How Adebowale Banjo is improving insurance penetration in Africa with MyCover.ai

Godfrey Elimian
How Adebowale Banjo is improving insurance penetration in Africa through MyCover
How Adebowale Banjo is improving insurance penetration in Africa through MyCover

Adebowale Banjo is a determined individual overcoming obstacles, including low penetration and apathy among Nigerians in the insurance market, to offer embedded insurance to Nigerians.

In addition to being a skilled executive with experience in business development, strategy, product development, and business analysis involving start-ups and growth enterprises, Adebowale has a proven track record of increasing sales and profits while enhancing operational effectiveness and productivity.

His startup, MyCover.ai, an insurtech platform focused on developing Africa’s digital insurance infrastructure, provides the infrastructure that streamlines underwriting and product creation and offers data to the underwriter to assist them in producing better insurance products.

This API makes it simple for people, in this example, insurance companies, to distribute their products more quickly and affordably while also making them more available to the general public. Also, people can insure the common items they use or buy when shopping on their frequently used platforms.

By the volume of premiums it collects, the magnitude of its investment, and—more importantly—the fundamental social and economic function it serves by taking on personal and business risks, the insurance industry is undoubtedly a huge contributor to any economy.

For many Africans, who do not understand the benefit of assurances for the future, especially when they feel the future is uncertain, it has become secondary over time. In outlining the process that led to the birth of MyCover.ai, he says:

“It was just us( he and his co-founders) looking at how Insurance was and still is an afterthought for a lot of people, and how to penetrate the market. At that time we thought of how to be at the backend of everything insurance rather than the frontend. What we found was a lot of fragmented solutions. So we had to build an infrastructure that powers the growth and adoption of insurance in the whole of Africa.”

Adebowale Banjo
How Adebowale Banjo is improving insurance penetration in Africa through MyCover
Godfrey Elimian with Adebowale Banjo of MyCover.ai

On this instalment of Founders Spotlight, we had a one-on-one conversation with Adebowale banjo, the co-founder of MyCover.ai. The Zoologist from Onabisi Onabanjo University shared his experiences, inspirations, target and plans to ensure that every Nigerian had access to insurance products through MyCover.ai.

Read also: How Victor Emaye is ‘bringing’ medical laboratories to Nigerian homes

Adebowale Banjo journey into Insurtech

Banjo obtained his Bachelor’s degree as a Zoologist from Onabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun state, in 2006. Since then, he has obtained various degrees and certifications in business analytics from Udacity and Disruptive Strategy from Harvard Business School Online.

In detailing his switch and delve into Insurtech, this is what he says:

“I have worked in almost all the sectors bar Oil and Gas. I started my career in banking, which was a switch from the sciences to finance. From there, I did Consulting Business Development and Growth/ Strategy for an FMCG and e-commerce platform.

For me, it is always about understanding your strengths and knowing that you can apply those to any sector or industry in which you find yourself. I didn’t set out to build an amazing Insurtech platform.”

Inspiration behind MyCover.ai

The Insurtech industry is relatively small, with little exploration compared to e-commerce, fintech, or even Edtech. But for Banjo, the opportunity to create an infrastructure offering insurance at every point was worth exploring for him and his co-founders.

He says:

“In 2016, I met Kola Oyeneyin, who had founded AutoGenius 2 years before. It was Nigeria’s first digital insurance platform and was an autocomparism insurance platform. So when I met him, he wanted me to come on board to work on the brand. That was my proper introduction to the insurance world.

As I got involved and started working on that difficult project which was at that time ahead of its time given the adoption of Insurance and digital insurance generally, I got to learn more about it. I tried to learn the nuances of the industry to broaden my knowledge. At that time, my co-founder now, Alex, joined in 2018 to work on products. So all three of us worked on AutoGenius, and then when we started working, the whole idea of expansion into Insurance started coming.

I remember having a conversation one day with Alex about building an infrastructure that every insurance activity passes through, and he said that’s crazy but would be great. So, that was the seed that then grew to become MyCover.ai, although several other iterations led to its building.”

MyCover.ai’s journey so far

Behind every endeavour undertaken, whether business or personal, are measurable milestones and indices to indicate its growth. For MyCover.ai, this is also the case. Since its launch in 2021, Banjo claims the startup has come a long way, although it still has a long way to go.

Since we started full operations in 2021, we have been able to serve numerous customers. Currently, we have about 10,000 active users month-on-month. Beyond the metrics and revenue, the idea for us is the lives we have touched. For instance, our mission is to provide financial security for Africans by improving access to insurance products.

Seeing the lives we have touched in terms of mothers who have had their babies in the hospital, people who had accidents and recovered because of the insurance policy they had and all of the amazing things that have happened.

Adebowale Banjo, CEO and Co-founder of MyCover.ai

There was a case of a man that was shot but had life insurance, and then I presented the cheque to the wife and child. Those things make you see how important insurance is, and it can be the difference between moving on very quickly or struggling for a very long time.

But more specifically, today, we have partnered with over nine insurance companies, making people access these companies by integrating our platform into their business. We also have 26 insurance products across the board and co-created products with these partners.

We also have over 30 distributors on the platform already connected, some at different integration levels. So yes, we have achieved quite a number of things since launch“, he added.

Banjo Adebowale

How Nigerians can access all MyCover.ai products

The essence of innovation and technology is to make the lives of the common man easy by improving access and availability of what they initially were unable to reach easily. In confirmation of this, Banjo explains that the very core problem MyCover.ai hopes to solve is access;

For us, it is improving access, and one of the things we try to change is the way people interact with insurance. The idea is to integrate insurance into products and services you are familiar with through embedded insurance. So, for instance, when you use an e-commerce platform to purchase an item from time to time, the difference this time is that there is an insurance notification at that moment of purchase.

Hence, since it is happening right at that moment of purchase, you have a higher chance of insuring that item. We have other instances of a bank or fintech app having insurance products like life insurance when you want to make transfers or anything. So that initial barrier to entry is low compared to the conventional way people communicate insurance to you. So there are different engagement ways: buy now, pay later platforms, ride-hailing and many others.

Another example would be a user trying to send money from outside the country via a fintech platform, and an insurance notification pops up for the recipient of the transfer; the user can easily have insurance coverage for the person back home on those platforms that leverage our API. That’s the power of technology. Even in rural areas where you don’t have a smartphone, as long as you have a mobile phone, there is the USSD feature.

Regarding adoption, Adebowale Banjo says, “4000 of our users are first-time buyers of insurance products, and then we have our partners that are bringing different products on board.”

Adebowale Banjo, founder and CEO of MyCover.ai

Challenges faced as an insurtech founder

Challenges are part of the everyday life of a founder, claims Banjo. He says every day comes with its different set of challenges.

I think the founder’s life is one full of challenges, and there are no two similar days. Sometimes it’s just the weight, sometimes, you do so much, and it doesn’t seem like anything is moving. But as someone said, it’s consistency over many things, so that’s one thing we have done over time, to stay true and committed to what we are doing and over time, you get to see things pay off.

The other would be the acquisition of talent, with the japa trend. But the interesting thing is we have been able to manage that well. We have been able to build an open organization where people love to work with an open door policy, we listen and create an environment that facilitates their growth and development, but even with that, we have lost some persons while staying on track.

You can watch the full interview here:

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