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Scaling up gender-focused crop insurance

Woman signing up for crop insurance© Nicolas Réméné
OKO and UN Women have with the support from Innovation Norway piloted a gender focused crop insurance solution which led to a successful uptake by female farmers. This scaling project aims at scaling up OKO's innovation and generalising the gender focused approach.

What is the challenge?

This project aims to address both financial inclusion and climate resilience for vulnerable smallholder farmers in Mali, with a special focus on women. Mali counts approximately 924,000 farms, of which 91.2% are fully dependent on rainfall for their production and therefore for their family income. However, crop insurance penetration has never exceeded 2%. For the majority of Mali's population, this puts living conditions at risk, but also deprives them from micro-credit and therefore limits their ability to exit poverty.

Smallholder female farmers in rural Mali face recurrent income losses from drought, floods and heavy rainfall, attacks from pests, diseases, and livestock, and other natural disaster risks. Although dealing with natural disasters is hard for any rural farmer, there are extra barriers these rural women face in accessing resilience building services. These barriers include low literacy levels, limited insurance knowledge, limited mobile phone access and ownership, a limited supply of tailored financial and insurance products, and a lack of digital and financial skills.

What is innovative about this project?

OKO uses an innovative approach to crop insurance both in its design and its distributions. OKO designs "parametric" crop insurance, which automatically indemnifies farmers if a drought or a flood is monitored in their area. This detection is done using satellite data and indexes, making claim verification more affordable and more scalable and therefore accessible to all. Farmers can register from any mobile phone and premiums are payable via mobile money. This innovation is combined with a local presence. OKO equips and trains agents to raise awareness about insurance and assist farmers to register.

OKO's gender-focused pilot showed that female team members were selling three times more to women farmers. They also found that men and women traditionally grow different kinds of crop, and that insurance schemes predominantly targeted crops grow by men. OKO therefore developed a new insurance product for crops mostly grown by women.

What are the expected outcomes?

In 2021 OKO implemented a gender-focused distribution pilot in partnership with UN Women and UNCDF which led to a successful uptake by female farmers. This scaling project aims at scaling up OKO's innovation and generalising the gender-focused approach tested at a small scale in 2021.

Who are the project partners?

This project is led by UN Women in partnership with OKO.

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