Training microinsurance professionals in West Africa

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A total of 80 microfinance professionals have participated in two West African workshops designed to provide introductory training on microinsurance for microfinance institutions. The two one-day sessions, in Dakar, Senegal and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, were organised by the MiN, the ILO’s Impact Insurance Facility, ADA and PlaNet Guarantee.

The workshops built on the success of a pilot event in Ethiopia in 2017 which demonstrated that MFIs are a great channel for delivering microinsurance products and services to micro-entrepreneurs and SMEs. The aim was to expand awareness and understanding of microinsurance in order to drive consumer uptake, and to gauge the appetite for a potential two-year professional certification programme. 

ILO Senior Technical Officer Miguel Solana led sessions on synergies between microfinance and microinsurance, and creating trust-based relationships with low-income communities, using examples of MFIs in different parts of the world who have improved their microinsurance offer.

Asked to identify the barriers to expanding microinsurance, nearly 80 percent said it was down to a misunderstanding about microinsurance products, while more than half also mentioned the lack of availability of the right products at an affordable price.

By the end of the day, participants - most of whom came from MFIs or insurance companies - felt they were better equipped to change their current microinsurance business by adding value to their current offer, increasing efficiency and enhancing the contribution of microinsurance to their core business strategy.

The two West African countries were chosen partly because of the urgent need to develop the market for microinsurance products, especially in Burkina Faso where drought has hit small-scale farmers in recent years. Capacity building is essential if microinsurance penetration is to improve from its current low levels, and MFIs can play a crucial role in delivering insurance to low-income customers. However, although the workshops proved the appetite for such capacity building, much more needs to be done.

The success of both workshops can be judged from the initial feedback: nearly four out of five participants said they found the content relevant to their needs, and 95 percent said they would like to participate in similar events in the future. Importantly, nearly all said they had learned something concrete which they could put into practice in their work to enhance their microinsurance offer. Asked about developing the course into a fully-fledged professional qualification, although three quarters said they would be prepared to pay for such training, fewer than half had the budget to cover it.

The workshops would not have been possible without the active and enthusiastic support of the MiN members and the Government of Luxembourg - especially Max Lamesch, the Grand Dutchy’s Chargé d'Affaires in Ouagadougou - as well as the Burkina Faso Ministry of Finance. However, the future success of the training programme depends on members helping with logistics on the ground, such as hosting, providing a venue and catering, all of which add to the cost and can act as a barrier.