurance on a per-trip basis, and also Kwara, to make insurance products accessible to the over 60,000 SACCO (credit union) members. Other clients are e-commerce platform Jumia, retail B2B and end-to-end distribution platform MarketForce and Stanbic Bank Insurance — which uses Lami’s technology to power bancassurance products.

Harlem Capital said they were attracted to Lami by its use of innovation to solve modern day financial problems, thus driving growth.

“We believe the next wave of fintech will embed financial products and services like insurance into a customer’s purchase experience. Lami’s approach to serving people through strategic partners in eCommerce and finance is the best way to build trust with users and deliver insurance in a seamless, accessible way to Africans across the continent. Lami’s impressive growth to date shows that this resonates with customers and have a strong trajectory as they expand across the continent,” Harlem Capital Principal Gabby Cazeau said.

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