Jamii.one is a Danish company with the ambition to revolutionise the insurance sector, specifically within Ethiopia, by using its digital platform and collaboration with local communities to provide access to affordable insurance and shield Ethiopian families and communities from financial shock. Fewer than 1% of Ethiopians have life insurance due to high costs and a lack of digital infrastructure and data. Jamii.one aims to provide a lasting safety-net for Ethiopian communities and families.
Jamii.one’s community fundraising campaign with Seedrs concluded in May 2023, raising almost 4x the initial target to receive €790,000 from 156 investors. We sat down with the CEO and Co-Founder, Charlotte Rønje, who shares more about her experience raising funds on Seedrs.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and where the idea of Jamii.one came from?
My name is Charlotte and I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Jamii.one. I’ve always been motivated to create something that will have a significant impact on many people. I am an Economist by training, focusing on microfinance and doing business in East Africa. I also previously consulted for a microfinance institute in East Africa.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial home and always had the entrepreneurial spark, but felt that I needed to build skills before I could realise my dreams. I built a Danish-Kenyan partnership in 2012 and consulted for a microfinance institute in Uganda 2013-14. In 2014, I joined PwC as a management consultant, working with business strategy transformation towards sustainability for Denmark’s largest companies.
After four years in PwC and with inspiration from the innovations in blockchain and a hackathon for community groups in Africa, the skill and inspiration to the solution was in place and I founded Jamii.one, adding my founding partner and CTO two months later, and my founding partner and COO four months later.
We launched Jamii.one in 2018 and tested in five African countries, ultimately selecting Ethiopia as the starting point. For the first three years we tested with different segments and gave access to loans. In September 2021 we pivoted to a new segment and to offering access to insurance instead of loans. By then we had 20,000 users. Since then, we’ve had exponential user growth, reaching more than 730,000 users today. The insurance is also taking off with more than 88,000 insured at this point.
In 2023 alone, we have been awarded three prizes for Innovation, Digital Value Proposition and Impact and were recognised by the UN for our potential as an impactful technology. In addition, we have raised €1M this year in combined investment and grant funding.
What are you doing that sets Jamii.one apart and makes your business unique?
Jamii.one is the only InsurTech offering access to affordable insurance at scale in Ethiopia, a country of 123 million people. We are able to do so based on our model combining a community-based approach, digital infrastructure and partnership strategy.
- Community-Based Approach: Jamii.one digitalises community-based groups (CBGs) in Ethiopia, with a focus on funeral associations. This approach leverages existing societal infrastructure and deeply ingrained trust within local communities across Ethiopia. By preserving and enhancing these relationships, Jamii.one not only digitalises the financial paper ledgers of these groups but also respects and strengthens the cultural fabric of these communities. This unique strategy allows Jamii.one to effectively reach and address the needs of such groups.
- Digital Infrastructure: Jamii.one is committed to providing affordable insurance options to low-income and underserved communities. The company’s digital platform eliminates many of the administrative and operational overheads associated with traditional insurance, making insurance products more accessible and cost-effective. Jamii.one’s digital infrastructure connects CBGs with insurance products that are catered to their needs, creating a streamlined and efficient platform for accessing insurance. This dedication to financial inclusion is a unique aspect of Jamii.one’s mission and allows more people to have access to products that help secure their financial future.
- Partnership Strategy: Jamii.one has secured a significant partnership as the digital partner to the National Iddir Council, responsible for overseeing funeral associations in Ethiopia. This partnership extends to the digitalisation of approximately 20 million funeral group members. This gives Jamii.one a distinct first-mover advantage in the sector, as there are no other companies currently digitising community-based groups for insurance on this scale in Ethiopia. This pioneering role positions Jamii.one at the forefront of innovation and establishes the company as a trusted leader in the industry.
By combining these factors, Jamii.one not only introduces innovative technology but also fosters trust and engagement, ultimately differentiating itself in the InsurTech landscape of Ethiopia.
Why did you choose to raise through your community and why did you choose Seedrs over other European fundraising platforms?
Jamii.one is built with communities for communities. With every step of the journey, we have co-designed the digital platform and products with our end-users and strived for inclusivity. This meant it was only natural for us to raise funding which allows for access to ownership of the platform through our community.
Raising funding for a company operating in Africa, especially Ethiopia, is very difficult. Despite this challenge, we were able to secure one of the only institutional investors focusing on Ethiopia, American based VC Renew Capital which co-invested in this round on the same terms as the community. We chose Seedrs as it was one of the largest platforms with a strong community focus and available in the US.
Seedrs is a great platform with a strong team to support you through the process of motivating your community to get involved as investors in your businesses.
What has the impact of the Seedrs raise been on Jamii.one and what are you using your proceeds for?
The Seedrs raise was instrumental in securing investment both through the campaign as well as offline investments as it made it clear to everyone that we were raising, what the price was and when the close would take place. This was a strong tool for you as a founder to drive your investment round rather than the investors driving the timing.
We are using the investment to scale our technology, user-reach and for product offerings to take us to breakeven and create the foundation for international expansion.
What advice would you offer to other founders seeking to raise capital?
Crowdfunding is impactful in itself as it enables everyone access to investing in your company and not just an elite. If you have a large community that loves your product, crowdfunding is your route. You can still have institutional investors.
Any other general advice for entrepreneurs looking to run their own businesses?
Just do it! The worst thing that can happen is that you will learn 10x what you would have learned at the same time in a normal job. Found with your heart. Even hardcore VCs know that the founders that make it big are usually the ones that are motivated about solving an issue with their innovation rather than on making a profit. This way, you will create a solution that solves a real problem, not just a replica of something that has been solved. And when you choose to work with what you are passionate about, then you will naturally outperform those who are just in the sector because that is where they ended up, because you care so much more.
Looking to raise funds through your community?
Apply to raise on Seedrs here and our team of fundraising experts will be in touch.