OKO, a crop insurance & finance startup wants to transform farming across Africa

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OKO, a crop insurance startup serving smallholder farmers in Africa is transforming communications with farmers across Africa to dramatically improve service delivery and provide enhanced customer experiences.

Present in Mali and Uganda, the crop insurance startup is using new technologies in satellite imagery and weather forecasting to simplify and automatize claim management, and thus creating low-cost crop insurance for smallholder farms.

“Our mission is to leverage the increasing influence of mobile technology to help overcome income distribution insufficiencies for those who feed the world. As a small startup, we needed a technology partner that understood the entire process, from integration to validation,” said OKO CTO and Co-founder Shezad Lokhandwalla. “We evaluated several options but following a demo from 8×8, we knew their Chat Apps API ticked all the boxes. Furthermore, being an approved Business Solutions Services Provider gave us the reassurance we needed that our solution would be approved by WhatsApp and Facebook.”

OKO provides effective, affordable crop insurance to farmers in emerging markets by using new technologies in satellite imagery and weather forecasting.

OKO simplifies and automates the claim management process, making crop insurance accessible to thousands of smallholder farms. It uses SMS to communicate and engage with farmers for purchasing crop insurance and sharing valuable information, such as weather updates, to minimise crop damage.

However, SMS communication was often limited and ineffective due to the low literacy rate of farmers. In addition, mobile carrier SMS charges were proving costly for this low-income demographic.

With more than 30 percent of their target farming population already using WhatsApp, which offered a more cost-effective method to exchange rich media content and communicate across voice, video, and chat, OKO is also integrating WhatsApp and other Chat Apps into their crop insurance service offering.

Using the 8×8 Chat Apps API, OKO is deploying WhatsApp chatbots to help automate specific customer engagement functions.

OKO graduated from the Techstars programme in 2018 and was listed in 2020 among the 50 most promising solutions for Financial Inclusion (Inclusive50) by Visa and MetLife foundation.