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New products, use of ICT and efficiency rank high on Sonarwa 2016 agenda

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Sonarwa General Insurance is looking at closing the year 2015 on a high note and starting next year by offering new product propositions to the untapped insurance market segments. The firm’s Acting Managing Director, Nhamo Mawadza, of Zimbabwean decent, talks to Hope Magazine about the vast potential and opportunities in Rwanda’s insurance market and how insurance should have a value addition component among services and products sold by companies.

 Excerpts.

QN: As the year comes to an end, may you briefly tell us how Sonarwa has performed in the recent span of time?

Mawadza: In terms of achievement, at Sonarwa General we have registered some major milestones this year. First of all, we have stabilised our organisation and our marketing initiatives have done well towards the achievement of the company’s set targets, budgets and performance indices. A closer scrutiny of our gross premium income performance versus our target, reveals a projected achievement of  over 90 % before the year end. This by all standards, is a very good show of delivery on part of our Commercial Directorate. The team also managed to keep all our key accounts with us despite some challenges we faced over the years.

We are improving our broker relationship and we treat them as part of our strategic partners .Sonarwa General Insurance Company Limited respects and cherishes the level of trust the brokers have in our Insurance Company by placing businesses and major accounts with us.

As for the human resources aspect, we have embarked on a human capital development initiative to improve staff Knowledge, skills and ability (KSA). This is very important to our organization in key areas like audit, accounting, and technical Underwriting, Legal and enterprise risk management. This also includes the management of the human resources soft issues etc. We have engaged some qualified and skilled members in major positions that we believe will enable us do better this year (2016).

QN: How have you positioned yourselves to be the leading insurers in Rwanda?

Mawadza:  We are trying our best to maintain the number one position as the best insurer in Rwanda, widening the gap between us and whoever comes into second position. We have some indicators in the market that help us identify where and how we are performing well. We do make sure that our services are automated and provided online in real time. We are finalizing the customization of a new software system which we expect to go live by the 4th January 2016.

That alone will streamline and strengthen our processes turnaround time and improve the quality of output and documentation with our clients. We are set to introducing new different products and services because there are many sectors in the insurance market that remain untapped; including   mining, aviation and many more. The company is looking forward to venturing into the untapped market beginning 2016. To get there, we have built a very strong strategy with excellent market plans as well as the going to the market plans that shall be implemented.

QN: Talking about the untapped potentials in Rwanda, what opportunities do you deem to be availing vast opportunities in the sector?

Mawadza:  In Rwanda, we still do not have products such as micro-insurance, Bancassurance, retail insurance, mobile insurance, takaful Insurance and Agricultural insurance. If you look at the retail market, of which we have the likes of Nakumatt, it would be very good if someone was to buy, say a cooker from there, with insurance already paid for upfront.

This will improve the value proposition and the insurance penetration in the country. Banccassurance is a process of issuing insurance products through the bank’s distribution channels and one has to leverage on the vast customer base of the banks. This fulfills the customer needs of the bank and insurance products at the same time. Insurance services today are not supposed to be distributed in the traditional old ways where you always have someone (an agent) running around to convince people to insure their valuable properties or lives.  It should be sold as financial inclusion process that recognizes value addition that manages the day to day risks of people and their businesses. There are a lot of untapped opportunities in government projects and the private sector.

QN: How do you plan to tap into such opportunities in the future?

Mawadza: We need to have very good systems because when you are doing mobile insurance, for example, it should be IT-based where subscriptions, deductions and claims are digitally processed. That is why at Sonarwa General Insurance, we are implementing a robust real time and on-line computer software system. We need to develop platforms that can really collect information, such as Business Intelligence systems, that provides important various data for decision making and product differentiation .We will identify banking partners to distribute bancassurance products.

Sonarwa General Insurance Company Limited will develop staffs skills to provide the best products and services in the insurance market of Rwanda.  As you can see, much of the Rwandan financial sector is employing a lot of foreign skills. So we need to develop the local skills and that is how economic freedom is built.

QN: What CSR initiatives did you undertake this year and how have they helped people live sustainable lives?

Mawadza: For Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), we have done a lot at Sonarwa General since 1975 when we were incorporated. We have a partnership with Imbuto Foundation with whom we   pay school fees for about 10 children as part of our CSR. The other partnership we have is with CNLG through whom we donate about 10 cows every year to support genocide survivors, an intervention we have been involved in for the past five years.

QN: As a parting shot, what can you say are Sonarwa’s objectives for next year?

Mawadza: Next year we want to make sure that Sonarwa General Insurance Company Limited provides unique efficient services and products to the market. We will ensure that we meet all regulatory requirements, reduce expenses and meet the stakeholder’s expectations in 2016 and beyond

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