NAICOM and FSD Africa launch insurance focused accelerator program - BimaLab

BimaLab Nigeria aims to address gaps in the insurance market by equipping, educating, nurturing, and promoting innovators and Insurtech start-ups.

NAICOM and FSD Africa launch insurance focused accelerator program - BimaLab

FSD Africa, a specialist development agency, in collaboration with Nigeria’s National Insurance Commission (NAICOM)  have today launched BimaLab, an accelerator programme created to boost the development and adoption of digital solutions for the insurance sector.

Nigeria’s insurance sector, like other African countries is yet to fully kick off and go mainstream.  According to a report by the National Financial Inclusion Strategy Report, only 1.9% of its adult population has one form of insurance policy.

Some of the reasons why insurance has not been adopted has been because of insufficient knowledge of insurance, low purchasing power and disposable income, and confusion as to where to start from. A recent report by Deloitte indicates that affordable insurance products play a crucial role in reducing the effects of negative financial vulnerability and shocks.

Therefore, BimaLab Nigeria aims to address gaps in the insurance market by equipping, educating, nurturing, and promoting innovators and Insurtech start-ups. The initiative will support the nation’s vision to meet the increasing demand for innovative insurance products. It is designed to boost the development and adoption of digital solutions for the sector.

The BimaLab Accelerator Programme will make insurance more affordable for Nigerians. The programme will borrow from Kenya’s BimaLab I, BimaLab II and global best practises with a focus on local experience to provide Nigeria with the most competitive and attractive start-up accelerator programme.

Ten companies will be selected to participate in the ten-week programme that will provide the expertise, resources, and support to develop and scale market-ready solutions that will bring social and/or commercial value to Nigeria’s insurance sector.

To widen insurance coverage, FSD Africa recently rolled out a similar accelerator programme in Ghana (InnoLab). The startups being supported through the accelerator programmes will be expected to also speak to the needs of populations beyond their borders of origination.

Among the success stories from previous BimaLab Accelerator programmes is Bismart, a Kenyan insurance agency that has partnered with Britam to launch a short-term school fees insurance cover called Elimu Smart.

The policy protects school-going children from dropping out of school in the event their parent or guardian becomes critically ill or dies, safeguarding the future of the children even in cases of incidents.

FSD Africa is a specialist development agency working to reduce poverty by strengthening financial markets across sub-Saharan Africa. Established in 2012, and based in Nairobi, FSD Africa is incorporated as a non-profit company limited by guarantee in Kenya. It is funded by UK aid from the UK government.

FSD Africa’s team of financial sector experts work alongside governments, business leaders, regulators, and policymakers to design and build ambitious programmes that make financial markets work better for everyone.

Commenting on the launch of the BimaLab Accelerator Programme: Kelvin Massingham, Director – Risk and Resilience, FSD Africa said: “We believe that this programme will enhance the development of a vibrant ecosystem of start-ups; through collaboration with corporate partners, investors and research institutions to accelerate and scale innovation in the insurance industry in Nigeria.

We have successfully implemented the programme in Kenya and are commencing the same in Ghana.” He stated.

The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) was established in 1997 by the National Insurance Commission Act 1997 with responsibility for ensuring the effective administration, supervision, regulation, and control of insurance business in Nigeria and protection of insurance policyholders, beneficiaries and third parties to insurance contracts.

Mr Thomas Olorundare Sunday, Commissioner for Insurance/CEO National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) said:

“As a key driver of change in the financial sector, innovation has led to immeasurable efficiency and gains. Even though these changes can sometimes be accompanied by uncertainty and hesitation, there is evidence of great success. I do not doubt that with such collaborations, Nigeria is set to be a successful case study on insurance innovation across the continent.”

Ben Llewellyn-Jones, UK’s Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos said:

“As a result of Covid-19's negative impact and the resulting need for improved resilience against economic shocks, innovative insurance becomes increasingly important in addressing emerging vulnerabilities among businesses and households.

The UK government has long been enthusiastic about leveraging technology and innovation as major vehicles for making an impact and supporting the Nigerian government so the partnership between UK Aid funded FSD Africa and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) is crucial in fostering the development of an Insurtech ecosystem that focuses on growth, inclusion, and strategic alliances.”

Successful applicants will need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Unique, innovative businesses, focused on solving a compelling problem, economic or social, that bring social and/or commercial value to the insurance industry
  2. Makes innovative use of technology (hardware or software) as part of the business solution. Climate-based insurtech innovators and innovations addressing MSMEs are strongly encouraged to apply.
  3. Have a working prototype of the solution (at a minimum) that is either in the market or ready to launch.
  4. Have the potential to grow and scale to achieve high impact driving gains in line with inclusive insurance goals; and
  5. Have a leadership team comprised of driven, coachable, and collaborative people with some expertise in the area of focus.
  6. Gender-balanced teams and solutions that incorporate a gender inclusion lens will have an added advantage

Applications for BimaLab Nigeria are now open on https://bimalab-nigeria.azurewebsites.net/. The deadline for submission is 23 February 2022.