Because of the challenging economic environment, which has led to high consumerism and indebtedness, many Batswana are unable to adequately save for their retirement. This has inspired new insurer BONA Life to redirect its focus to retirement products like pensions and retirement annuities.
Formerly called Bramer Life Insurance, BONA Life’s new focus is meant to realign the company to its new shareholders, among them Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF). The company has developed flagship annuity retirement products for BPOPF and other pensioners from different employers. BONA Life Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Regina Sikalesele-Vaka is of the view that there is an urgent need for younger generations to start saving for their retirement as soon as possible, especially in response to the changing economic realities of high consumerism and indebtedness. She said there is enough evidence in the market to show that employer pensions are not adequate and must be augmented by the employer. She further said a good portion of employees and self-employed people do not have any pensions at all and struggle after their productive life comes to an end.
“As the first citizen life insurance company, BONA Life is about to effect the biggest change in the 40 years of existence of the life insurance industry in Botswana,” said Sikalesele-Vaka.
She further expressed confidence that with its strong networks, experienced management team and strategic partners, BONA Life is guaranteed of success.
“The only unknown for now is the magnitude of that success. Bona Life will work closely with policy makers to ensure that employers are compelled by law to provide pensions for employees, as has been the case with the BPOPF and government employees,” said Sikalesele-Vaka.
As times are getting harder, said Sikalesele-Vaka, there is also need for those that are already insured to be constantly shopping around for cheaper products that will provide more cover. Speaking at the launch of BONA Life, former President Sir Ketumile Masire said the participation of citizens in this important sector of the economy is a significant achievement in the history of Botswana which must be applauded. He said it is his hope that developments such as the birth of BONA Life will inspire more citizens to sacrifice the security of being employees to venture into the unknown world of becoming employers in order to drive the entrepreneurial change that is needed in the country.
“I call upon the diverse members of the BPOPF to rally behind and support BONA Life as the growth of the company will also grow their personal wealth within the pension fund,” said Masire.
He stated that in the 40 years of its existence, the insurance industry has developed rapidly and is currently worth P2billion in annual premiums. Masire said 80 percent of the market is held by the oldest company Botswana Life with the remaining 20 percent shared amongst other smaller companies.
“There is ample opportunity for BONA Life, as a citizen entrant to significantly reduce this dominance by providing relevant financial solutions that resonate with Batswana. The level of household debt in Botswana remains relatively high compared to global trends whilst the level of penetration of the life insurance industry remains relatively low,” said Masire.