Startup Pula Advisors appoints Michael Joseph as board chair

michael joseph
michael joseph

Agriculture insurance startup Pula Advisors has appointed former Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph as board chairman effective September 19.

Mr Joseph currently serves on the board of the Nairobi-based insurance tech startup.  

The firm, founded by Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru in 2015, provides crop insurance for small-scale farmers in Kenya and 15 other African markets.

“Michael will bring a wealth of skills and industry knowledge to Pula. Throughout his career, he has been committed to seeing small businesses in Africa succeed on the global stage,” said Thomas Njeru, Pula co-founder and CEO.

Mr Joseph was the founding CEO of Safaricom, steering the telco to grow from a subscriber base of about 18,000 in 2000 to over 17 million at the time of his retirement in 2010.

He is credited with the launch of the pioneering mobile money platform M-Pesa and taking the telco public in June 2008 via an initial public offering that raised Sh50 billion for the government.

“His experience and strong knowledge of scaling companies in African markets aligns with Pula’s ambitions. This puts him in an ideal position to lead Pula’s growth in insuring smallholder farmers in new markets.”

Pula early this year emerged among the top 100 global firms poised to have a significant impact on business and society in World Economic Forum (WEF) Technology Pioneers ranking.

The company was featured on the list for its innovation in using technology to provide agriculture insurance to millions of smallholder farmers in emerging markets.

Last year, the firm Pula Friday won Insurtech of the Year Award during the sixth annual African Insurance Awards at an event held in Lagos, Nigeria.

In 2020, the firm raised Sh660 million in a Series A fundraising to boost expansion in Kenya and beyond the African continent.

Pula has insured over 6.5 million smallholder farmers across 16 countries through its flagship Area Yield Index Insurance product.

"I have always been interested in using technology to change peoples’ lives for the better. The connection between agriculture and technology intrigues me, particularly on how technology can be used to improve smallholder farmers’ productivity and incomes,” said Mr Joseph about his appointment

“I am looking forward to guiding Pula as it continues its growth, and hope to push the company to do even better,” said Mr Joseph on his appointment.”

Mr Joseph holds multiple executive and non-executive roles within the larger Vodafone Group including at Safaricom where he is still serving on the board.

He is also the chairman of national carrier Kenya Airways.

He is also the director of mobile money at Vodafone Group Services and Vodafone’s strategic adviser appointed to the board of its subsidiaries, including Vodacom Tanzania.

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