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Lami: The Insurance Innovator Making Waves in Kenya.

Six years ago, if you had asked any Kenyan about insurance, be it for business, vehicle, or health, they would have told you a frustrating story of dealing with traditional insurance companies.

With over 50 insurance companies and thousands of agents and brokers in the market, you’d think that accessing insurance services would have been more accessible and straightforward.

But even a simple task such as obtaining a quote could devolve into a time-consuming ordeal of endless form filling and document submissions that, in some cases, lead to nowhere.

In reality, many insurance companies struggle with understanding their consumer needs and how to sell them insurance effectively.

This, coupled with doubts about the timely fulfillment of claim payments, often leaves many Kenyans skeptical about insurance companies.  This is the gap that Jihan Abass noticed and came up with Lami a platform that has digitized the insurance value chain. It was long overdue.

Jihan Abass is the CEO of Lami Technology. She is the brain behind this groundbreaking technology that enables the distribution of any type of insurance product at any point of sale, empowering millions across Africa to access and benefit from insurance services.

A Glimpse into Jihan’s World

Jihan’s story begins in the sun-drenched streets of Mombasa, where she was born and raised with a dream that set her sights on success. Here is her journey from her humble coastal hometown as she embarked on the winding path of education.

High school – Aim for the stars: With unwavering determination, Jihan focuses on achieving the grade that would unlock the doors to her dream university and pave the way for her desired career.

University – Venture beyond home: Leaving the familiar behind, Jihan embarks on a thrilling adventure pursuing a degree at the prestigious Bayes Business School in London, UK, and graduates with a BSc (Hons) in Investment and Financial Risk Management.

MBA at Oxford – Chart a new course: Driven by a thirst for deeper knowledge and a desire to refine her skills, Jihan is drawn back to the halls of Oxford. She embarks on a new quest, pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA). While at it, she embraces the opportunity to lead and inspire others as co-chair for the entrepreneurship and innovation Oxford Business Network.

Her journey culminated in a triumphant graduation in 2019.

Evolution of Her Passion

After graduating in 2015, Jihan landed a prestigious job as a sugar trader in London, trading in the New York and London sugar markets. As one of the few women in the business, she savored the sweet taste of success, yet her ambitions soared beyond selling sugar.

Driven by a deep-seated desire to make a meaningful impact on the world, Jihan found herself at odds with a career solely motivated by financial gain. The pursuit of wealth, while alluring, failed to satisfy her yearning for a deeper purpose. This inner conflict prompted her contemplation of returning to her roots.

Her next challenge was the insurance industry which has always been shrouded with mystery and mostly misunderstood, a situation made worse by insurance companies’ reluctance to educate people on how everything works in the sector.

The more she learned about the problems in the industry, the stronger her yearning grew; she had the potential to bring change in the world with her expertise and background in finance. Despite doubts about the repercussions of leaving her young career, her dissatisfaction with her work only intensified, and Jihan could not take it anymore. Resolved, she bid farewell to her job and returned home to pursue her long-standing dreams.

Though the decision was hard, the transition was made easier by the safety net of her family’s support. Drawing from a lineage of entrepreneurs, with her father and grandfather as guiding lights in entrepreneurship, Jihan landed on fertile ground as she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey. The echoes of her upbringing had instilled in her the vision and determination to build something of her own.

The Casual Chat that Launched Lami

Back home, Jihan went into introspection mode, shaping her business ideas. One day, while having a meal at her favorite restaurant, she struck up a conversation with the waitress, as she always did. She learned from the short chat that the waitress didn’t have any insurance, and after further investigation, she realized that that was just one case out of many.

Jihan was shocked to learn that formal insurance coverage penetration in Africa was as low as 3%. This ignited a deep determination to find a solution. She became obsessed with this revelation and began relentlessly researching the factors contributing to this gap.

Her investigation revealed many people across Africa relied on one source of income without the protective armor of insurance. This only strengthened her resolve.

In 2016, after countless days of research, consultation, and hard work, Jihan brought her vision to life with Griffins, Kenya’s first digital-only car insurance platform that allows people to buy insurance in minutes.

This pioneering digital-only car insurance platform revolutionized the insurance landscape in Kenya, enabling people to easily buy insurance, pay in installments, and even temporarily pause coverage while traveling abroad. It streamlined the claims process, delivering results within a week, a remarkable improvement compared to the industry 30 standard days.

Jihan’s insurance approach differed from how many insurance companies in Kenya were doing. Instead of fixating on risk, she adopted a customer-centric perspective, gathering an actuarial team to create products that directly addressed consumers’ needs.

In 2018, Jihan recognized the need to democratize insurance products and services for low-income Africans, ensuring affordable policies reached those at the bottom of the pyramid.

Jihan launched Lami, a groundbreaking technology platform that seamlessly connects insurance providers with consumers using the same technology that birthed Griffins.

Lami’s API integrates with digital organizations to reach uninsured users and automate the underwriting and claims processes so they can offer seamless insurance products that meet users’ needs.

Through Lami, businesses can co-create products with underwriters and adjust existing products to become more digital, improve risk profiling, and give customers a more tailored experience with automated claims filling and reduced premiums.

Rising Above Challenges

Like any startup, Jihan faced a series of obstacles, further worsened by the fact that she was a young, black woman operating in a male-dominated tech industry in Kenya where foreigners hold significant influence.

Initially, Jihan faced skepticism because of her age, with many dismissing her ambitious goals as unrealistic. The enormity of the problem seemed unsolvable. Undeterred, she persevered, recognizing that progress and tangible results would eventually speak for themselves.

After Lami’s launch, many Kenyans hesitated to download the app, leading to zero sales. It was difficult for people to believe that getting insurance could be easy and uncomplicated when they were used to tiring paperwork and long waiting periods. Earning people’s trust for this paradigm shift was neither easy nor quick. Despite these challenges, Jihan remained steadfast in pursuing her dream.

In August 2022, Lami Technologies made a significant milestone by raising USD 3.7 million in a seed extension round led by Harlem Capital in New York. This investment added to the USD 1.8 million seed funding raised in 2021, bringing the total to USD 5.5 million. This infusion of capital allowed Lami to expand its operation and infrastructure across Africa, including Egypt, Nigeria, and Uganda.


To fulfill her vision further, Jihan acquired Bluewave Insurance Agency. The move helped to bridge the insurance gap for underserved populations throughout Africa. Through Bluwave’s platform, Lami now provides access to insurance for thousands of individuals in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Gambia, and Congo.

Under her leadership, Lami has forged partnerships with notable companies, including Sendy, a digital logistic startup, and Kwara, a neobank for credit unions. The collaboration with Sendy enables carriers in East Africa to access transit insurance per trip, while the Kwara alliance makes insurance products accessible to over 60,000 SACCO members.

Looking ahead, Jihan envisions constant disruption in the insurance sector as technology continues to inspire new products and processes, inspiring new products, and services with Lami.

They plan to reach 50 million customers by 2025 through Lami’s API. Jihan and her team aim to provide a safety net for Africa’s population, harnessing the power of technology to deliver flexible insurance products to anyone, anywhere.

Her Message to You

Jihan Abas has made a remarkable impact on Kenya’s insurance industry with her innovative and visionary approach. She believes that insurance is more than just about making money; it’s about providing a safety net for individuals and families.

Jihan aims to underwrite policies worth billions in premiums, ensuring millions have the necessary protective covers.

When it comes to starting a business, Jihan’s advice to inspiring entrepreneurs is simple yet invaluable:

β€œInvest enough time in thorough research and gain a deep understanding of what people truly need. Once you identify a problem worth solving and are willing to sacrifice time and effort to solve it, go out there and do it.”

There is never the perfect time or opportunity; it’s about the drive and the will to succeed.

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