No company will succeed in Africa without understanding the local market. Few companies will be able to grow without the proper local partners on board.
CEO of Jubilee Insurance Mauritius, Pamela Bussier, discusses the importance of personal relations for business growth in Mauritius, how to balance digitisation with personal service and the fundamentals for success in the Mauritian insurance market.
AfricaLive: How would you define the identity of Jubilee Insurance here in Mauritius?
Pamela Bussier: Our history goes back to 1950, we started as a small agency operating on the island only, and we incorporated Jubilee Insurance Mauritius Limited in 1997. We are a subsidiary of Jubilee Holdings Limited who are the largest insurer in East Africa and are present in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Mauritius and also in Pakistan.
The aim of Jubilee in Mauritius is to grow the business by offering products which are relevant to this market. Mauritius is a very price sensitive market and a market in which a lot of education of the public is still required. For example, an area such as home insurance is not mandatory here, and therefore, a lot of the public will not think of taking out insurance. There is a lot of work to be done to change how insurance is seen. We do a lot of work on social media to explain the importance of insurance to individuals and to educate the market.
AfricaLive: Mauritius, therefore, has a cultural issue to overcome in order to develop the insurance industry?
Pamela Bussier: Yes, there is a price issue as well. The Mauritian approach is often to budget for something such as insurance last and we, therefore, need to be very competitive on price in order to grow our market.
Products must also be easily understood and well presented. In a market where people often don’t have insurance, you need to make the products as accessible as possible.
AfricaLive: In addition to educating the public, I am aware you invest a lot in skills development and training within your team. What is your approach to skills development in the Mauritian market?
Pamela Bussier: The Mauritian market is unique. Taking an approach that works elsewhere in Africa or elsewhere in the world and copying it won’t work. Also bringing people in from East Africa and expecting them to work in the same way wouldn’t work. We must train and develop skills and knowledge which meet the needs of the Mauritian market.
In the corporate market in Mauritius, personal relationships and building trust are vital. It is a small market. If people do not know you and do not trust you personally then they will not be open to doing business.
AfricaLive: How is technology changing the insurance industry in Mauritius?
Pamela Bussier: Jubilee has strongly embraced the changes being brought by technology and we have a very strong IT department. We fully believe that digitisation and innovation are vital parts of our strategy to bring insurance to the market.
We were the first company here to have a digital portal to sell insurance and process claims, which is part of our strategy to reach out to younger generations.
To bring insurance into every Mauritian home, it is clear that the internet is key.
We are aware that we need to be careful, though. Insurance is all about minimising risk while harnessing technology to maximise profit within the regulatory system. This still needs to be done carefully.
AfricaLive: One of the challenges facing many companies now is balancing the two areas we have discussed; the importance of personal relationships with the power of technology. How can you ensure embracing technology does not result in losing that personal relationship?
Pamela Bussier: What separates a good insurance company from a bad one remains the customer experience. If you have a claim, how is that company going to communicate with you and deal with you as the claim is processed?
The fundamentals of good customer service do not change. We invest in technology to ensure that the customer experience is enhanced.
You need good ethics and good corporate governance at the heart of the company to provide excellent customer service while protecting the business from fraudulent claims.
AfricaLive: Mauritius is at a crossroads in many ways presently. How confident do you feel that the country can move forward and build on its potential as a trading hub for the African continent?
Pamela Bussier: I am very confident in Mauritius. We are on the right track, we are doing things the right way. We have industries that are progressing, we are connecting Africa with Asia, and we have the port, airport and infrastructure to do that. The people of Mauritius are all passionate and want to take the country further and want to see our GDP grow.
The government, I believe, has a clear vision of where we are going, outlined in Vision 2030.
In the private sector, we are all keen to help and to do anything we can to push the country forward.