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The Bimalab Ethiopia Insurtech Accelerator, an initiative run by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Ethiopia, was launched today, December 6, 2023, marking a step towards fostering innovation in Ethiopia’s nascent insurance market.

The program, initially initiated by FSD Africa and later adopted by FSD Ethiopia with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to empower insurtechs and address the unique challenges faced by the Ethiopian insurance industry.

Ethiopia’s insurance penetration is below one percent, and the industry is behind in terms of innovation and digital solutions. Recognizing the need for innovative insurance solutions, particularly for low-income households, BimaLab Ethiopia aims to empower startups in overcoming obstacles such as limited resources, technical expertise, and regulatory support.

Within the framework of the program, a rigorous selection process has led to the careful curation of 15 startups and corporations from different parts of Ethiopia, all poised to drive profound changes in the insurance landscape. Among the chosen participants, four are insurance companies, while the remaining 11 represent startups.

“BimaLab Ethiopia is a testament to our commitment to inclusive financial solutions. This program will empower Ethiopian startups to drive change in the insurance landscape. With current progress in digital financial services in Ethiopia, it is time the Insurance sector takes advantage of innovation to expand its reach,” states Abel Taddele, Director, Financial Inclusion, FSD Ethiopia.

“Insurtech initiatives are important for expanding insurance access to underserved communities in Ethiopia. By fostering innovation, BimaLab can help develop new products and solutions to reach more Ethiopians,” says Belay Tulu, Director, Insurance Supervision Directorate at the National Bank of Ethiopia.

With an understanding that the Ethiopian market is still evolving, BimaLab Ethiopia welcomes startups at various stages of maturity, guiding them through a journey of discovery, validation, and innovation.

“BimaLab brings a wealth of experience in driving insurtech innovation. We are excited to witness the impact this program will have on the Ethiopian ecosystem,” adds Elias Omondi, Principal, Innovation for Resilience, from FSD Africa.

The heart of BimaLab Ethiopia lies in its selection process, which identifies businesses with coherent problem-solving ideas. The criteria encompass a commitment to addressing real issues in the insurance industry, innovative use of technology, and a clear demonstration of financial inclusion and social impact.

“Innovation is the key to addressing the needs of low-income households. BimaLab Ethiopia’s mission to support the development of innovative pro-poor products aligns with our vision to drive financial inclusion in Ethiopia,” says Edom Tesgaye, Senior Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

BimaLab Ethiopia takes an educational and simplified approach to make insurtech innovation accessible. Startups not only have the opportunity to grow their ideas into sustainable businesses but also receive support in navigating the regulatory landscape and forming impactful partnerships.

BimaLab supported 63 insurtechs, leading to the formation of 20 strategic partnerships and development of 43 insurance products, reaching over 3,000,000 customers, while raising over USD 10 million to enhance insurance accessibility across 10 African countries.

“BimaLab is not just an accelerator; it’s an educational journey. We’re here to guide and equip startups for success,” says Tonia Mutiso-Kariuki, Program Lead from Tellistic Technologies.

Beyond business growth, BimaLab Ethiopia aims to foster resilience and inclusivity, with a special emphasis on solutions that strengthen the resilience of women and youth and promote diversity in leadership.

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