INSURED awards scholarships for the international Microinsurance Master 2023

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Focus Region:
Sub-Saharan Africa
Focus Topic:
Rural Finance / Insurance

Hands-on training paves the way for insurance change-makers across the global South to grow microinsurance markets.


IFAD’s INSURED programme has announced two new scholarships for this year’s Microinsurance Master Accelerator programme, which is due to start with an immersion course in Kenya on 3 July. More than 20 delegates from organizations in 14 countries are expected to take part.

Microinsurance penetration is on the rise across the global south, with a huge range of products targeting low-income clients, offering life, health, credit and agricultural insurance, and much more. Despite a large potential market for growth, stakeholders from the private and public sectors often need support to effectively meet the risk management needs of poorer women and men.

Microinsurance Master is an accelerator programme now in its fifth year. It is designed for insurance CEOs and key decision makers working to make a difference for poor communities across the world. The programme empowers participants to boost their companies’ and organizations’ outreach in underserved areas and grow their microinsurance activities. It has a 97% recommendation rating from executives in 60 organizations in 31 countries.


The 2023 scholarships

Two candidates with a special interest in agricultural and climate risk insurance have been awarded INSURED scholarships for the 2023 edition of Microinsurance Master: Manuel Cortina, Manager of Business Development and Marketing at the Philippines Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) and Edgar Gabriel Shao, Manager Insurance Market Development at the Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA).

The PCIC is the sole provider of agricultural insurance in the Philippines, with a mandate to provide agricultural insurance to marginalized and subsistence farmers. INSURED has supported the country with a feasibility study looking at insurance options for small-scale cacao and coconut producers. Cortina is working to develop more microinsurance products for the country’s farmers and fishers and is eager to learn innovative approaches to make agricultural insurance more affordable for the underserved.

In the United Republic of Tanzania, TIRA is working to support the establishment of a Tanzania Agricultural Insurance Scheme (TAIS). Together with other aspects, the Authority is reviewing the regulations for agricultural insurance and industry arrangements among insurers in preparation for the TAIS.  Shao is playing a leading role in this work. The flexible nature of the training will allow him to focus on these areas.

The two-week immersion in Kenya will start with exchanges with the leadership teams, staff and clients of APA Insurance, Britam, Pula, Turaco, and several other microinsurance champions, going behind the scenes to learn about unique distribution models and solutions for faster payouts.

Participants will also spend time in the Kibera slum with members of SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities) and visit the farmers insured by Apollo Agriculture. On the last day, they will pitch a solution to the mobile money provider M-PESA, based on interviews they have conducted in the market, blended with the learnings from the programme.


The merits of mentoring

After the immersion, all participants receive three months of one-on-one mentoring with industry leaders, to continue building their expertise in microinsurance and exploring their areas of special interest. Once they have completed the programme, the 2023 cohort will join a vibrant network of changemakers who continue to learn from each other how to bring the benefits of microinsurance to families, farmers and businesses across the global South.

For the 2022 Master programme, which began with a two-week immersion at Pioneer Insurance in Manila, 20 delegates from 14 countries took part and INSURED awarded scholarships to two insurance professionals from Asia — Saovanna Or of Forte Insurance in Cambodia and Thanh Vu of BaoViet General Insurance in Viet Nam. Both candidates successfully completed the training and provided feedback.

Saovanna Or’s takeaways from the immersion included recognizing the importance of true partnerships with other stakeholders and fast claims handling. His focus for the mentoring phase of the training was how to simplify existing insurance products, how to address farmers’ biggest risks, including price fluctuations, and how to develop distribution partnerships.

Thanh Vu’s takeaways from the immersion included the importance of a customer-centric approach to microinsurance and effective partnerships. During the mentoring phase, she was joined by colleagues working on agricultural insurance to foster the company’s approach in this vital area. Baoviet’s first nationwide microinsurance offering was launched during the mentoring period, covering accident and hospital cash.


Reducing risks for those in most need

Microinsurance Master’s mission is to strengthen and inspire microinsurance leaders to make a difference in the business of reducing the risks of low-income communities. By accelerating microinsurance businesses and building a community of changemakers, the sector as a whole and, in particular, microinsurance beneficiaries will thrive.

Climate risk and agricultural insurance specialist Tara James explained INSURED’s motivation in giving scholarships to insurance professionals: “INSURED works to build agricultural and climate risk insurance markets in a targeted way,” she said.

“The aim is to have long-term impact on the sustainability of markets. This means that when INSURED support to pilots or training is over, countries are empowered and they have the capacity to continue innovative work to make agricultural and climate risk insurance accessible and affordable to small-scale producers – whose livelihoods are the most exposed to climate change.”

Microinsurance Master founder Bert Opdebeeck shared some numbers on the impact of the training.

“Seventy-four change-makers from 31 countries have completed Microinsurance Master and learned how to apply the customer-centric approach to microinsurance with guidance from industry leaders,” he said.

“The results speak for themselves. Two Microinsurance Masters went on to attract a high-profile investor, another increased its earnings through microinsurance premiums by US$1 million and yet another turned a US$200,000 loss into a US$100,000 profit.

“Microinsurance Master accelerates leaders and their organizations to do well by doing good.”


Read more:

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Insurance Toolkit:

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Picture caption: Kenyan small-scale producer Francis Musyoki has agricultural insurance through an IFAD-financed cereal enhancement programme. IFAD is committed to strengthening farmers’ resilience by increasing access to insurance. Credit: IFAD/Isaiah Muthui