Posted by: africanpressorganization | 9 December 2009

Insurance providers get support to invest in low income market / The ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility calls insurance providers to apply for innovation grant



Insurance providers get support to invest in low income market / The ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility calls insurance providers to apply for innovation grant

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 9, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility issued a call for grant proposals to encourage insurance providers to experiment with new products and develop strategic partnerships that will bring affordable insurance products to working poor in developing countries.

To overcome the major challenges associated with health financing for low-income households, the Facility proposes a special emphasis on health microinsurance, but also welcomes applications for projects focusing on high-impact products and innovative distribution channels. Providers that have the potential to provide better insurance products to many low-income people but need their capacity to be to strengthened can also receive support including consulting services, training and exchange visits.

‘The big challenge that microinsurance is grappling with at the moment is health insurance. It is very difficult to provide on a sustainable basis, but it’s the thing that the people want most. Families in developing countries often fall into poverty because of acute illness or a catastrophic event affecting their health and their capacity to generate an income. Studies highlight that many low-income people are willing and able to pay for a safety net that protects their family or business, but they generally cannot access affordable products that would meet their needs. On the supply side, insurance providers often lack the know how to reach this market and need to experiment to develop sustainable business models. The grants are there to support those risk takers, cover their start up costs and harness lessons learnt’ says Craig Churchill, team leader of the ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility

‘[Microinsurance] is a profitable market and we would love to invite as many people as possible to try to make this market as competitive as possible. Honestly, there can’t be enough competition. Competition is going to be what is important to forming a real market at the bottom of the pyramid.’ Added Brandon Mathews, Head of Microinsurance, Zurich Financial Services

The deadline for the submission of proposals is 17:00 (Central European time) on 2 March 2010. Guidelines for applying and complete project descriptions supported by the Microinsurance Innovation Facility can be found on the Facility’s website at

Launched in 2008, the ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility has already provided 34 innovation grants – ranging from US$20,000 to US$600,000 – during three previous rounds to insurance companies, cooperatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other microinsurance providers. The grantees have tested a variety of experiences so far and tend to show that investing in microinsurance adds several benefits to their regular business line. These include a diversified risk portfolio, ability to serve new markets, enhanced reputation, and market intelligence and innovation applicable across a range of business activities.

‘Microinsurance can protect the working poor and small enterprises that are the building block of the hopes of any developing country for social advancement and economic development’ recently claimed Charles Dan, the ILO Regional Director for Africa. The Microinsurance Innovation Facility is part of the ILO’s efforts to work towards a fair globalization with a wide range of partners and develop financial services, including microinsurance, to help workers manage economic hardship brought on by situations such as drought, hospitalization, or a death in the family and thus enable them to break the vicious cycle of poverty.

For more information: contact


International Labour Organisation (ILO) – Microinsurance Innovation Facility


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