Lesley Ndlovu is an executive with extensive international experience in insurance and investment management. He is currently the CEO of the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Group, a Specialised Agency of the African Union founded in 2012. ARC is a hybrid mutual insurer and the commercial affiliate of the Group founded in 2014. The ARC Group was established to help African governments improve their capacities to better plan, prepare, and respond to natural disasters triggered by extreme weather events, as well as outbreaks and epidemics. Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online caught up with Mr. Lesley Ndlovu to reflect on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, lessons, key highlights of ARC 2021 financial report and the ARC Gender Strategy.
Alaba: To begin, perhaps you could briefly share the African Risk Capacity (ARC) position on the pandemic. The challenges, lessons and how the industry is dealing with the impact?
Lesley: The pandemic was a period of great uncertainty for everyone. For us at ARC, it forced us overnight to become a virtual organisation in a business where face to face interaction with our clients is extremely important. It was also an opportunity for growth because it made our clients, particularly governments, more mindful of risk management and anticipating what could go wrong. As a result, we saw double digit growth in our core insurance segments. We are looking to expand our product offering to include insurance coverage for outbreaks and epidemics.
Alaba: What would you say are the impacts and highlights of the ARC 2021 financial report?
Lesley: 2021 has been a challenging year due to the payment of large insurance claims all across Africa. However, we are an impact oriented insurance company, paying claims means that we are helping out people facing difficulty after an extreme weather event and the funds we provide allows the affected people to bounce back and continue with life. Since the inception of ARC, we have paid close to US$100 million in claims.
Alaba: Could you share with us your set goals for the year and the ARC Gender strategy?
Lesley: Our ambition is to mainstream the gender dimension into our insurance business in terms of both underwriting and claims, as women and girls bear the brunt of the impact of extreme weather. The starting point is to gather the data and measure the impact, we estimate that 54% of the claims we pay benefit women. In West Africa, we have worked with partners to provide insurance coverage for women farmers in the karité (shea butter) sector. We see this area as a tremendous business opportunity because it is a historically underserved segment.
Alaba: How are you making sure the ARC insurance offerings are easily accessible to clients in key sectors like agriculture, health, etc in the continent?
Lesley: At ARC, we focus on 3 core client segments – governments (federal and state), humanitarian agencies and small-medium scale farmers. We are building scale and diversification in our business both across products and geographies by introducing new products and entering new markets. Our mandate is to close the protection gap and increase the number of people protected by insurance. We want insurance to be more available, accessible and affordable. We have launched a number of strategic partnerships, including acquiring a stake in Pula Advisors, a leading parametric insurance aggregator, this move has enabled us to grow our market share in the agricultural sector. At COP 26, we mobilised close to US$100 million to subsidise governments in the payment of insurance premiums over multiple years.
Alaba: You recently met with key strategic partners in Nigeria, making it your third visit to the country. Can you tell us about the key outcomes emerging from the meeting?
Lesley: I had the good fortune of being in Abuja at the end of March, this was an opportunity to renew and strengthen relationships with our key stakeholders in Nigeria. We would closely work with the Ministry of Finance at the federal level as well as local insurance companies. With local insurance companies, we provide technical expertise on the development of products and risk management and reinsurance capacity, our local partners provide us with product distribution and local market insights. The scale of the opportunities is so vast that it can only, the opportunities can only be fully exploited through close collaboration between the various stakeholders.
Alaba: Lastly, Where do you visit next on your ARC mission visit and what is the future of climate risk insurance?
Lesley: Climate insurance is one of the most exciting sectors of the insurance market because it answers a pressing need on the African continent. Currently, there are over 700 million Africans whose livelihoods are vulnerable to extreme weather and insurance has a major role to play in protecting their lives and livelihoods. Agriculture is the mainstay of most African economies and any investments into the sector should be protected through insurance products as a de-risking mechanism. I fully expect the industry to grow at double digit rates for the foreseeable future because the coverage gap is large. Closing the gap is of paramount importance in the era of climate change, where the frequency and severity of natural disasters is increasing.
IWD 2022: Bukola Adelusi on Breaking The Bias
IWD 2022: As a corporate-commercial lawyer who has lived and worked in two continents, I have witnessed the significant impact women have had and continue to have in law, management, business and all other spheres of life. While there is an increased awareness of the social and systemic barriers to women’s development and participation in leadership. I believe there is so much more to be done in order to achieve gender equality.
The history of gender equality highlights the struggles and triumph of women. Which is why every day makes for fantastic opportunities to celebrate women in the world and the IWD gives another reason to do so. Outside of these celebrations, it is an opportunity to reflect and search our minds to identify biases towards women. Be open minded and willing to interrupt the biases and provide more support for women in our communities and workplaces. We celebrate IWD 2022 today but we must all work proactively every day to realize the change we desire.
In light of this year’s theme, “Break the bias”, I recognise that we all have biases and unfortunately we cannot control the biases people have towards us. My advice to women is – Don’t let others define your worth. Continue to work on being a better version of yourself. Knowing that there is no limit to what you can achieve. You are powerful beyond measure. You are enough!
Bukola Adelusi is a corporate and commercial lawyer who immigrated from Nigeria to Canada to further her LLM. Prior to her LL.M at Western University, she practiced law in one of the top law firms in Nigeria where she advised both local and international companies on banking and finance, mergers and acquisition, and private equity deals in Africa. Bukola currently works with a top law firm in Toronto, Canada.
Deloitte Africa CEO-Elect, Ruwayda Redfearn on Breaking The Bias
Deloitte Africa CEO-Elect, Ruwayda Redfearn speaks with Business Africa Online (BAO) on this year’s international women’s day theme: #BreakingTheBias. Excerpt.
“International Women’s Day is a timely reminder of the progress made over the past few decades around the advancement of women and improving gender parity. The day is also an opportunity to remind each other of the work that still needs to be done to realise the global goal of gender equality.
I would like to urge all boards and management teams to be conscious of the role and power of their decisions in advancing gender parity and be conscious and deliberate in their efforts.
This year, we commit to #BreaktheBias of class, roles, geography and expectations, and as a leader, I continuously challenge myself to promote gender parity as a business and social imperative.
Deloitte has adopted the “ALL IN: Accelerating gender and inclusion” strategy as a way to underline the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to accelerating representation of women in leadership roles.
The rationale and evidence linking gender parity to financial performance and business success is compelling, and linking gender diversity to better decision-making, is the basis of our business case at Deloitte Africa. We recognise that when we invest in women and work to eliminate inequalities, poverty can be eliminated and Africa as a whole can better its chances of becoming a stronger player in the global marketplace.”
Ruwayda Redfearn most recently served as the Chair of the Deloitte Africa Board. She started her career as a Trainee in the Durban office in 1997. After experiencing a New York secondment, she returned to Durban as a manager and was appointed a partner in 2004. She was promoted to lead the Audit Practice of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) region in 2010, serving some of the region’s most prestigious clients. During this time, Ruwayda also chaired the Global Young Partners’ Advisory Council reporting to the global CEO.
Ruwayda was appointed to the Deloitte Southern Africa Board and Remuneration Committee in 2011. In 2012, Ruwayda decided to take up a Chief Financial Officer role at a global commodity trading business for a three-year period, and gained invaluable experience, serving as a Board member on a number of the group’s companies.
She returned to Deloitte in 2015 as the Office Managing Partner for the KZN region and managed the Risk Advisory business for the Eastern Seaboard. Ruwayda was appointed to the Deloitte Africa Board in 2016 and has chaired the firm’s Remuneration Committee as well as serving as a member of the Performance, Reward, Succession & Nominations Committee.
Having spent time both in the profession and in commerce and industry, Ruwayda brings to the role an outsider’s view. She is also known for her ability to form and nurture strong relationships and networks, her strength in a crisis and her ability to make tough, bold decisions. She has proven herself to be a very capable and strong leader.
Ruwayda graduated from University of Natal and is a qualified CA(SA). Ruwayda also serves on the Deloitte Global Board of Directors.
Temi Marcella Awogboro On Breaking The Bias
Temi Marcella Awogboro is a leading investment professional and the Executive Director with Evercare Hospital Lekki. Temi speaks with Business Africa Online (BAO) on her thoughts on this year’s international women’s day theme: #BreakingTheBias. Excerpt.
Regardless of gender, International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 is a beautiful moment to reflect on and celebrate the strides made in women empowerment globally. However, gender biases and stereotypes remain deeply ingrained in our families, homes, societies and organizations, influencing the way we see and treat our girls and women.
In today’s world, women do two-thirds of the world’s work yet receive ten per cent of its income and own just one per cent of the means of production. Women and girls around the world still do not fully experience equal rights and their potential as economic, social and sustainable development change agents remains vastly untapped.
The most insidious and destructive barriers have included the persistent microaggressions that stem from fundamental societal and cultural attitudes about what it is to be male versus female. And the toxic internalised bias of the entitlement gap that leads to a loss of confidence of women in the home and the workplace. Especially in agitating for what is rightly due to them.
I firmly believe the unique experiences and perspectives of women at all decision-making levels are critical in the formulation of decisions, policies and laws that work for all. By calling out bias, questioning stereotypes, and investing in women. I am striving to address the embedded societal, cultural and workplace structures that prevent women from achieving their optimal selves. #BreakTheBias
About Temi Marcella Awogboro
Temi Marcella Awogboro is a leading investment professional and executive with over 15 years of experience. Spanning across deal origination, execution, portfolio management, exits, business building and board management in developed and growth markets. Across a number of sectors including technology, healthcare, and financial services. She currently serves as the Executive Director with Evercare Hospital Lekki wholly owned by TPG Capital.
Prior to this, she was the West Africa deal lead of the Health Fund. Temi is a Co-Founder and Partner with Kairos Angels and the Magic Fund. She started her career at Goldman Sachs, where she was honoured as a Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Scholar.
She is a firm believer in the power of private capital to transform lives and is passionate about harnessing this power as a catalyst for profound, deep-rooted change globally. She has committed over half a billion in private partnership capital across strategic sectors globally.