Meet the team

At the core of Democrance’s offering lie the mutually beneficial partnerships we create between insurance and telecommunications companies – two highly regulated and complex industries.

We understand and anticipate the challenges that may arise during complex projects. Years of experience in the MENA region’s insurance and telecommunications industries and building technological platforms have equipped our team with the right skills and knowledge to create and drive these initiatives hand in hand with our partners.

Michele Grosso

01 Sep 2017

Michele Grosso


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Co-Founder and CEO of Democrance

Driven by the desire to restore insurance to its original purpose of providing mutual aid for those who need it most, but can afford it least, he founded Democrance in 2015.

Prior to that, Michele worked in strategy and distribution at global insurance powerhouses AXA and MetLife in France, Egypt and the UAE.

Italian by birth, Michele holds a Master in Management / Grande Ecole from ESCP Europe in Paris and MSc in Economics from Turin University. He is also a graduate of Carlos III University in Madrid and City University in London.

Michele is a frequent speaker and contributor to microinsurance, entrepreneurship and social innovation events and publications in the Middle East and worldwide.

Alberto Perez

01 Sep 2017

Alberto Perez


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Co-Founder and COO of Democrance

Alberto is the Co-Founder and COO of Democrance.

Alberto Pérez was educated at ICAI School of Engineering and EOI Business School in Spain.

Driven by his passion to provide access to telecommunications services to underserved regions, he spent over four years reshaping the mobile Value Added Services (VAS) ecosystem in several Sub-Saharan African markets together with leading MNOs, such as Safaricom (Vodafone), Airtel and MTN.

Seeking new horizons, he relocated from South Africa to the UAE as the CEO of a newly born B2C enterprise and soon after founded his own award-winning venture, an on-demand fuel service.

Damian Dimmich

01 Sep 2017

Damian Dimmich


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Chief Technology Officer

Damian Dimmich is the Chief Technology Officer of Democrance.

Founder of his own boutique software development company Tauri-Tec, throughout his career he built cutting-edge software for a diverse range of clients, including the United Nations, the UK government, a Nigerian electricity operator and a variety of startups in e-government, fintech and media.

Damian holds a PhD in Parallel Programming from the University of Kent and BSc in Physics at King’s College.

He is fluent in English, German and Polish.

Tarik Ghanim

01 Sep 2017

Tarik Ghanim


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Chief Marketing Officer

Tarik joins Democrance with invaluable experience in the Middle East telecommunications industry, having held key positions in some of the biggest telecoms players in the field.

Previously, Tarik was the Head of Digital Commerce at du and an instrumental member in establishing the Digital Business department. During his tenure, Tarik developed GTM strategies and innovative business models for Digital Services among others.

As a management consultant and seasoned business leader with 15+ years ICT experience across the Middle East region, his unique strengths lie in driving digital transformation and developing strategic partnerships across organisations that support new business streams and leverage on synergies in the telecommunications space and numerous vertical sectors, including finance, government, healthcare, hospitality, media, retail and transportation.

 

Aarno Tenhunen

01 Sep 2017

Aarno Tenhunen


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Lead Software Engineer

Aarno Tenhunen is the Lead Software Engineer of Democrance.

In this capacity, he is in charge of developing the microinsurance platform and scaling the IT infrastructure according to business needs.

In pursuit of a new challenge, Aarno joined Democrance and made Dubai his new home. Previously, he worked as a software engineer and agile coach for CSC – IT Center for Science, an IT service provider for the Finnish Government.

Aarno was born in Finland and graduated with a major in Computer Science and minor in Industrial Management from Tampere University of Technology.

Muhammad Ashad Chaudhary

01 Sep 2017

Muhammad Ashad Chaudhary


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Developer

Muhammad Ashad Chaudhary is one of the key developers at Democrance.

In this capacity, he works closely with the engineering team to support Democrance’s product development and customer integration, drawing on his experience in Application development (Mobile/Web/J2EE).

Before joining Democrance, Ashad held software engineering positions with Systems Limited in Karachi and Dubai, as well as Etisalat UAE.

Ashad holds a Bachelor in Computer Science with a major in Software Engineering from the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences in Pakistan.

Linda Luu and Oreabetse Mathlare

01 Sep 2017

Linda Luu and Oreabetse Mathlare


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Finance and Administration

Linda and Ore are Founding Partners at The Scalable CFO, a team of Finance Professionals that is providing the first dedicated source of flexible Experts for Startups and SMEs in the United Arab Emirates. The Scalable CFO introduces customers to a new breed of CFO, and through meaningful collaboration, provides a service that is essential to an often underserved market.

Together they bring to Democrance 25+ years of experience in strategic financial management and audit experience across insurance and other industries and several accreditations including FCCA and CA(SA).

Santiago Carvajal

01 Sep 2017

Santiago Carvajal


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Legal Counsel

Santiago is Democrance’s in-house legal counsel.
With core experience in corporate law, he has worked with a wide variety of clients across a broad spectrum of industries of all sizes in the private, public and third sectors.

Before moving to Dubai, Santiago lived and practiced in a number of different countries including Spain, Norway, and The Netherlands.

He holds a Licentiate in Law (LLB + LLM equivalent) from the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid and a Master`s Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University.

Jyoti Desai

01 Sep 2017

Jyoti Desai


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Business Development

Jyoti advises Democrance on Business Development and also acts as CEO of Digalance, a strategy advisory and planning firm focused on technology. Her expertise includes mobile financial services, digital transformation and the execution of large scale projects.

Before founding Digalance, Jyoti spent over 35 years working in financial services, fixed and mobile telecoms across Africa, the Middle East and Iran. She previously acted as a Board Member and Group Chief Operating Officer at MTN, the largest telecom operator in the Middle East and Africa region.

Jyoti holds a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) focused on LAW and Economics from the University of South Africa/Universiteit van Suid-Afrika.

Abdel Hafiz

01 Sep 2017

Abdel Hafiz


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Business Development

Abdel Hafiz Fouad acts as a regional consultant for Democrance out of Sudan.

Well versed in both, the insurance and telecom sectors, Abdel previously represented Celltek Egypt in Sudan before acting as a marketing consultant for his family’s insurance company, The Blue Nile Insurance (BNI), and brokerage firm, Protect Insurance Services. He later joined Elnilein Insurance and currently works with The Sudanese Insurance & Reinsurance (SUDINRECO).

Abdel holds a BSc in Environmental Studies from Omdurman Ahlia University in Sudan and a Project Management Diploma from The Regional IT Institute (RITI) in Egypt.

Enrique Urbaneja

01 Sep 2017

Enrique Urbaneja


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Business Development

Enrique Urbaneja is an independent Global Go-To-Market Executive and Democrance’s representative in APAC. Before working in an independent capacity, Enrique held numerous senior positions with telecommunications and technology companies around the world, including Atos and Baquia among others.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the mobile industry, from business development to international expansion, Enrique has an entrepreneurial mindset and founded and supported several startups, most notably Mobiadvanced, which expanded into more than15 international markets under his guidance.

Passionate about social causes, and a firm believer in harnessing the power of mobile technology for good, Enrique has supported public sector in several countries to assess and design mobile early warning systems as part of disaster preparedness.

Based in the APAC region out of Vietnam, Enrique supports Democrance in extending its footprint across the region.

Evgeniya Karavan

01 Sep 2017

Evgeniya Karavan


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Business Development

Following more than 15 years of experience in life insurance business management and as well as direct customer marketing for world-class organizations such as MetLife, HP and Sberbank, Evgeniya has joined the Democrance team and represents the InsurTech company in Russia.

Developing microinsurance in Russia is a passion project of hers, based on her firm belief that it serves as a vital social protection tool for lower income populations.

She is also the CEO of DMGlobal, a venture focused on the optimal use of customer databases and distant sales methodologies.

 

Caroline Morilhat

01 Sep 2017

Caroline Morilhat


01 Sep 2017 Share link

Project Officer

Having recently relocated to Dubai, Caroline is in charge of managing of a joint project between the Luxembourg based NGO ADA, specialising in inclusive finance, and Democrance.

Funded by the United Nations, the project aims to reduce the vulnerability of low income migrants working in the UAE by providing insurance protection through an innovative remittance solution.

Having previously worked as a project officer at ADA in Luxembourg, where she was responsible for the coordination of the training activities the NGO provides to the microfinance institutions, she joined the Democrance team in Dubai to be closer to the project’s target populations as well as Democrance’ expertise and know how.

She holds a Master’s Degree in International Marketing and Management from the Institut du Management Européen des Affaires (IMEA) in France.

Newsroom

This is a section where we put up news clippings and press releases.

Closing the Protection Gap

15 Mar 2018

Closing the Protection Gap


15 Mar 2018 Share link

 

Swiss Re estimates the world protection gap at more than US$1.7 trillion, based on the di erence between current levels of insurance coverage and the value of assets and lives at risk.

• Nat-CAT protection gap in the Middle East is among the biggest in the world, and the recent disasters draw a ention to the wide gap. To make things worse, there is substantial underinsurance in life and health cover.

• Nat-CAT gap has increased during the past 25 years, and the global property protection gap has almost tripled over the past four decades.

“Nowhere in the world is insurance more needed and yet the protection gap is the widest than in the emerging markets. While global insurance penetration rate stands at 6%, that of emerging markets reach only half that gure,” said Mr Michele Grosso, Co-founder and CEO of Democrance, an InsurTech startup based in the UAE.

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Bringing insurance benefits for everyone

28 Feb 2018

Bringing insurance benefits for everyone


28 Feb 2018 Share link

Current insurance penetration levels are low across emerging markets despite huge demand and greater awareness. In the Middle East and North Africa region, only one per cent of the low-income population can access and afford microinsurance.

Michele Grosso – who has worked with some of the largest insurance companies in France, Egypt and the UAE – realised that the industry lacked innovation and technological readiness to scale their products to emerging consumers. He launched Democrance in 2015 to help insurers address this market and make insurance accessible for those who need it most but can afford it least.

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USD 500,000 Grant Secured to further Develop Sustainable Microinsurance Model

18 Dec 2017

USD 500,000 Grant Secured to further Develop Sustainable Microinsurance Model


18 Dec 2017 Share link

The project, in collaboration with IFAD, a specialised agency of the United Nations, the European Commission and Luxembourg based NGO ADA specialising in inclusive finance, aims to harness technology to reduce the vulnerability of migrants working in the UAE by providing insurance protection for those who need it most but can afford it least.

Dubai, UAE, 18 December, 2017 — Democrance, a UAE based insurance technology startup, has entered a partnership with ADA, an inclusive finance specialist NGO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations (UN) specialised agency, to develop a sustainable microinsurance model that provides insurance protection to low income group migrants working in the UAE. With remittances being key to financial inclusion for a large part of the global population, the project involves the usage of money transfer operators (MTOs) as insurance delivery channels, a truly innovative approach to inclusive finance which has never been explored before.

The project aims to achieve greater financial inclusion of migrant workers, with a focus on UAE-Philippines and UAE-India remittance corridors. Following the launch of a Call for Proposals by IFAD, the funding, which includes contributions from IFAD, the EC, ADA and Democrance, was awarded at the end of a highly competitive selection process.

Michele Grosso, Co-Founder and CEO of Democrance, said: “At Democrance, we use technology to make insurance accessible and affordable: by digitizing the value chain, we substantially reduce the operational costs of insurance providers, passing on the benefits directly to the end customer while creating value for all those involved. Through this grant, Democrance will be able to draw on the invaluable support and wealth of microinsurance expertise from both, IFAD and ADA, allowing us to further develop a user friendly and well defined product, which for the first time will use remittance houses as the insurance medium to the benefit of migrant workers.”

Democrance will act as the technology and implementation partner for this project with ADA (Appui au Développement Autonome), a non- government organization dedicated to increasing the financial inclusion of populations excluded from conventional banking channels in developing countries.

Among the Gulf countries – with 20 million migrants – the UAE, with an estimated 8 million migrants, has been selected as the right country to pilot this project. It has a favourable payments system environment and a well-developed remittance industry, with more than 139 registered and authorized foreign exchange and remittance companies, with 835 branches across the UAE. Within the UAE, the target groups will be the represented Indian and Filipino communities with 2.3 and 0.9 million people, respectively.

Arnaud de Lavalette, Senior Digital Finance Officer, ADA, said: “The migrant workers in the UAE have access, through governmental plans, to basic health insurance coverage, but this is still a limited offering. If they are affected by a mishap and cannot send remittances for a period of time, their own families can descend rapidly into poverty. The objective of this project is to reduce this gap in risk coverage by leveraging on an already established financial transaction, the remittance, and providing insurance to the migrant workers.”

The UAE is one of the largest remittance-sending countries in the world. According to IFAD figures in 2015, USD 30.1 billion was sent from the UAE to other countries, with India being the largest beneficiary with USD 12.6 billion (#1), and the Philippines with $3.5 billion (#3). Insurance, together with credit, savings, remittances and, in general, payment systems is an instrument to achieve financial inclusion among unbanked persons.

ENDS

About Democrance
Democrance, founded in 2015, is an insurance technology start-up with a mission to enable partnerships that make insurance accessible and affordable for those who need it most. Democrance has created a digital platform that brings together two key industries  – insurance and telecommunications companies.
By forging new partnerships, we unlock new markets for businesses, while at the same time creating social value for those populations, which have previously been excluded from the benefits, and protection insurance can provide.
Through tapping into technology, we aim to restore insurance to its original purpose of providing mutual aid for those who need it most but can afford it least.

About ADA
ADA, Appui au Développement Autonome, is a Luxembourg based NGO created in 1994.  Its mission is to develop and promote inclusive finance as a means to alleviate poverty throughout the world and primarily on the Less Developed Countries. ADA has focused its activities on the support of microfinance institutions.

About IFAD
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided over US$18 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 462 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the United Nations’ food and agriculture hub.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Magdalena Stepien
Email: media@democrance.com
 

Press Release: USD 800,000 in Seed funding led by Jabbar and Eos Venture Partners

22 Oct 2017

Press Release: USD 800,000 in Seed funding led by Jabbar and Eos Venture Partners


22 Oct 2017 Share link

The first investment in a social enterprise led by Dubai based investment fund Jabbar and London based Eos Venture Partners 

Dubai, UAE, 22 October, 2017 — Democrance, a UAE based insurance technology startup with a mission to enable partnerships that make insurance accessible and affordable for those who need it most, raised USD 800,000 during its first round of funding.

Leading regional and global individual and institutional investors participated in this round, including Jabbar Internet Group, one of the most prominent investors in internet and technology companies in the Arab World and Eos Venture Partners, a global InsurTech (Insurance-Technology) Venture Capital investor based in London.

Other investors included Turn8 from the UAE, F-Horizon Group from Saudi Arabia, Seedstars from Switzerland and several angel investors from the UAE and broader MENA region, Europe, South Asia and the United States.

Michele Grosso, Co-Founder and CEO of Democrance, said: “We are excited to implement ground breaking technology through a social enterprise model and provide insurance to income groups that need it, but face numerous barriers in attaining it. Democrance is the first regional insurance technology platform of its kind, and this important first investment will enable us to further develop our technology and broaden our reach.”

Democrance is set to pave the way in developing the InsurTech industry along with educating the public about its usages and benefits. The digital platform brings together insurance and telecommunication companies, allowing users to get access to insurance through their mobile phone, without even having access to a bank account.

Samih Toukan, Chairman of Jabbar, said: “Investing in Democrance aligns with our vision to embrace entrepreneurs in the Arab World who are willing to innovate and take risks to create something great. The technological advancement that Democrance has brought to the market is not only pivotal in terms of developing the insurance industry but critical to society’s welfare as it is inclusive and covers the working class that would typically not have easy access to insurance.”

Sam Evans, Founder and General Partner of Eos Venture Partners said: ” At Eos we have a strong focus on developing markets where we believe the impact of new technology, like Democrance, can have a profound impact. Our focus as a global InsurTech specialized fund is to bridge the ‘digital chasm’ between InsurTech start-ups and traditional insurance companies. Democrance embodies this principle perfectly.”

Worldwide insurance penetration stands at 6%, while emerging markets reach only half of that figure. In the MENA region, only 1% of the lower-income population can access and afford microinsurance. Democrance has set itself a target to provide access to basic life and health insurance to 15 million low-income people across the MENA region by the year 2020 – a population segment in which majority have never been insured before.

Ends

About Democrance

Democrance, founded in 2015, is an insurance technology start-up with a mission to enable partnerships that make insurance accessible and affordable for those who need it most. Democrance has created a digital platform that brings together two key industries  – insurance and telecommunications companies.

By forging new partnerships, we unlock new markets for businesses, while at the same time creating social value for those populations, which have previously been excluded from the benefits, and protection insurance can provide.

Through tapping into technology, we aim to restore insurance to its original purpose of providing mutual aid for those who need it most but can afford it least.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Magdalena Stepien
Email: media@democrance.com
 

Democrance ranked among Forbest Best Startups for the second year in a row

03 Oct 2017

Democrance ranked among Forbest Best Startups for the second year in a row


03 Oct 2017 Share link

forbes-logo-green-A

2016: 50 UAE Startup to Watch [link]
2017: Top 100 Startups in The Arab World [link]

Singapore: UAE InsurTech firm receives award from MetLife

23 May 2017

Singapore: UAE InsurTech firm receives award from MetLife


23 May 2017 Share link

UAE-based startup, Democrance, has received the “Judge’s Selection” award from LumenLab’s inaugural corporate-startup engagement programme, collab.

LumenLab, MetLife’s Singapore-based innovation centre, announced this after Demo Day last Friday that took place in Singapore.

Democrance is the first mobile microinsurance partner in the Middle East and Northern Africa. It aims to make insurance available to a wider population by working as a strategic partner with insurance companies on one side, and telecom operators on the other, to utilise the mobile phone as a tool to reach the low- and middle- income segments, which can then just use their mobile phones to “buy, pay for and use insurance products”. The startup, founded in 2015, focuses solely on the MENA market for now.

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Startup Democrance Makes Insurance Accessible For MENA's Low-Income Population

05 May 2017

Startup Democrance Makes Insurance Accessible For MENA's Low-Income Population


05 May 2017 Share link

20160721062432-EntrepreneurMiddleEastlogo-white

Sindhu Hariharan

In the MENA region (and perhaps the world over), ask fintech entrepreneurs about their startup’s core business, and chances are that it’s likely to be around digital payments, peer-to-peer lending, or blockchain. While these fintech businesses have dominated investor and funding action for a while now, one can’t exactly say the same for innovations happening in the insurance space. However, globally, upstarts are emerging to change this scenario, and the insurance industry is seeing increased collaborations between the old and new guard.

According to CB Insights data, the annual deal activity in the insurance-technology (insurtech) space clocked US$1.69 billion in 2016, with the number of deals rising 42% on a year-on-year basis. Not just that, in a positive sign for aspiring insurtech entrepreneurs, “two of every three deals in 2016” took place at the early-stage. Be it through the application of artificial intelligence in insurance, or by facilitating microinsurance, this new breed of fintech startups are beginning to make their presence felt. One such entrepreneur who has entered the MENA region’s insurance sector is Michele Grosso, founder and CEO, Democrance, an insurtech startup based in the UAE. Given his passion for microinsurance (a model focused on insuring low-income people) and its impact on society, Grosso was surprised to learn that the concept was “simply not available” in the region.

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Fincluders Startup Challenge

07 Apr 2017

Fincluders Startup Challenge


07 Apr 2017 Share link

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And the Winner is…

After 15 exciting pitches and demanding questions by the high level jury, a very difficult choice had to be made to select the three winners of the Fincluders Startup Challenge prizes. Out of the all round excellent field of contenders the following startups were awarded prizes at the thrilling award-ceremony.

The main sponsor of the event, the SANAD Fund for MSME’s Technical Assistance Facility, congratulates the winners of the pitching competition and expresses its gratitude to everyone who contributed in making the Fincluders Event such a success.

Third place and its cash award of USD 5,000 went to UAE-based Democrance, a micro-insurance provider for low-income populations. The prize was sponsored by ZAIN, the leading mobile and data services provider in MENA. The trophy was presented by ZAIN Jordan CEO Ahmed Hanandeh.

Democrance’s mission of making insurance accessible and affordable for the lower-income population through the power of modern technology convinced the jury in nominating this promising fintech as the third startup on the winners’ podium.

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Making insurance accessible for everyone

03 Apr 2017

Making insurance accessible for everyone


03 Apr 2017 Share link

ktimes

There are 350 million low- to middle-income people in MENA who do not have access to any sort of insurance. For this segment, risk protection tools such as life insurance, social security, public healthcare, personal and family savings would be life-changing.

Recognising the opportunity, Michele Grosso, founder and CEO of Democrance (www.democrance.com), decided to do something about it. He has spent over seven years in the insurance industry, first with AXA and then with MetLife, across Paris, Cairo and Dubai. He has seen first-hand how providing insurance to the masses could solve social challenges in the region. He decided to channel his knowledge and passion for this business and convert it into a profitable and meaningful venture.

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Microinsurance - Protecting migrant workers from risk

01 Sep 2016

Microinsurance - Protecting migrant workers from risk


01 Sep 2016 Share link

meast

With one in two residents in the GCC being a migrant worker, there is much that insurers can do to protect their interests, say Ms Annalisa Bianchessi of the Microinsurance Network and Mr Michele Grosso of Democrance.

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Our Supporters

Democrance is indebted to a number of supporters, who continue helping us on our journey: