Why we invested: Assuraf is offering unprecedented insurance access to end-users in Senegal
Less than 1.6% of Senegal’s population is currently covered by any kind of insurance. This is below average across Africa (2.8%) and even further from the global average (7.23%). A lack of information, low public understanding of insurance products and benefits, and insufficiently developed and digitized distribution channels all explain low penetration. Yet gross written premiums have witnessed a 10%-15% compound annual growth rate since 2012.
Populations vulnerable to climate change need insurance, particularly health insurance, to build resilience. According to the World Health Organization, climate-related health emergencies are on the rise in Africa, accounting for more than half of public health events recorded in the region over the past two decades. Their analysis found that of the 2,121 public health events recorded in the African region between 2001 and 2021, 56% were climate-related. The medical research community now fully recognizes climate change as the “greatest threat” to global public health, according to an unprecedented joint statement in September 2021 by more than 200 medical journals.
Assuraf is a digital platform offering end-users access to a broad range of insurance products (including automotive, health, life, housing, travel, natural disasters, and agriculture) from over 20 insurance companies with a fully integrated claim management system on their website and mobile app. On the distribution side, Assuraf also offers a wide range of partners to access its in-house APIs and allows their respective customer bases to benefit from insurance products.
Beyond the digital broker model, the real innovation of Assuraf is around their positioning as a platform for both insurance companies and third-party companies with a large B2C audience to whom they can seamlessly offer insurance products through Assuraf APIs.
Assuraf is increasingly rolling out products directly targeted at lower-income and climate-vulnerable populations. Given the low penetration of insurance in the market (and across the continent), Assuraf is still uncovering entry points for selling households and businesses their first insurance product. Given that over 33% percent of the population in Senegal lives under the poverty line and an additional 40% live around the poverty line, their pathway to growth is focused on more inclusive products such as health insurance, agriculture insurance, and coverage for natural disasters. Of Assuraf’s customers, more than 50% are first-time policyholders and have never had health insurance before.
Today, health insurance and micro-health insurance represent a key area of focus for Assuraf. As temperatures increase and water and food security become more precarious, health risks for vulnerable populations increase, in particular with regard to mosquito- and water-borne diseases.
Health insurance will be a critical resilience mechanism for these populations so that they can secure the diagnostics, care, and compensation they need. Without such solutions, health episodes are a key driver causing households to fall into poverty. Assuraf has started a study on the potential of food/water/vector-borne diseases, allergies, and respiratory health issues to inform future products in collaboration with insurance companies.
Over 70% of the population in Senegal is employed in agriculture so Assuraf is also growing its agriculture offerings as a key pathway to scale. They have forged a strong partnership with an agriculture insurance company in Senegal on products like crop insurance, insurance against loss of cattle, etc. which could be coupled with a micro-health-insurance offer.
While agricultural products are fairly established, getting them to these populations is a critical barrier. Assuraf is hence constantly looking at deploying a broader tech & touch model leveraging online and offline channels to bring insurance products to those who need them the most.
With several thousand customers onboarded since their launch in late 2020, Assuraf is now growing at a healthy 20% month-on-month pace. The team is still in the early days of its mission but currently shaping to finally move the needle on insurance penetration in Senegal and beyond.
The Catalyst Fund model delivers outsized success compared with other accelerator programs. We accelerate startups that excel on three fronts:
- Impact: Catalyst Fund startups deliver (or, in the case of B2B firms, facilitate the delivery of) life-changing products and services to underserved populations. These can include financial services like loans, savings, insurance, and investment, but also access to productive inputs or essential services such as energy, sanitation, and water.
- Innovation: Our startups are pioneering game-changers that are innovating new products and business models. They drive the sector forward by demonstration effect and via the learning that Catalyst Fund documents and shares.
- Growth potential: Catalyst Fund startups are distinctively investment-worthy, developing businesses that are scalable, with high growth potential. Our startups raise more funding than startups from other accelerators.