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Announcing our investment in Qoala: Why we invested

When our Venture Partner Tiang Lim Foo first introduced us to Harshet Lunani in 2020, we were immediately struck by his unshakable focus to leverage technology to democratize insurance in Southeast Asia.


Now, a few years later, we at Next Billion are proud to back Harshet in his mission and to announce that we have made Qoala the first investment out of our Digital Growth Fund.


Background


Even among emerging markets, where insurance penetration stands at a fraction of developed markets, Southeast Asia stands out in the massive potential that it offers.  In Indonesia, a market where GDP per capita is 2x of India, Gross Written Premiums stand at only 1.4% of GDP – a far cry short of India, where GWP is ~4% of GDP, not to mention developed markets like the United States, where GWP stands at ~12% of GDP.


In aggregate, Southeast Asia accounts for $500 billion of the estimated $800 billion insurance protection gap in emerging markets.  This regional gap stems from more than a few factors: on the demand side, lack of product-market fit in that insurance products are neither suitable nor affordable for the mass market; on the supply side, high transaction costs, outdated distribution mechanisms, and data scarcity.


Enter Qoala


Qoala pioneers an innovative approach aimed at bridging the insurance gap for underserved retail customers.  By providing a mobile app to over 65,000 independent insurance advisors, Qoala broadens their product offerings to include health, life, property, and motor insurance from over 50 different partners.


Through fully digitalized sale and after-sale processes, Qoala's time to issue a policy is drastically reduced from the traditional 2 weeks to just a few hours.  In regions where insurance awareness and availability are limited, Qoala's unique combination of digital underwriting and personalized agent assistance has the potential to significantly increase insurance adoption among demographics and geographical areas previously overlooked or underserved.


Through this agent-led approach as well as other digital-first approaches, Qoala has extended insurance coverage to over 8 million customers spanning Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.


Our role


We are proud to share that Next Billion led the Series B+ in 2023 and participated in the recently closed $47 million Series C, led by PayPal Ventures and MassMutual.


Since our initial investment, Qoala has recorded 2.5x GWP growth with even more impressive progress in revenue and profitability; on the operational side, Qoala now processes ~60% of total claims in-house while delivering market-leading customer satisfaction.


The impressive performance was recognized by CB Insights in 2023, as Qoala was included in its Fintech 100 and InsurTech 50 global list; these lists feature the most promising fintech and Insurtech companies in the world.


What comes next


Lunani says, “Our mission to democratize insurance remains steadfast, and with this new infusion of funds, we are better equipped than ever to drive innovation and impact lives and livelihoods. Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia are amongst the top 10 fastest-growing global markets for insurance in the coming decade."


"With most consumers just beginning to understand the value of insurance, we see ourselves playing a huge role in both community and country. We will continue to invest towards scaling up Qoala’s reach in our core markets and focus on enhancing our technology and product experience to significantly reduce the hurdles to accessing insurance, and in doing so, improving lives.”


With the recent Series C, Qoala aims to invest in strengthening its technology, with the goal of integrating artificial intelligence in all its processes to enhance the overall customer, agent, and partner experience. Additionally, the funding will support Qoala in diversifying its product offerings and expanding its agent platform, while also accelerating growth through strategic acquisitions and geographic expansion.


As the company enters a new stage of growth, the management team is committed also to develop new and innovative insurance products.  Coupled with Qoala’s wide distribution network, such products will significantly improve financial health and resilience for parts of the population that so far have been excluded from insurance.

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