2018 was a year of intense discussions and passionate ideas from MiN members about the focus and strategy of the Network and how it can best deliver value for its members. These debates played out across a number of events during the year, notably the June Member Meeting (JMM), and were reflected in the issues raised in a series of Expert Forums, and blogs.
The 2018 JMM brought together around 60 participants representing 47 different organisations from all parts of the world to discuss current challenges, opportunities, trends and innovations. The main theme to emerge from two days of intense, and sometimes controversial debate was, where does the MiN fit into the bigger global sustainability agenda? And, as a consequence, how should the MiN position itself - micro, inclusive, sustainable, mass, popular? Some members questioned how far the MiN should align with the SDGs when so many of the poorest and most vulnerable people are still without insurance cover of any kind. On the other hand, insurance is an essential component of climate and agricultural disaster risk reduction for individuals, smallholder farmers and MSMEs. Future directions will also be shaped by the “microinsurance vs inclusive insurance” debate, which provoked some lively and controversial discussions. For some, it was mere semantics. For others, it encapsulates the essence of the debate around the future direction of the MiN.
MiN Board Chair Doubell Chamberlain, Managing Director of the Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion (Cenfri) emphasised that one of the inherent contradictions of microinsurance is that the things that create success are not always the most sexy or the latest technology, but getting the basics right such as managing regulatory frameworks and working with multiple stakeholders. Members were given a reality check by Thierry Flamand of Deloitte Luxembourg, who reminded them that microinsurance is a tiny fraction of the global insurance market. Other challenges come from disruptive FinTech and InsurTech innovations such as earth observation satellites and blockchain technology, which tend to outpace the regulatory and supervisory environment.
A series of exclusive member-only Expert Forums throughout the year reflected many of these concerns. MiN members were able to join webinars covering topics including cyber security and financial inclusion; customer centricity in microinsurance; making the case for valuable and viable inclusive insurance; exploring funeral insurance uptake among emerging consumers; women, health and inclusive insurance; and inclusive livestock insurance. Expert Forums draw on the expertise of specialists who present case studies and look at future trends, and just as importantly, members are able to quiz experts in real time and find out how lessons learned in other parts of the world can be applied in their region. Each Expert Forum is recorded and available for members to watch later if they can’t join live.
Once again in 2018, the monthly Network Exchange newsletter provided an invaluable insight into members’ work around the globe and their thoughts on industry trends. In a series of member profiles we heard from Kashf Foundation CFO Shahzad Iqbal about the foundation’s success in rolling out low-cost health insurance in Pakistan; incoming Board member Matthew Genazzini from Luxembourg-based ADA spoke on the origins of the Network, and how it grew from a project housed at ADA into a flourishing independent operation; and FIDES’ new Secretary-General Franciso Astelarra who has also joined the MiN Board, made a plea for insurance companies to understand the cultural, social and economic distinctions in different markets and countries. Long-standing member and founder of Microinsurance Master, Bert Opdebeeck shared his views on the evolution of the MiN and the excitement of starting his sector leadership programme. The three Board members who stepped down at the end of last year also offered their takes on the state of the sector and the MiN. Denis Garand believed many regulators still don’t understand consumer protection and tend to be too rigid; outgoing Alejandra Diaz of Fasecolda wanted members to share generously, to be open to listening and to avoid re-inventing the wheel; while IFAD’s Senior Technical Specialist Francesco Rispoli said the limited quality and quantity of data, especially for index insurance in developing countries, hinders the design and future growth of insurance markets.
Regardless of which sector or which region they came from, all of our members profiled agreed on one thing: the added value that a membership with the MiN brings to their everyday work.