By Faith Zaba
‘Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.’
This quote from Nineteenth-Century American poet Muriel Strode best describes the new exciting journey that the Zimbabwe Independent is embarking on with the relaunch of the insurance survey.
The Zimbabwe Independent Insurance Survey awards and magazine were first introduced in 2007 and ran annually until 2011.
The Insurance Survey, in its new form, is an annual review of the local insurance industry that provides an analytical overview and expert opinion on the performance of the country’s insurance sector.
Yesterday, in partnership with the National Social Authority (Nssa), we relaunched under the theme ‘Thriving In a New Business Environment’. The theme echoes the turbulence that the economy and insurance sector have gone through in the past year and a half as the country battles a relentless Covid-19 pandemic.
The impact of Covid-19 has been felt at all levels of business and the insurance industry has also been hard hit.
During this period since the first case was reported in China in December 2019, the global economy plunged into its worst recession since World War II. The global insurance industry was also caught in this down-ward spiral.
The theme for this year’s event is appropriate in that it inspires companies to think outside the box and come up with new, innovative solutions to survive.
As Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) commissioner Grace Muradzikwa said at the virtual insurance survey award ceremony last night: “I therefore, find the theme for this event: ‘Thriving In a New Business Environment’, appropriate in that corporates have had to adapt to remain relevant. With the Covid-19 induced restrictions, insurers have had to innovate in terms of products and distribution channels for survival.”
That said, the one factor that contributed to the resilience of the insurance sector was digitalisation. The rapid and smooth transition to digital processes in both sales and operations largely avoided stand-still in new business, which threatened to result from the lockdown measures implemented to contain the pandemic.
As the Zimbabwe Independent, we recognise that research and objective industry and company analysis is best conducted by independent researchers. This year, we partnered Mark & Associates Consulting Group as research consultants. We would like to congratulate Nyaradzo Life Assurance for being rated the Overall Insurance Company of the Year. We also like to give special recognition to Nyaradzo chief executive Philip Mataranyika and Old Mutual Life Assurance Company managing director Rutendo Magorimbo for their outstanding contribution to the success of the insurance industry.
We would also wish to congratulate Zimre Holdings Limited chief executive Stanley Kudenga for scooping the Chief Executive Officer of the Year award and the runner up Wadzanayi Phiri of Coronation Solutions.
The survey is being held when most companies are battling to stay afloat amid a challenging economic environment worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 117 000 people and killed close to 4 000 people.
Managing director Old Mutual Rest of Africa Clement Chinaka aptly described the operating environment for the insurance industry in Zimbabwe when he said: “If a fish depends on a small pond as its habitat, the health of its surroundings becomes a matter of life and death. There is abundant empirical research from advanced markets as well as emerging markets on the nexus between insurance industry and the performance of the general economy. That is, insurance and pensions industry require an economy that is doing well for them to thrive, and in turn a strong insurance and pensions sector enables economic growth”.
So as we relaunch the insurance survey, we celebrate growth and the fortitude of insurance companies operating in this turbulent period.
We salute all insurance players — small to large enterprises.
To the winning companies, we would like to recognise and salute your commitment to the economy and also your perseverance, innovation and creativity to ensure sustainability of business.
As Twitter powerhouse Mandy Hale points out: “Change can be scary, but you know what is scarier? Allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving and progressing”.