November 24, 2016
Colombo, Sri Lanka– BIMA credits its philosophy of putting customers at the heart of its business with its achievements in advancing insurance coverage in the region.
BIMA recently shared its astounding progress and regional expansion plans in the Pacific at the 12th International Microinsurance Conference (IMC) in Sri Lanka that ran from 15 – 17 November 2016.
Speaking to an audience of over delegate 400 participants and microinsurance experts from around the world on the theme of “Driving growth and sustainability – A business case for microinsurance”, Simon Schwall, BIMA’s Project Manager for the Pacific summarised BIMA’s culture of striving to deliver customer value, convenience and service in partnership with Digicel and Capital Insurance in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and latterly in Fiji.
Schwall said: “we launched our operation in Fiji in June and we’ve already brought over 13 thousand subscribers on board. This is a solid foundation for us to build upon, and shows the strength of the need for insurance in the region. We plan to meet this demand with an ambitious expansion plan which will establish Fiji as a “Pacific hub” for the wider region, creating an opportunity to bring the power of health and life insurance protection to many thousands more families. We will be reaching people living in rural communities in Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga next year, and we are also looking at possibilities in Nauru.
“The performance related grant from PFIP has been critical to accelerating our growth in the region and the viability of our local operations. The funding acts as a catalyst which enables us to move faster and extend our reach to people.”
Michael Carr, Regional Inclusive Insurance Specialist at the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) commented: “PFIP is always looking to partner with companies and others to build or expand markets and bring suitable financial products and services to those who are financially excluded. We are keen to catalyse the use of innovative technologies, distribution channels and business models.
Every company with a business model like BIMA’s needs to achieve sufficient scale to be sustainable. So the expansion plans that have been announced, while ambitious, are reasonable, particularly when we consider the low levels of insurance penetration that exist in various countries in the region. Insurance is a product that can benefit anyone. Working in PNG and lately in Fiji, BIMA is an excellent example of what can be done to help spread financial inclusion through affordable and customer-focused products and PFIP is pleased to be a part of this successful journey.”
PFIP’s partnership and investment in BIMA has been made possible through the support of the European Union, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Aid Programme.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping low-income households gain access to quality and affordable financial services and financial education. It is jointly managed by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government.
PFIP aims to add one million Pacific Islanders to the formal financial sector by 2019 by spearheading policy and regulatory initiatives, facilitating access to appropriate financial services and delivery channels and by strengthening financial competencies and consumer empowerment.
PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands.
BIMA offers mobile financial services to the unbanked, with a focus on micro-insurance. The company, formed in 2010, works to bring more affordable insurance to people in emerging markets via their mobile phones and already covers millions of people across Africa, Asia and Latin America. BIMA has grown rapidly since its launch and now reaches 24 million customers in 15 markets with insurance products such as life, accident and health coverage policies.
BIMA’s customer base is growing at a rate of 700,000 new policyholders per month, reflecting large-scale demand for its products and its low-cost operational and distribution model. Its shareholders include emerging markets focused investors Kinnevik, LeapFrog Investments and Millicom. Digicel, one of the largest mobile network operators in the Pacific, has also provided USD 5 million in investment to bring micro-insurance to the Caribbean and Asia Pacific, including PNG.