BIMA: brings micro-insurance to underserved families in emerging markets

BIMA: brings micro-insurance to underserved families in emerging markets

Written by Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Feniks - Founders The DIA Community on 29 May, 2017

Micro insurance

BIMA is the leading provider of mobile-delivered insurance. The company provides insurance and underwriting to millions of low-income people via innovative partnerships with major mobile network operators and financial services businesses. They offer a range of affordable life, personal accident and health micro insurance products. BIMA combines the power of mobile technology with a unique agent-led approach to educate consumers of the benefits of having insurance. The 3.500 sales agents are the driving force of the company. Consumers can pay for insurance via deduction of prepaid airtime credit.

In just six years, the BIMA model has transformed the insurance landscape in the countries where they operate, proving that it is possible to reach consumers at the bottom of the pyramid at scale. BIMA, Swahili for insurance has over 30 million registered customers, 93% living on less than $10 per day, and has paid out over 3 million USD in claims. They have operations in 16 countries across 3 continents. Currently they partner with over 16 local operating companies, with global framework agreements with leading telecoms players Telefonica, Orange, Axiata Group and Digicel and Tigo. Together, BIMA, Axiata Digital and Axiata have revolutionized access to insurance in Asia, using mobile technology to deliver services that are inaccessible via traditional channels. For example, in less than a year, BIMA together with Axiata’s subsidiary Smart, has become the largest provider of life insurance in Cambodia. At end 2016, approximately 3 million Axiata customers in three of its operating companies are covered by mobile insurance policies.

Xpansion to mobile health
In 2016 BIMA decided to enter the health sector with the mHealth division pilot which is now being rolled out worldwide. In emerging markets people need to travel far and spend many hours in waiting rooms to see a physician. BIMA’s mobile health services, mHealth, makes it easy, quick and affordable to access medical advice from a qualified doctor via a tele-doctor service. Memberships are available in 3, 6 or 12 month pre-paid packages and include an unlimited number of phone consultations with a qualified doctor for the whole family.
It is like their insurance, the mHealth business is based on key principles:

  • Tech-enabled, propriety tech platform that drives more than registration; the doctor’s portal governs services delivery to bring international standards of care to people in even the most remote communities 
  • Responsible distribution, over 75% accessing insurance for the first time and over 90% never used an mHealth service before; BIMA dedicated agents provide product education to every customer before they buy.
  • Customer-centric, they design the service around the needs of the end-user, using data analytics and AI to personalize the experience and improve iterations of the product. 

Combining telecom and insurance
BIMA is neither a telecom company nor an insurance company – they use technology to bridge the two, plus provide these companies with further support on distribution, product development and daily management. Insurance is a powerful tool that can transform the lives of low-income families. These people are at the highest risk of illness and injury, and they feel the financial impact of these shocks immediately. Insurance can prevent their family from falling back into poverty. 93% of BIMA’s customers live on less than 10 US per day and 80 – 95% have never had access to other insurance.

But insurance is a hard sell: people think it’s a huge scam, or don’t have access to any. But, nearly everyone has access to mobile phones. By combining the two, a ground-breaking approach, you provide millions having access to insurance, while linking insurance premium to bonus mobile talk-time. The most basic insurance costs 20 – 80 US cents per month, and can even be paid in daily instalments. BIMA uses the principle of mercy claims (giving the customer benefit of doubt) and play a role in claims administration and delivery of claims payments.

Why we selected BIMA for DIA Barcelona
BIMA is the world’s leading provider of low-cost insurance. They disrupt the global insurance industry and fuel financial inclusion by using mobile technology. BIMA’s ground breaking transactions, programs and initiatives harness the power of ICT to address basis needs at the Bottom of the Pyramid.

At DIA Amsterdam, Nicola Smith, Head of Communications & Niklas Berglund, Business & Data Analyst, presented the new growth and impact figures of BIMA mHealth.

Who are BIMA
BIMA launched in 2011 when AB Kinnevik and Millicom International decided to start a company in the space of mobile financial services in Africa. In developing countries, there is little customer loyalty when it comes to telecom, people juggle SIM cards and connections and it becomes a race to the bottom in terms of prices as companies keep trying to win customers. They decided to give free insurance instead of free minutes or discounts – a small part of talk time goes into insurance premium. They never saw themselves as a social enterprise until the entry of Leapfrog Investments with one of the largest financial round among Swedish tech companies. Gustaf Agartson has been CEO at BIMA since the company’s formation. He moved to the capital of Ghana in 2010 and started building the business. He previously worked in management roles at Tele2, another Kinnevik company.
BIMA HQ is based in Stockholm. The company raised $ 75 million to date, most recently $16.8 from Asian telecommunications giant Axiata. They are now at mid-stage phase, coupling high-growth a focus on developing operational excellence and enhanced data analysis.

“We’re proud of our success so far, but really we believe we’re just at the start of this journey. Mobile technology has the power to transform people’s lives”. Gustaf Agartson, CEO BIMA


Presenter: Niklas Berglund
Presenter: Nicola Smith

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