As a rideshare driver in Karatina, Kenya, Charles Mathenge’s income depends on his car. After a collision, he was lucky to be physically unharmed, but his car was not drivable – leaving him without a way to earn a living. His previous insurance provider responded slowly, and he lost income while waiting for them to approve repairs to his car. “There was a time when I was hit from behind,” he says about the accident. “The car was very much damaged. But it took a lot of time for the insurance company to repair my car. So, I was losing my earnings, and I was not able to pay my bills.”
Charles is part of a tiny minority of Kenyans who have access to insurance, which can help protect people in cases of illness, job loss, and accidents. For drivers like Charles, car theft and accidents can cause major disruptions to their income – an income that Charles relies on to support himself, his mother, and the rest of his family.
Lami, a Kenya-based insurtech startup and Accion Venture Lab portfolio company, is working to broaden access to affordable and relevant insurance in Africa so that more people can build financial security. Using a digital platform, they’re helping people like Charles get high-quality, dependable insurance, often for the first time.
Founded in 2018 by Jihan Abass, Lami connects low-income customers across Africa with the right insurance products for their needs. “I think insurance is one part of financial inclusion that has really been ignored,” says Jihan. “It brings about a lot of security because here in most of Africa, people rely on single sources of income. So, for us, we are really excited to be able to do that and to provide a safety net for people as they transact on a day-to-day basis.”
Only three percent of Africans, excluding South Africans, have access to insurance, putting many in a difficult position when emergencies occur. “If I’m not insured, and anything happens, there are so many risks. I will not be able to support my family and will not be able to have any earnings,” says Charles.
Lami’s approach stands out because it supplements a traditionally inflexible, in-person service — selling insurance — with digital technology that has a much wider reach. More than half of Kenyans have smartphones, and the use of mobile phones continues to grow across the continent, creating opportunities to reach more people. By making insurance sales digital, Lami has the potential to provide the safety net of insurance to millions.
Lami works with businesses and insurers to design customizable insurance products and make them available through Lami’s platform. Using Lami’s app or website, customers can search reputable insurance providers and purchase products, including medical, motor, employee benefits, and device insurance. Users can get a quote in seconds, customize the benefits, and adjust the premium to suit their needs. When they complete the purchase, they receive their policy documents instantly.
Through their platform, Lami has access to more data that helps underwriters better target and price their products for their expanding pool of prospective customers. In their first few years of operations, Lami reached over 80,000 people and expanded into Uganda, Nigeria, and Malawi with plans to grow further.
After the crash that left him without income or a car to earn it, Charles changed providers and became one of many happy Lami customers. “This business supports me because I can be able to pay my bills, I can be able to support my parents, and I can also be able to support my family,” he says.
Accion Venture Lab invests in innovative fintech companies like Lami that leverage technology to reach underserved entrepreneurs, families, and individuals in emerging markets more effectively and efficiently. As fintech investors with a track record spanning a decade across emerging markets, we share global learnings from our portfolio across various fintech models, connecting CEOs working on similar models to share insights on what is working. Accion’s goal is to ensure that accelerating digitization truly uplifts and empowers vulnerable people.
Watch how Lami brings affordable insurance to people like Charles so they have a safety net during challenging times: