Old Mutual Botswana launched a historic life insurance arm on Thursday seen as targeting the less privileged of the society in the informal sector.
It is almost a taboo for the existing insurance companies to include the informal sector in their business operations purely because of their unreliable income and sustenance.
Besides providing investment, savings and insurances, Old Mutual Botswana provides loans.
“I wish to applaud Old Mutual for taking a bold decision to invest in Botswana. I can only assure you that Batswana will support your business,” said the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng on Thursday at the occasion to mark the official launch of the project.
Olopeng added: “I must hasten to indicate that Old Mutual Life Botswana is a welcome addition to the local insurance industry. We will therefore be looking to the institution not only for the benefits accruing from increased competition in the market but also innovations that will increase financial inclusion for those who are currently left out of the financial services.”
Chief Executive Officer of Old Mutual Africa Jonas Mushosho acknowledged the role the informal sector will play in the company’s operations, taking a leaf from Zimbabwe’s example where the informal sector is involved.
“In Zimbabwe they (informal sector) do not want to be referred as micro … they insist ‘we are not small’,” Mushosho emphasised, underlining the importance of the informal sector which he argued “likes to dream big” despite challenges in life.
“I like people who dream. There is no charge for dreaming,” he added, urging Batswana and the general public notwithstanding their financial background to “dream Old Mutual Life Insurance Company” as “it is for you.”
Mushosho is not worried over the 2 million population of Botswana which is feared to be not viable and sustainable for conducting business, insisting the right product is what the people needs.
“Botswana statistics does not matter. It does not even scare me,” he argued, adding “If you offer what they want they will come.”
The brainchild of Thebe Modikwa as the Managing Director, Old Mutual Life Insurance Company adds to eight existing insurance companies, two of which are already dominant in the country, according to the youthful entrepreneur.
“Well the first thing is that we believe life insurance is just about funeral expenses, the elaborate sending off of a loved one,” for Modikwa noted, adding, however, that “life insurance is a tool for preserving wealth and giving the next generation a better start in life than the previous one.”
He reminisced about a sad time when as a university student when he struggled to pay rent for a flat while his friend managed because his parents had invested in a life insurance.
Modikwa does not want Batswana to fall prey to that, calling on all and sundry to join the insurance to avoid embarrassment in the future.
Old Mutual provides investment, savings, insurance and banking services to more than 18,9 million customers in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe and is listed on London and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges among others since 1999.