Yalu: What’s Next for the Insurtech Startup in 2019 and Founder Nkazi Sokhulu’s Wish for SA Entrepreneurs

Updated on 17 January 2019

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To help usher in an exciting New Year, a number of startup founders, accelerator heads and ecosystem stakeholders will be sharing with us their plans for the new year and their biggest wish for the local entrepreneurship ecosystem in 2019. 

Nkazi Sokhulu is the co-founder and CEO of Yalu, a digital insurer that’s looking to forever change South Africa’s multi-billion rand insurance industry with its innovative credit life insurance offering.

The black-owned insurtech has been hailed as a startup to watch, largely for managing to attract investment from Public Investment Corporation (PIC) — which oversees government employees’ pensions. Yalu was also selected as one of eight black-owned startups awarded entrepreneurial packages in one of SA’s richest startup initiatives by Rand Merchant Investment Holding (RMI), through AlphaCode.

Find out what Sokhulu plans to tackle in the next 12 months, and how they plan on saving South Africans millions. 

How do you see the tech startup sector (and in particular insurtech) developing in the coming year?

I think we will see more customer solutions that will combine the pushing of the boundaries of giving customers a superior customer experience, but in a way of meeting more South African customers at their place/channel of greatest comfort.

One of the biggest challenges that the industry continues to face is cost effective ease of product and service access which results in prohibitive cost of sales – this is an area that I think will definitely be solved by insurtechs.

What are your plans for Yalu in this regard?

Being an insurance business, we have to consider what are all the ways in which customers typically want to engage with their insurance products.

Yalu have met the needs of customers wanting to do so on their electronic devices and for those customers who prefer call centres. So we plan on expanding our distribution reach in 2019 to customers who prefer engaging with their trusted advisors and brokers, but all on the same industry-leading technology platform.

I don’t believe anyone can do this tough journey alone, so my wish would be for SA entrepreneurs to find two other fellow entrepreneurs that they can lean on for advice and connections

What are some of the developments (within the local ecosystem) you are hoping for in the coming year?

Some industries don’t require much capital to break into, but some like financial services require huge amounts of capital to disturb the relative peace of those industries.

Yalu have been extremely fortunate to have received funding which gives us and customers a chance, so I would hope that there will be many more stories such as ours of entrepreneurs with solid business models and drive being given an opportunity to bring those ideas to life.

There tends to be a pattern of advising entrepreneurs to only build globally scalable businesses, which can often lead to entrepreneurs abandoning really good business models that can be incredibly successful here in South Africa, in order to chase a Silicon Valley standard that just isn’t always applicable or necessary. So I would like to see more entrepreneurs being assisted in how to take their ideas to the next level, even if it only serves our market, as many successful businesses have been built here in South Africa to solve uniquely South African problems.

Yalu has a number of impressive highlights in 2018 – what can we look forward to from the team in 2019?

Yalu will aim to cover all forms of bank-issued debt in 2019, in order to give more consumers the ability to exercise their right to choose a credit life insurance provider of their choice.

Yalu looks forward to cementing new partnerships with institutions that will enable us to reach even more customers, and in turn save South Africans even more millions in credit life insurance premiums.

And finally, what is your wish for SA entrepreneurs for 2019?

I don’t believe anyone can do this tough journey alone, so my wish would be for SA entrepreneurs to find two other fellow entrepreneurs that they can lean on for advice and connections. These should not be people you see in passing, but people one invests time to build a trusting relationship with.

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