Reimagining Financial Inclusion
Financial inclusion is not top of the agenda at most financial institutions, which is a shame in view of how many people could benefit. At ITC DIA Europe in Barcelona, Talk Show host Samantha Prymaka (Partner at McKinsey) discussed with the participants how to put financial inclusion into practice and do this at scale. They discussed how insurance companies can unlock massive new markets in the process. With her on stage were Asher Hasan (Founder & CEO at Naya Heevan and Co-Founder & CEO at doctHERs), Erlijn Sie (Author ‘Reimagining Financial Inclusion’ & Global Partnership Director at Ashoka), Gustaf Agartson (Founder & CEO at Milvik, BIMA) and Jihan Abass (Founder & CEO at Lami.world). We sat down with Lami’s Jihan to talk about her contributions to the Talk Show and her affinity with social entrepreneurship.
Jihan, before becoming a social entrepreneur, you actually worked as a trader in London. What inspired you to make this career switch?
Jihan: “I was visiting Kenya for the holidays, and I had a conversation with a waiter who told me he didn’t have any medical insurance. As somebody who had always had protection in the form of a medical insurance policy, I started to wonder what was the barrier that he did not have insurance. After doing research, I found that there’s less than 3% insurance penetration across Africa, although there are more than 50 insurance companies operating in the Kenyan market. The distribution mechanisms were broken, and insurers could not reach the end customer.
This story inspired me and entrepreneurship was something I saw as a norm. My family are entrepreneurs, so it wasn’t as scary as it would be maybe for most people. I was excited to have the chance and opportunity to actually make a difference and provide this kind of protection and coverage to people who need it.”
How do you envision Lami technology to revolutionize the insurance industry in Eastern Africa?
Jihan: “Our end goal is to insure as many people as possible across Africa and provide them with the kinds of products that they actually need. There are a lot of problems that the insurance industry in Africa faces. Firstly, the kind of products that are offered don’t really fit the needs of today. There are no relevant products for people who actually need it. The second problem is that there’s been many insurance providers in the market for a long time and a lot of people are not able to trust what these insurance companies are offering. So there’s a lack of trust towards claims being processed. People also don’t really understand what these policies are offering. There is not enough effort made by insurance companies to actually make clear what it is they’re offering.
We are interested in how we can use technology to actually bridge those gaps. We want to make the purchase flow super easy and onboard KYC (know your customer). We want to plug into places where customers actually are, such as digital platform banks. Our goal is to make the customer journey as easy and simple as possible. We also need to pay attention to what the claims process means to the customer and include a human element. So that, in case there are any issues, people feel like that level of trust is being built. Cultural relevance is also a challenge. How do you convince people who are earning very little that they need to pay money towards certain kinds of insurance products to protect themselves? People often rely on a single source of income. If people own a truck or a farm, how can we encourage them to protect these single sources of income to preserve the trajectory of their family’s lives? Education is a solution.
Where do you think there are still growth opportunities in the emerging insurance markets?
For a continent that only has a 3% insurance penetration? I would say that there is a lot of opportunity for growth, probably the most of anywhere in the world. I believe it’s really about distribution. How can you build insurance products into the normal general things that people are doing on a day-to-day basis? So if somebody is buying a car or a house, how do you make sure that all those services and goods that people are buying are actually coming with the relevant insurance products?
We also need to empower insurance providers. We have enough insurance companies on the continent, but the problem is that they’re not able to actually reach customers. So how can we help them understand the customer better? How can we help them provide products based on research, based on insights and data?
Who is Lami?
Lami was founded in 2018 and has a geographical presence in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. Lami has digitized the entire insurance value chain end-to-end from KYC, pricing, underwriting, and claims processing all-in-one platform and API. Their vision is to democratise insurance through digitisation and make it economically viable to reach a greater segment of the African population. Their goal is to reach 50 million customers through the Lami API and underwrite over $1bn in GWP by 2027.