The Agency for Investors
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
In only two years, Chama Insurance Agency has capitalised on its incorporation in Kenya to become one of the country’s leading indigenous independent intermediaries.
Established under the auspices of the Amalgamated Chama Limited (ACL) and Kenya Association of Investment Groups, the Agency isn’t tied to any particular insurer and was set up with the objective to tap into the business from investment groups and members of the ACL, and has grown extensively as such over the past 22 months to become a flourishing ‘agency for investors’.
“Chama is a Kiswahili word meaning an association or a grouping of likeminded individuals or groups with a common goal or objective of investing and growing mutually,” introduces the Agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Edwin Abungu. “The board of directors comprise professionals in their respective areas and are all Kenyans. Operationally, our activities are determined by the sources of businesses which include individuals, corporates, SMEs and chamas spread out around the country. We do not rule out offshore operations so long as our clients’ network of branches dictate.
“Chama Insurance Agency has evolved in the past one-and-a-half years or so to be recognised amongst intermediaries, with the ability to handle and serve large corporates, not to mention deal with both specialist and composite insurers in the industry.”
The paid-up member of BIMA Intermediaries Association of Kenya (BIAK) offers financial products and services related to personal lines, home, life, travel and healthcare insurance among others, while also sourcing for group covers of all classes of insurance; with suitable terms for its customers.
“Additionally, we do provide risk management, pre-risk surveys and claims services,” Abungu continues. “What sets us apart is the fact that we are a service-oriented Company, and an intermediary; the first in the industry to have investors of various shades as our support base. You may refer to us as the agency for investors/Chamas.”
Ensuring the ongoing progression of the still-young enterprise, Chama has in recent months been able to arrange special binder terms for specific clients by sourcing for the best underwriting terms with reputable service providers from registered operators around the country. Once again setting itself apart from the competition, the Company has gone to great lengths to introduce new nuances like this to ensure that its clients get good value for the premiums paid.
Technical Director, Theodore Okoth explains: “From an internal perspective, we cannot say Chama has grown much - because KAIG whose members are expected to utilise our services have not fully done so - but with more investment groups being incorporated, we expect to realise our goal of turning into a brokerage.
“Regarding upgrades, we have also recently acquired a new IT system to digitalise our operations.”
Ensuring the smooth transition of all new capital investments and strategic acquisitions is an equally strategic accumulation of employees whose approaches are indicative of the culture that Chama has adhered to since inception.
Okoth continues: “Our approach is that of commitment to attracting and retaining quality professional staff, developing in-house resources, and to train and build an inspired, motivated team. Our CEO himself is a young entrepreneur and has been attending several professional seminars organised by the industry to prepare him for the task ahead.
“Chama is open to engaging with both local and international staff given the nature of its major clients; including the likes of Ascent Capital, a private equity organisation with offshore interests.”
Progress and development
The Company adopts the same approach in formulating its supply chain and business partnerships as well, focusing more on the matching of values and culture as well as purely skill-sets and experience.
And going that one step further, Chama rounds off its dedication to local enrichment via an equally prominent corporate social responsibility ethos which, despite being in its embryonic stages, is set to gather momentum in the years to come.
Being such a young Company with the best still to come, Chama’s future ambitions as a whole are similarly lofty, all the while remembering its initial aims, and its initial reasoning behind being an intermediary between the insurers and the insured; between clients and service providers.
“This revolves around claims handling services,” affirms Okoth. “This is where the real service begins. The initial stages simply involve prospecting, negotiating offers and securing acceptances of suitable terms for a contract to consummate and run for a given period: usually one year for contracts of indemnity and an agreed term for benefit contracts.
“However, the real service begins when the risk is insured against results in an accident or loss of life or property belonging to the customer. Chama’s duty is to not only advise the client on the procedures and requirements but to pursue the matter to its conclusion; ensuring the customer is adequately compensated or indemnified in accordance with the policy terms and conditions.”
Chama’s service continues further through the ability and capacity to advise the client on potential future risks as well, offering risk management training and consultancy to mitigate prospective incidents post the initial claim. And it is this value-add philosophy that Chama, and its CEO, Abungu, believes will stand the Company in good stead for its own long-term sustainability.
He concludes: “Looking forward three-five years, I envisage you will be speaking to Chama not as an agency with limited capacity but rather as a brokerage firm with professional indemnity cover that can tender for and service parastatals and mega risks.
“This is part of our long-term plan in terms of progress and development.”