President of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, Mrs. Funmi Babington- Ashaye, in this interview speaks on efforts the Institute is making to grow insurance penetration. Excerpts
By Rosemary Onuoha
YOU will step down very soon after one year as CIIN president. What are the things you would want the next president to continue?
The projects that are very dear to my heart are the M.Sc in Insurance and Risk Management programme at the University of Lagos. I knew when I started, that I will not be able to complete them. I am sure the next president will definitely continue the work I have started.
The Institute is engaged in the distribution of textbooks to schools, what is your assessment of the impact so far?
My personal assessment is that it has been well received. Currently, in some states, they now offer insurance as a subject in secondary schools. The extent the Institute wants to get to is to ensure that the government makes insurance compulsory in schools so that we will have a situation where insurance is compulsory in secondary schools. If we can get to that level, I can tell you that the level of education and awareness will increase tremendously. Presently, in some secondary schools, a lot of students have taken insurance as a subject. For our examination, we have a 12 per cent growth in enrolment in the last two to three years. Some secondary schools have started taking insurance as a subject in WAEC and teachers have also been trained on insurance.
What is the level of work on the Victoria Island office of the Institute?
The Victoria Island, Lagos building has been an issue for a long time. We are still passionate about completing it. The fact that we have renovated the Yaba office does not mean we are going to abandon it. After we have completed the building at Victoria Island, it will be our head office and we will lease the Yaba office or keep the workers there. We are really passionate about completing the Victoria Island building.
Members of the Institute recently went on an exchange programme in Hong Kong, what is the impact of the visit?
The Hong Kong visit is the best thing that has ever happened to us. We went to Hong Kong because we understand that the retail market is well developed. We decided to visit the country so that we can learn how they were able to develop their retail market.
I am sure that the insurance chief executives officers, CEOs, that went with us and attended the sessions will agree that they came back with ideas and knowledge to help them grow their businesses. Also, we have so many things in common.
All the challenges we are having in this market, the Hong Kong market also have them and they have been able to overcome some of these challenges like retail marketing and the digital aspect. We also discussed partnering like the bancassurance system and how we can make bancassurance work because majority of them have strategic alliances not only with banks but also with different distribution channels that we don’t have in Nigeria.
We also discussed the issues that Nigerian companies are having like human relations and investment issues. We should not forget the fact that their economy is well developed when compared with that of Nigeria.