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  • Sector: Technology & Telecoms
  • Countries of operations: Multiple

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Millions of Africans cannot afford insurance but, thanks to companies like BIMA, that’s starting to change. BIMA uses mobile technology to provide affordable insurance and health services to low-income consumers in emerging markets.

In its first six years of trading, the firm has attracted more than 27 million subscribers and it now operates in 16 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“BIMA targets consumers who do not have a bank account and are unable to access insurance through traditional channels,” explains CEO Gustaf Agartson. “Our model has brought insurance to the uninsured on an unprecedented scale and over 75% of our base is trying insurance for the first time.” The potential for further growth is huge.

“Insurance penetration is less than 3% in Africa, despite these markets being home to the most at-risk families,” says Gustaf. “The barrier to adoption is not a lack of appetite from the consumer, but the inaccessibility of traditional channels, leaving the industry ripe for disruption.”

“The barrier to adoption [of insurance] is the inaccessibility of traditional channels”

At the heart of that disruption is likely to be the spread of smartphones, which are expected to open up access to insurance for millions of people.

To help it tap into growing demand, BIMA recently launched a mobile-health division, aimed at families wanting to protect themselves from the financial impact of illness and injury. It has also expanded its partnership network to include banks and microfinance institutions and continues to look for other ways to reach the uninsured.

Gustaf feels that changes to the regulations are needed. “Outdated regulation can stifle the innovations required to make financial products accessible and easy to use,” he says.

  • 75%+ of BIMA’s base is trying insurance for the first time

As for the next five years, BIMA has a development strategy based around diversifying and digitalising the business. Gustaf says: “Data will play an even more important role, creating insights that will shape the evolution of our technology, improve performance and enhance the user experience.”