BIMA named the winner of the inaugural Reuben James Summerlin (RJS) Innovation Award. The Award recognises the PFIP partner that has made the greatest contribution to Financial Inclusion in the Pacific. The judging criteria demanded evidence of an innovative, client-centred approach, products that reach the truly underserved and large-scale uptake to prove a significant impact on financial inclusion in the region.
BIMA began operations in Papua New Guinea in 2014, enrolling more than 600,000 customers by the end of 2016. Almost 85% of BIMA's base is trying insurance for the first time. The judges praised BIMA for identifying an opportunity, creating a market and transforming an industry in such a short amount of time and setting an example for other financial inclusion players.
PFIP provided an investment grant to BIMA in 2014 under the European Union’s RED 2 programme, enabling BIMA to expand outreach in the underdeveloped Highlands region, through reducing delivery costs, while improving customer service.
Having proven its business model in Papua New Guinea, BIMA has now embarked on ambitious regional expansion strategy, setting up a ‘Pacific Hub’ in Fiji which will offer low-cost insurance to five countries in the region. So far, they have registered over 30,000 customers holding 57,000 policies.
Presenting the award PFIP Manager Mark Flaming said “Insurance is mostly taken out by breadwinners to reduce the financial burden on their families in case of their death or hospitalisation. Because the average Papua New Guinean household has five members, we can infer that by 2016, almost one-quarter of Papua New Guineans (24%) will benefit from this one innovative product. Such scale is an astounding achievement in a market such as Papua New Guinea, and PFIP is proud to be working with BIMA.
The prize commemorates the memory of the late Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) Manager, Reuben Summerlin, and honour his legacy to financial inclusion in the Pacific.