Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong. Take 2 mins to learn more.
In a country with 123 million people, where less than 1% of the population has access to insurance due to high costs and limited digital infrastructure, Jamii.one is transforming the insurance sector in Ethiopia. With its digital platform and collaboration with local community groups, Jamii.one aims to provide affordable insurance to shield families and communities from financial shocks. This blog post delves into the achievements of Jamii.one and its mission to create a lasting safety-net for Ethiopian communities.
We’d love to know about your career before Jamii.one and where you first found that entrepreneurial spark.
I’ve always been motivated to create something that will have a significant impact on many people. I am an economist by training and focused my training on microfinance and doing business in East Africa, consulted for a microfinance institute in Uganda and was responsible for a Danish-Kenyan business partnership early in my career.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial home and always had the entrepreneurial spark. But I felt that I needed to build skills before I would be able to realise my dreams. I joined PwC as a management consultant working supporting large business transition their entire strategy towards wholistic sustainability. After four years and a promotion, I felt I had learned what consulting could offer me.
Why did you choose to start your journey in Ethiopia? What other countries or markets are you considering?
When it comes to starting a business there are often talk of the 7Ts to as contributing to success. Team, TAM, Traction, Tech, Transformation, Timing, TenX. Research is indicating, that however unfair, timing is the most defining factor. We believe that the timing for Ethiopia is right. Jamii.one launched just as the country started opening to the outside world. While it is still an unstable context in some respects, it is also a nation of 123 million people that are radically underserved and that are difficult to enter right now, but not soon. This has allowed us a sandbox to experiment, get it wrong till we got it right, and scale comfortably, before competition.
What can you tell us about the market and how Jamii.one is positioning itself for success?
Our market is Ethiopia which has traditionally been closed off to the world but is now opening. Only recently, foreign financial services providers were allowed into the country and the once that are coming are still going through the regulatory process. As with most African countries, insurance penetration is extremely low, less than one percentage. This is due to manual processes, lack of data, lack of digital infrastructure to reduce risk and prices on insurance and make it affordable to the general population. That is what Jamii.one solves. We do this by leveraging existing community-based groups. There are more than 40 million people in Ethiopia organised under burial communities in Ethiopia. This is a practice that has been around for hundreds of years.
These groups assist their members on the costs and tasks around the burial when a loved one passes. But the groups want to also offer their members life insurance to support them in the life after burial. Jamii.one plugs into this existing system by providing a digital platform, and hence digital infrastructure, and lifting data from these communities into the platform and using this data to reduce risk and manual processes of registering the group’s members in a group insurance policy. We are the missing link that allow community-based groups access to products from the existing financial sectors. As Jamii.one works with data and not financial transactions or provision of insurance, we are not a financial service provider. For this reason, we are allowed to operate in Ethiopia while foreign insurance companies are not. That also means, that we can grab this market opportunity before others enter.
Why is access to affordable insurance crucial for Ethiopian families and communities?
In countries that do not have extensive financial safety nets and where families’ incomes are limited, any financial shock can push a family into poverty – or deeper poverty. Financial shocks can force people to sell the assets they have and rob them of the improved future, that they were building.
Insurance acts as a robust safety net, shielding families from unexpected financial shocks and providing them with a crucial breathing space during times of difficulties without imposing a heavy burden on their limited budgets. This concept goes well beyond Ethiopia and is relevant as access to affordable insurance on a global scale shield everyone from the impact of unforeseen events (death, unemployment, sickness, pandemic, etc).
Access to affordable insurance not only provides financial protection, but also plays a significant role in promoting economic stability and enhancing resilience in the face of adversity.
How has Jamii.one revolutionised the insurance sector in Ethiopia through its digital platform?
At its core, Jamii.one has championed the digitalisation of community-based groups. Jamii.one’s digital platform enables groups to digitalise their traditionally paper-based registries, helping to build these groups’ financial data and digital identity, while simultaneously improving their creditworthiness. In collaboration with local insurers, the platform has extended the reach of affordable insurance policies to previously under-served segments of the population. The platform also empowers insurance companies to efficiently serve this untapped market, thanks to its digital infrastructure that allows for lower costs and risk management.
Furthermore, Jamii.one is playing a vital role in promoting financial resilience. By offering affordable life insurance, the platform helps users to build financial resilience against unforeseeable events. The platform’s ability to streamline accounting for CBGs has increased transparency and efficiency, reducing calculation errors. In filling a significant data gap in the insurance sector, Jamii.one allows for better risk and credit assessment for the low-income segment. With a strategic partnership with the National Iddir Council and an emphasis on cultural sensitivity and offline availability, Jamii.one has effectively democratised access to insurance while promoting financial resilience among Ethiopia’s vulnerable populations.
How has Jamii.one collaborated with local community groups to build trust and bring technology and insurance knowledge to the people?
First, Jamii.one has been closely engaged with community groups and has developed its platform in collaboration with these groups. By involving the community in the development process, Jamii.one ensures the platform caters to their specific needs, which builds trust and increases acceptance of the technology.
In addition, Jamii.one promoters engage directly with communities on the ground to introduce the company, the concept of insurance and how it is relevant to these groups. This is done through a one-to-many training approach, with the aim to inform group leaders and create awareness. These leaders then disseminate the information about Jamii.one and the insurance products to their groups supported by information readably available in the app, creating a ripple effect of knowledge and trust throughout the communities.
Lastly, Jamii.one has partnered with both the largest civil society organisation (National Iddir Council) reaching approximately 20 million funeral group members and their families, as well as with various local government partners. This partnership further solidifies Jamii.one’s position within the community and cements the trust between the platform and the community.
What are the unique features of Jamii.one’s platform that make it accessible to users with limited digital experience?
Jamii.one’s platform has been intuitively designed to accommodate users with limited digital experience. Its user interface is straightforward, clean, and easy to navigate, which simplifies the user journey for individuals who may not be familiar with digital applications. To enhance user-friendliness, the platform also supports local languages, enabling users to interact with the platform in their native languages, thus minimizing language barriers. Recognizing the infrastructural challenges in Ethiopia, Jamii.one’s platform has been engineered to function offline, ensuring that users in areas with unreliable or no internet connectivity can still access and use it effectively. Additionally, the incorporation of a local calendar is a complex and useful feature that aligns the platform with local customs and practices, making it more relatable and easier to use for the Ethiopian community.
What role do Jamii.one Promoters play in creating awareness and employment opportunities within Ethiopian communities?
thiopia is a country of 123 million people. For every town Jamii.one enters, Jamii.one creates a team in collaboration with the local civil organisation, the council. We call these Jamii-Council (CJ)Teams. For each team we recruit on person parttime for coordination and two people for roll out, usually one man and one woman. By now, Jamii.one is creating direct employment for over 100 people on the ground in Ethiopia. The CJ teams are continuously trained and supported. They engage with local government at municipality level (woreda level) and their council’s member organisations to host event to raise awareness on the technology, Jamii.one and the insurance product. These events are typically attended by leaders of a group who bring the knowledge to their group. For support, they may call members of the CJ team.
What are some potential future developments or expansions that Jamii.one envisions for their platform and services?
We envision a platform that is even more engaging with the users, continuously educating and supporting the users and a service portfolio that address all the main needs of our users for increased financial health and protection.
In the next year, our ambitions is to double down on the Ethiopian market opportunity, grow our digital platform, expand our product offerings with two more financial products, reach a full million users on the platform and insure a quarter million people, which will protect an estimate 875,000 people, many of whom are children. This is an amazing opportunity of equally profit and impact and we are excited for this journey.
Jamii.one’s unwavering commitment to providing affordable insurance and catalyzing financial inclusion in Ethiopia has brought about a transformative impact. Through their scalable and user-friendly digital platform, collaboration with community groups, and the tireless efforts of Jamii.one Promoters, they have successfully bridged the gap between technology and insurance for thousands of Ethiopians. With ongoing fundraising efforts, Jamii.one is positioned to expand its reach to additional Ethiopian communities, fostering the creation of a durable safety-net that safeguards families from financial shocks. Check out the campaign page to learn more.