British International Investment

Pula Advisors AG

AfricaFood & Agriculture

Pula is an agricultural insurance and technology company that designs and delivers innovative agricultural insurance and digital products. It aims to help smallholder farmers endure yield risks, improve their farming practices, and bolster their incomes over time.

This investment was made when British International Investment was named CDC Group.

We have now exited this investment. This is what we achieved.

Achieved impact

This information will appear shortly

Expected impact

Through our Climate Innovation Facility, we have provided a contingent loan to Pula to pilot a new pay-at-harvest insurance product. This model is virtually untested in Africa but has the potential to significantly increase smallholder uptake of agricultural insurance by addressing the affordability barriers.

Impact information

Applies to investments made from 2019 onwards. The tabs in this section define what we expect to achieve through the investment, assessing the potential impact of the investment against six dimensions of impact. You can find more details on our methodology of assessing impact here.

What?

Impact
  • Enhanced income and resilience via access to digital insurance (SDG 8.5)
  • Strengthened resilience and adaptive capacity to climate hazard through tech-enabled climate risks management (13.1)

How?

Primary Secondary
  • Catalysing markets: Our commitment to this pilot phase can help test and prove the suitability of the pay-at-harvest model to increase the uptake of agricultural insurance by smallholder farmers; as well as test and prove the model’s viability, a core condition of scale-up by private sector investors and financiers.

Signposts for success will include in the short-term increased uptake from smallholder farmers and repayment rates of over 90 per cent. In the medium term, it will include full recovery and replacement of BII by private investors as pre-financers of the insurance premium. In the long term, it will include the scale up of the model by Pula and its replication by competitors.

  • Direct: The pay-at-harvest model is expected to significantly increase the uptake of agricultural insurance – including during the pilot phase – by addressing the cyclical affordability barriers facing smallholder farmers and the technical expertise gap facing local insurers. Under this model, premiums are pre-financed for farmers by third party investors (BII and Pula in the context of the pilot) and deducted at source through supply chain actors (buyers and off-takers) at the time of harvest.

Who?

Stakeholder Geography Characteristics
Consumer

Pan-Africa, with the pilot focused on Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya.

Tanzania, Uganda, and Mozambique may follow in a subsequent phase of the pilot.

Smallholder farmers with landholding varying from one to two hectares in East Africa to more than two hectares in larger West African markets but lower productivity per hectare. Primarily living under $5.50 per day. Over 30 per cent women with up to 50 per cent lead farmers in some markets. High vulnerability to climate hazard due to inadequate farming practices and limited adaptive capacity.

How much?

Scale Depth/Duration
  • Catalysing markets: Potential for outsized scale (reach to millions of smallholder farmers) if the model is scaled-up and replicated. A recent study completed by the University of Zurich and Columbia University pointed to an increase from 5-6 per cent of uptake within treatment group under upfront payment models to 72 per cent of uptake under pay-at-harvest model.

Track-record: Pula has served 5.1 million smallholder farmers.

  • Duration: Catalytic: Likely to occur in the long term if the model is commercially successful. Direct (pilot): two harvest seasons.

  • Depth: Expected to be significant. Over 80 per cent of smallholder farmers are uninsured and subject to climate hazard affecting crops, agricultural production, and revenue. The insurance enables them to redeem replacement seeds or cash equivalent to replant and harvest commodities in the same season.

Contribution/additionality

Contribution/additionality

Catalytic investment under our Climate Innovation Facility enabling Pula to test, improve, and prove the pay-at-harvest model's applicability and impact.

Risk

Execution Risk
  • Uncertainty around market receptiveness including farmer uptake, and participation of supply chain actors and Private investors.
Execution Risk
  • Uncertainty around model’s commercial viability. includes default risks and accurate estimation of costs and repayment profile.
Execution Risk
  • selection of value chain partners and moral hazard risk.

Environmental and social information

  • Environmental and social summary

    A high-level description of the environmental and social aspects of the investment. This may include a summary of key environmental and social risks identified during environmental and social due diligence (ESDD); key elements of an environmental and social action plan (ESAP); or ways in which we plan to support the investee improve environmental and social standards, such as through their environmental and social management system (ESMS); as well as any other priority areas agreed with the investee.

  • Environmental and social risk

    A risk category rating, which indicates the level of environmental and social risk associated with an investment. For an explanation of the categorisations used, see here. We consistently provide an environmental and social risk category for all investments screened from 2023 onwards.

Environmental and social summary

We partnered with our fund manager to co-invest in this company, including through shared environmental and social (E&S) due diligence proportionate to the company's scale. An E&S action plan included items related to labour and working conditions, and grievance management.

Reporting and Complaints Mechanism

The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism allows anyone outside BII to report alleged breaches of the business integrity or environmental and social provisions of BII’s Policy on Responsible Investing. This includes breaches made by BII, a BII investee, or a portfolio company of a fund in which BII has invested. The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism Rules are available here. Reports and complaints can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail. See more details on our Reporting and Complaints Mechanism here.

For any other general enquiries contact us at [email protected]

  • Key facts

    Last updated

    When the last quarterly update of the website database occurred.

    :
    June 2024
    Project number

    An identifier number shared by investments in the same project.

    :
    D5461
    Status

    The current status of the investment (green flag for active and red flag for exited).

    :
    Exited
    Region

    The geographical region where the country is located. We currently invest in Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and the Caribbean. In 2023, BII’s investment mandate was extended allowing it to invest in regional funds linked to Ukraine, with the majority of activity expected to begin post-war. Investments outside these regions were made prior to 2012 under previous investment mandates.

    :
    Africa
    Country

    The countries where the investment delivers impact. Where impact is delivered in multiple countries, this is indicated.

    :
    Africa
    Sector

    We prioritise those sectors that facilitate development and need our capital the most. Our priority sectors contribute towards many of the Sustainable Development Goals. They range from investing in the power infrastructure that will provide people with better access to electricity, to investing in financial institutions that direct capital to the individuals and businesses that need it the most.

    :
    Food & Agriculture

    We provide capital in the following ways: directly – through direct equity, direct debt, guarantees and other non-intermediated financial instruments; and indirectly – principally through investment funds.

    For direct investments and fund investments, this is the date BII committed capital to the investments. This is typically the date on which legal agreements are signed by all parties.

    For the portfolio companies of our fund investments, this is the date (either the month or the quarter) on which the fund committed capital to the portfolio company.

    For direct equity investments, this is the date at which British International Investment exited the investment.

    For debt investments, this is the date at which the final debt repayment was made.

    For funds, this is the date at which the fund was terminated.

    For underlying fund investments, this is the date at which the fund manager exited the investment.

    The total amount committed, per financial instrument, per investment, on the date BII becomes subject to a binding legal obligation to provide funding or assume a contingent liability. This information is provided in US dollars.

    For direct investments, this is the amount that BII has committed to the business or project. For fund investments, this is the amount BII has committed to the fund.

    The currency in which the investment was made.

    Investment type :
    Debt
    Start date :
    December 2021
    End date :
    March 2024
    Amount :
    $5m
    Currency of investment :
    USD
    Domicile

    The company or investment fund’s place of incorporation.

    :
    Switzerland
    Climate finance type:
    Adaptation

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