Interview with Mr. Anuj Kumbhat, CEO & Founder of Weather Risk Management Services (WRMS)
Introducing Mr. Anuj Kumbhat, the visionary Founder and CEO of Weather Risk Management Services.
His company is at the forefront of developing groundbreaking risk management solutions for farmers by harnessing the power of data, technology, and financial innovation.
Since its establishment in 2004, Weather Risk Management Services has positively impacted the lives of over 2.5 million farmers across 22 states in India and 15 countries worldwide.
Anuj, an esteemed leader in the agricultural industry, began his career as a finance professional at Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills (APPM), one of India’s largest paper companies.
During his tenure, he played a vital role in project finance, mergers and acquisitions, and exports. His data-driven insights and analytical acumen supported APPM’s senior management in making critical growth decisions, including the company’s first significant acquisition and scale-up plan.
Following this, in 2001, Anuj joined Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd as an Executive Assistant to the Managing Director.
His responsibilities involved financial restructuring discussions with lenders and negotiations for stake sell-offs, imparting him invaluable experience in high-stakes negotiations.
Subsequently, he joined ICICI Lombard General Insurance as a Product Manager, where he spearheaded the development and launch of innovative insurance products.
Additionally, Anuj contributed to the creation and documentation of the Weather Index Insurance product during his time at ICICI Lombard.
Driven by his passion for the agriculture and dairy sectors, Anuj founded Weather Risk Management Services (WRMS) in 2004 to empower farmers with innovative agri solutions.
Guided by his deep knowledge of the sector, WRMS utilized its multidisciplinary capabilities to offer cutting-edge weather and agricultural risk management solutions.
Initially, the company provided agro-advisory services and index insurance to farmers, but under Anuj’s dynamic leadership, WRMS expanded its offerings to include full-stack agricultural services with guaranteed yields.
Leveraging advancements in technology, such as climate data, remote sensing, and soil data, WRMS revolutionized the way farmers approach agriculture.
In addition to his role at WRMS, Anuj co-founded INGEN Technologies Pvt. Ltd in 2008. He played a pivotal role in developing disruptive hardware technologies in the fields of climate, agriculture, dairy, and logistics.
Mr. Kumbhat’s dedication to empowering farmers through the latest technology has garnered global recognition.
He is a respected member of the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) and is frequently invited to share his insights as a thought leader and speaker at various agri-insurance industry platforms.
Anuj has participated as a panelist, speaker, and esteemed awardee at prominent events such as the XLRI Micro Insurance panel discussion on innovative products and distribution, the PHD Chamber’s Agriculture Insurance “Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna” event, CII’s Agritech South conference, and the MicroCredit Summit in Mexico, among others.
Anuj holds qualifications in Corporate Law and Taxes from the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and Accountancy Audit, Taxation, and Corporate laws from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
Tell us everything about WRMS and what does it do? Where are you based out of and when did you start?
Anuj Kumbhat: A pioneer in smart and sustainable farming in India, Weather Risk Management Services (WRMS) is headquartered in Gurgaon.
The company was founded by Mr. Sonu Agarwal, Mr. Anuj Kumbhat and Mr. Ashish Agarwal as an endeavour to empower farmers in overcoming the most daunting agrarian challenges.
WRMS functions primarily on data, technology and financial innovation. Such a smart combination helps farmers enhance productivity, gain a secure income, and practice sustainable farming.
Incubated by IIT Kanpur in 2004, the company has received investments and grants from luminaries like UPL, ILO and the Ford Foundation.
Over the years, WRMS has built a strong reputation with a formidable presence across 22 states in India and 15 countries across the globe.
WRMS started its risk management journey in 2005 by creating a full-stack digital-first solution to help insurers and reinsurers understand, quantify, and manage the risks associated with weather events and crop yields.
As a pioneer with 18 years of experience, WRMS has bagged many world firsts in the parametric insurance space like designing and implementing the first-ever parametric insurance solution for countries like Fiji, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
WRMS also served diverse agri value chain players like seed companies, contract farming companies, and agri-input companies with their very first value-chain-enabled bundled index insurance solutions.
The company has worked in 20 countries with esteemed clients like World Bank, PepsiCo, Bayer, Scor, UNWFP, WWF, GIZ, and UNCDF.
The ‘Aha!’ moment: What was the pain point you wanted to resolve? Did you face any challenges while setting up the business?
Anuj Kumbhat: Genesis of WRMS lies in the first ever launch of a Weather Index Insurance solution for farmers in 2003 by ICICI Lombard. WRMS’s founder Mr. Sonu Agrawal designed that product as a head of the structured product team.
He saw value in the concept for the farmers and decided to take the plunge along with Anuj. When WRMS started in 2004, India had only about 1000 Automatic Weather Stations and a very sparse weather network to offer weather index insurance contracts.
WRMS has worked over time on developing the ecosystem and now has among the largest networks of 15,000 weather stations in India.
The company has so far served 10 million beneficiaries, served a portfolio of 400 bn INR and established over 30 institutional partnerships.
17 years of WRMS journey is filled with challenges we have overcome. In case the question is more about challenges we are currently facing, we are at a juncture where our products and services have a proven track record of quality and service.
Our challenge is to get the scale up capital to expand each of these product lines. We are also looking for investors that are interested in the sector and apart from providing the capital, can be our passionate ambassadors for expanding these product lines.
Our 4 major segments including Climate Outlook & Weather Forecasting Service, Crop Health Monitoring Service, Risk Management Services and Smart Logistics Management can be easily expanded to generate revenue of Rs. 150 crore each in next 3-5 years with the right amount of capital investment and business expansion support.
How are you differentiating yourself from them? What is something you offer that your competitors don’t?
Anuj Kumbhat: WRMS is the only company that offers farm level risk management using Risk Pricing Models and provides integrated risk management and regulatory services that help financial institutions, insurers, and corporates understand, quantify, and manage their risk associated with weather – earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other weather events – and crop yields.
WRMS SecuRisk is the digital-first global parametric insurance marketplace that supports product design, product validation, digital beneficiary onboarding, product education, policy purchase, claim management & settlement.
The platform is backed by a proprietary global data stack and simple product education and capacity-building tools keeping the needs of low-income communities in mind.
SecuRisk serves a diverse set of customers such as individuals, aggregators, development institutions, brokers on the demand side, and insurers and reinsurers on the supply side.
What are Challenges faced by Small and Marginal Farmers in India and how did they overcome them with the help of the Securisk?
Anuj Kumbhat: Whilst parametric insurance has had significant traction in Europe and North America, the parametric needle hasn’t moved much in emerging economies because risk carriers and the marketplace have limited access to expertise, resources, and data.
Parametric Insurance is the need of the hour in emerging economies, but there are gaps like high product rollout time and cost, limited quality reliable data, and lack of product awareness.
Thus, emerging economies fail to get significant and sustainable benefits from this solution. WRMS has over 18 years of experience in offering parametric insurance to low-income communities and is now focusing on making sustainable risk management solutions more accessible, affordable & transparent for better disaster response and recovery of vulnerable communities.
The SecuRisk platform is backed by WRMS’ global data stack of surface weather, gridded climate data, agriculture yields, and remote sensing data on the cloud, which is secure, scalable, flexible, and collaborative with millions of data points getting added daily.
The platform enables insurers to build, operate and monitor parametric insurance for global beneficiaries by leveraging our global data stack and integrated risk modeling.
The platform supports secure and rapid underwriting and claims management and has simple product education and capacity building tools keeping the needs of low-income communities in mind.
The platform is very simple, transparent & easy to navigate to serve emerging economies & low literacy communities.
The platform has an interface for insurers and reinsurance to evaluate and underwrite parametric policies.
It also allows them to manage their portfolio risk and claims through the system. The customer-facing front-end also has a mobile application that enables the end-to-end parametric insurance policy lifecycle management for customers through a simple interface.”
Please throw light on WRMS Risk Management Services. How are you enabling corporations, insurers, and banks to hedge their risk against the vagaries of the weather?
Anuj Kumbhat: WRMS started its risk management journey in 2005 by creating innovative risk management solutions to help insurers and reinsurers understand, quantify, and manage the risks associated with weather events and crop yields.
As a pioneer, WRMS has bagged many world firsts in the parametric insurance space like designing and implementing the first-ever parametric insurance solution for countries like Fiji, Indonesia, India, Haiti, Tonga, and Bangladesh.
We have also served diverse agri value chain players like seed companies, contract farming companies, and agri-input companies with their very first value-chain-enabled bundled index insurance solutions.
With years of experience of offering parametric insurance for low income communities and having got a good understanding of these markets, we have now developed a digital-first parametric insurance marketplace that bridges carriers with customers.
These customers can be individuals, aggregators, development institutions, brokers on demand side and insurer and reinsurers on supply side.
The platform supports secure and rapid underwriting and claims management. It has a diverse global data repository and simpler product education and capacity building tools keeping the needs of low income communities in mind.
The platform is integrated with a global data stack of surface weather, gridded climate data, agriculture yields and remote sensing data on cloud which is secure, scalable, flexible and collaborative.
The platform has an interface for insurers and reinsurance to evaluate and underwrite parametric policies. It also allows them to manage their portfolio risk and claims through the system.
Customer facing front-end also has mobile applications that allow whole parametric insurance policy lifecycle management through simple interfaces.
What benefits do you offer farmers, corporates, and other entities availing WRMS risk management services?
Anuj Kumbhat: WRMS provides Integrated Risk Management and Regulatory Services to financial institutions to understand risk associated with weather (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc.) and crop yields.
The company assesses natural catastrophes using its NatCat Insurance design, a solution created to cover the income and asset loss due to such natural calamities.
Its Crop Insurance Portfolio Management Services include Risk Modeling and Risk Rating, Portfolio Risk Assessment and Diversification Benefit Analysis, remotely monitoring weather and crop yield using IoT sensors, GIS technology, and Artificial Neural Networks.
By utilizing smart technology to increase agricultural productivity, WRMS equips farmers to undertake sustainable farming and ensures their financial security.
WRMS is the only company that offers farm level risk management using Risk Pricing Models and provides integrated risk management and regulatory services that help financial institutions, insurers, input farming companies, and corporates understand, quantify, and manage their risk associated with weather—earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other weather events—and crop yields.
What will be the key trends that will dominate the agritech sector in the coming 1-2 years?
Anuj Kumbhat: Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the internet of things (IoT), and other revolutionary technologies are being aggressively deployed by startups in the space to boost efficiency, productivity, and transparency in the sector.
India’s agriculture industry has advanced significantly, and with the emergence of tech-driven agriculture businesses, it has the potential to become “the world’s food bowl.”
In FY23, we should expect a slew of technological advancements in the agricultural industry. Through such advancements, smallholders will be assured incomes and zero hunger backed with sustainable farming practices.
To fully attain Gender Neutral farming will be the prospect of utmost importance in the agritech industry in coming years.
In contrast, agritech is seeing an infusion of entrepreneurs that are familiar with deep technology and come from farming families.
This enables them to employ the appropriate technology at the grassroots level. We should expect increased technical breakthroughs and use of electronic systems across agriculture value chains as the sector attracts more investment.
What is your goal set for the next 5 years?
Anuj Kumbhat: Currently, at WRMS, the exciting development is the unveiling of SecuRisk, a digital-first global parametric insurance marketplace.
The platform aims to address the $160 billion global protection gap by providing a solution for emerging economies.
SecuRisk supports product design, validation, beneficiary onboarding, education, policy purchase, claim management, and settlement.
It is backed by WRMS’s global data stack, including weather, climate, agriculture, and remote sensing data.
The platform targets a wide range of customers, including individuals, aggregators, development institutions, brokers, and re/insurers. WRMS plans to leverage SecuRisk in the next 12 months to offer simple, transparent, and accessible parametric insurance solutions, particularly focusing on low-income communities in emerging economies.
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