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PRESS RELEASE: Greater economic resilience for women farmers using digital micro-insurance and capacity building

In January 2021, the African Development Bank’s initiative, the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), and Pula Advisors, signed the agreement for a USD 1 million initiative to support women smallholder farmers to develop greater resilience and improve crop production.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FA0) estimates that nearly half the smallholder farmers in Africa are women, but they are significantly under-represented in the adoption of insurance services and knowledge-sharing for improved farm practices. Recent events have highlighted the need to strengthen the capacities of vulnerable groups. Risk mitigation and improved farming practices could have a lasting positive impact on agricultural yields of smallholder farmers and contribute to their long-term economic resilience to increasing natural and economic shocks.
 
Without deeper understanding of the endemic barriers to greater inclusion for women smallholder farmers, the gender gap will increase. Pula has structured a human centred design (HCD) research approach, tallied with the crop seasons, for Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria. This approach, although well-established in other industries, is relatively new in the insurance sector.
 
The grant from ADFI supports the scaling of existing technology that Pula has tested, as well as the development of new technology innovations tailored to women’s needs. The project will leverage extensive data that Pula has, including that from satellite technology combined with market insights and direct interactions with women. ADFI and Pula will work on gathering the insights emerging from the above workstreams to then share as valuable learning for scaling digital financial solutions for farmers in Africa and women smallholder farmers in particular.
 
“Women farmers are part of the backbone of the African economy yet lack the support they need for risk mitigation and to build their agricultural knowledge,“ said ADFI Coordinator, Sheila Okiro. “We are delighted to award Pula Advisors this grant to further our common aim to better understand how gender plays a role in insurance registration decisions among this group, as well as ways enterprises can help bridge the gender gap.”
 
“Without women tending the crops we would struggle to feed the world, but women have different considerations, priorities and constraints as they choose what crop to grow, where to invest and how to manage risks. For example as part of this project we look to target ginger farmers with Commodity Exchange AFEX Nigeria, who found that ginger is a crop that is disproportionately grown by women. We believe that a strategic and tailored approach towards women farmers can disproportionately grow rural wealth and we are delighted to work with a venerable institution like the African Development Bank to grow the productivity of women farmers,” said Rose Goslinga, CEO of Pula.
 
This project was selected from nearly 340 proposals sent in response to ADFI’s call in July 2019 to support financial inclusion in Africa using digital technology. ADFI was looking for innovative thinking that can be scaled up to improve the livelihoods of millions of Africans, particularly those at the bottom of the pyramid, namely women, young people, rural dwellers and farmers. These groups remain persistently excluded from the finance sector and the mechanisms it offers to help build economic resilience.

This project, one of 8 which have been approved from the first Call for Proposals, will be undertaken over a 3-year time frame with three phases, namely product development, piloting and scaling. The outcomes are expected to benefit 360,000 farmers, 50% of them women, as well as boost farm yields by up to 30% which will have a direct impact on incomes and so enhance household and national food security.  

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About the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI)
ADFI works to catalyse greater digital financial inclusion across Africa and to close the gender gap through support for enabling infrastructures, policies and regulatory environments that can contribute to systemic change and the development of evidence-led sustainable digital financial solutions. Established in 2019, ADFI is a multi-donor fund that will deploy $400 million in grants and loans to ensure 332 million more Africans – of whom 60% are women – have access to finance by 2030 by scaling innovative digital financial services and increasing integration throughout the continent.  For more information: www.adfi.org  

About Pula
Pula is an agricultural insurance and technology service provider that designs and delivers agriculture insurance and digital products that help smallholder farmers endure climate risks, improve their farming practices and bolster their incomes over time. Currently Pula has insured 4.3 million smallholder farmers across 13 countries and won numerous awards including the Singapore Fintech Award, Women World Banking award, African Insurance award and the Credit Suisse Innovation Award. For more information: www.pula.io

For more information please contact:
Lou Simpson, ADFI: l.simpson@afdb.org
Cedrick Todwell, Pula: cedrick@pula.io

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