Lindelwe 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” Ltd. ARC Ltd is a specialist insurance company that provides parametric insurance coverage to African countries against extreme weather events and natural disasters. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Lesley shares his goals, disaster risk solutions, COVID-19 and the future. Excerpt.
Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about ARC Ltd and the gap its filling in Africa?
Lesley: ARC is a specialist insurance company that was established by the African Union to help African governments improve their capacities to better plan, prepare, and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters, and adapt to climate change. ARC works through collaboration and innovative finance, to enable countries to strengthen their disaster risk management systems and access rapid and predictable financing when disaster strikes to protect the food security and livelihoods of their vulnerable populations.
From 2014 to 2019, ARC cumulatively provided drought insurance coverage worth US$590 million to insure 59 million vulnerable people in Member States and paid out US$61 million in insurance claims.
Alaba: As its new Chief Executive, what are your set milestone in terms of growth and impact?
Lesley: Our target is to achieve US$100 million in gross written premiums in the next 5 years, providing gross insurance coverage of US$1 billion. This level of scale will allow us to reach 150 million people in Africa and more effectively use insurance to protect people against food insecurity brought about by natural disasters such as droughts and floods, the frequency and severity of natural disasters is increasing as a result of climate change.
Alaba: Establishing a risk pooling insurer is clearly a difficult task. What can other Regions learn from the ARC concept?
Lesley: The idea of sovereign risk pooling is catching on globally, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility was the first pool set up in 2007 after the devastating hurricanes suffered by the Caribbean countries. ARC Ltd was set up in 2014, subsequently other risk pools have been set up for the Pacific Island nations, the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative and SEADRIF in South East Asia.
The success of the risk pools depends a great deal on political support by the member countries and a clearly demonstrable value for all the pool members.
Alaba: What are the benefits of your products for vulnerable member sovereign?
Lesley: The main benefit of working with ARC Ltd, is that we are owned by the African countries and therefore exist to cater to their unique needs. We are able to build customized insurance solutions for each country. Our parametric insurance product pays claims very quickly, typically within 10 days of the insured event, giving governments timely funding to start the relief and recovery efforts. Furthermore, ARC Ltd has an Agency arm which provides capacity building for countries to help them understand the risks that they face and development mitigation strategies.
Alaba: Could you discuss more on The Extreme Climate Facility (XCF) initiative?
Lesley: The XCF is an exciting and very innovative concept. The main objective of the Extreme Climate Facility (XCF) is to reduce vulnerability to extreme events by providing enabling conditions for increased adaptation investment and improved risk transfer. The XCF structure combines a green bond and a catastrophe bond, issued centrally on behalf of member states can address critical barriers to adaptation investment and increase post-disaster funding.
Alaba: How is the current global pandemic affecting ARC? Are you Post COVID-19 prepared?
Lesley: Financially, the COVID induced volatility in the financial markets reduced the market value of our investment portfolio. However, our investment portfolio is made up of high quality, investment grade bonds which we fully expect will pay at par, the default risk remains extremely low.
From a business perspective, our sovereign clients had to respond to COVID 19 and this put a tremendous strain on their finances and in some instances, negatively impacted their ability to pay insurance premiums. Furthermore, due to the lockdown restrictions it was challenging to sustain ongoing interactions with the governments. However, the ability to work remotely has improved over time and the lockdown restrictions are slowly being eased.
All the teams within ARC Ltd have been able to adapt to working remotely and there has been minimal disruption to our activities.
ARC will be launching an insurance product covering Outbreaks and Epidemics, the insurance payouts will provide the funding required for an early and effective government response.
Alaba: How does the use of technology provide opportunities in the fact of natural disaster?
Lesley: Insurance is a data driven industry, data enables us to understand and calibrate risks, to develop appropriate mitigation measures. In parametric insurance we rely on satellites for rainfall data and we use technology to model and predict losses that arise from weather events. This data can be used to anticipate disasters and take timely action to prevent them or reduce their severity.
Alaba: What is the future for ARC in terms of its size, products and impact?
Lesley: ARC Ltd is currently diversifying its product range to include coverage against floods, tropical cyclones and outbreaks & epidemics. We already have a very successful drought insurance product which has been the mainstay of the company. The new products are essential to more holistically meet the needs of our clients and to ensure diversification on our balance sheet. These additional products will allow us to reach our ambition of US$100 million in gross revenues while ensuring that we are more relevant and credible in meeting the needs of our clients.
Alaba: As an industry leader, how can Africa better develop and position its insurance market?
Lesley: Insurance penetration, which is the ratio of insurance premiums to GDP remains rather low in Africa at 1 to 3% compared to over 10% in most developed markets. This low penetration is linked to limited knowledge of insurance as a risk management tool, lack of trust of insurance companies and products that are too complex and do not fully meet the needs and expectations of customers. The insurance industry plays an importance role in the economy by making households more resilient to shocks and giving entrepreneurs’ confidence to launch new ventures, in addition insurance companies are long term investors in the financial markets.
To grow the insurance industry, governments need to create an enabling regime through risk based supervision of insurance companies and the insurance industry needs to develop appropriate and relevant products and build distribution systems that make it easier and more cost effective to reach customers.
Alaba: How do you relax outside work? Tell us one of your favourite destinations in Africa? Why?
Lesley: I am an avid long distance runner, I run about 80 to 100km every week. Running clears my mind and makes me sharper and more focused. My favorite destination is Diani Beach in Kenya; it has dreamy unspoilt white sand beaches that stretch out as far as the eye can see.
B I O G R A P H Y
Lindelwe 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” Ltd. ARC Ltd is a specialist insurance company that provides parametric insurance coverage to African countries against extreme weather events and natural disasters.
Lesley spent close to a decade in various senior management roles in insurance and asset management with the AXA Group in London, Paris and Singapore, including as CEO of a Lloyd’s of London insurance syndicate, Head of Corporate Development for AXA Global Asset Management and Chief Investment Officer for AXA Singapore.
Prior to joining the AXA Group, he was Vice President, Investments at AXIS Capital in Bermuda, as part of an institutional investment team managing US$15 billion in a global multi-asset investment portfolio. He began his professional career with Deloitte, where he had various assignments in corporate finance, audit, tax advisory. He currently serves as a Non-Executive Director for various financial services companies around the world.
Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu is a graduate of Christ Church, University of Oxford in England and at the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) in France. He is a CFA charter holder, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales and a member of the Institute of Directors.
Ava Airways CEO Olivier Arrindell On Envisioning An Airline Of The Future And Connecting Africa With The Caribbean
Ava Airways CEO Olivier Arrindell is an experienced professional, business acumen and became one of the youngest members of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry with ongoing success in Latina America, Central America, North America, and the Caribbean. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, He talks about the Ava Airways brand, his mission to connect Africa with Caribbean and role as the new CEO. Excerpts.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Ava Airways and the gap its fill?
Olivier: With Ava Airways, we didn’t want to just envision a bunch of loosely connected potential innovations. Instead, our goal was to create a cohesive concept for the future airline. To do this, we organized all of our design innovations around three core principles: “Taking Crazy Out of Flying”- making Ava Airways actually worthy of passenger affection; “Know the Journey”- designing touch points that are tailored to the unique moments comprising a passenger’s journey with Ava Airways; and, “Membership Matters”- creating a business model that goes beyond fare-based transactions.
Ava Airways is an Airline carrier of the Dominican Republic with a clear plan and vision to properly connect and operate scheduled flights via its Hub in this city of Santo Domingo, to the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa. The Service Ava Airways plans to provide would allow Latin American and Caribbean enraptures and corporations to properly connect with each other in commerce and trade specially in the tourism sector
Alaba: As its new Chief Executive, what are your set milestones in terms of growth and impact?
Olivier: In this role, I am responsible and accountable to the Board of Directors for carrying out my duties and my number one goal is to properly connect Africa with the Americas and the Americas with each other. Being the CEO of an airline is not the kind of job that someone just slips into. Typically, these airline big wigs worked their way up the corporate ranks. In some cases, they’ve been recruited from similar positions in other industries.
Historically, most airline CEOs have spent a considerable amount of time in some type of management structure. I did not have that kind of road map. I was appointed CEO of Ava Airways because of my row core entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset. It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.“It’s about seeing the big picture and thinking like there is no tomorrow,”
“To me, being of African descendant, that’s the spirit I live by and is the way of approaching situations where you feel empowered, motivated, and capable of taking things into your own hands, “Like connecting Africa with the Caribbean”.
Companies that nurture an entrepreneurial spirit within their organization encourage their employees to not only see problems, solutions and opportunities, but to come up with ideas to do something about them.” Entrepreneurial CEO’s like myself tend to have a more innovative approach to thinking about their products or services, new directions to take the company in, or new ways of doing old tasks.
Alaba: One of your major priorities at Ava Airways is to connect Africa with the Caribbean and Latin America. What sparked the interest and why now?
Olivier: the second largest African population in the world is Brazil, The USA, Then Spanish Specking Americas, then we have the Caribbean. Why now you ask? Because now its our TIME !
Alaba: Could you tell us more about your Africa destination strategy with emphasis on your unique offerings?
Olivier: This is a technical question hahaha, for the simple reason I cannot provide key secrets to our strategy and game plan. Keep a close eye on Ava Airways and see the strategy manifest itself.
Alaba: How is the current global pandemic affecting your operations and how are you navigating the challenges in these dire times?
Olivier: To be frank we have been given a gift from the higher powers, because just in time for the launching of Ava Airways here comes Ms. Corona Virus with her attitude, so we have escape all of the issues that others are currently facing and I am great to the gift.
Alaba: What are the safety measures and assurance you have incorporated in your operations? Are you Post COVID-19 prepared?
Olivier: YES, we are. Ava Airways Director of SQS and the rest of the team shall implement all of the recommendation that is provided by IATA and Local Authorities.
Alaba: How would you describe the state of aviation in Africa and where do you see the industry in 5 years?
Olivier: I believe I am not the correct person to answer this question at this time, however I do see the state of Aviation in Africa as one of the same kind you are seeing today with the movement of people from Africa to Europe and North America to the movement of people from Africa to the Caribbean and Latin America.
Alaba: What is the future for Ava Airways in terms of its size, products and impact?
Olivier: I believe Ava Airways future is bright and you will be around to see what kind of product and impact we shall have on the industry.
Alaba: What is your leadership style and philosophy?
Olivier: Simple, Entrepreneurial Spirit. My fundamental believe is, if you want to make people happy sell ice cream!
Alaba: Your message to the industry and the critical stakeholders who depends on it for survival?
Olivier: Financial disciple and change the way you think.
B I O G R A P H Y
Olivier Arrindell was the Managing Director of Financial Planning, Investor Relations, & Corporate Planning for Grace Aviation Holdings, LLC, and in December of 2019 was appointed as the CEO of Ava Airways by it’s Board of Directors. In this role, he is responsible and accountable to the Board of Directors for carrying out his duties and possesses a demonstrated track record in interacting with a policy board. Mr. Arrimdell plans, coordinates, directs, and is responsible for all activities associated with the operation of Ava Airways and it’s related economic development activities.
During his career, Mr. Arrindell has been instrumental in several initiatives including the development of Antigua & Barbuda’s new International Airport and many others, in addition, he has led the communications efforts around Grace Aviation’s company’s investment negotiation with investment partners and debt offerings. Most recently, he played a key role in the development and communication of Ava Airways balanced capital deployment strategy plan for its commercial airline plans which have resulted in favorable terms and conditions through a dividend principle policy.
Prior to joining Ava Airways and leveraging his professional experience and business acumen, Mr. Arrindell became one of the youngest members of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.
Mr. Arrindell’s ongoing success in Latina America, Central America, North America, and the Caribbean has been facilitated by his knowledge of financial management, Strategic Alliances, airline/aviation strategist, and a track record of successfully pulling together exceptional teams and business partners.
African Infrastructure Investment Managers appoints Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson as new co-CEOs
African Infrastructure Investment Managers new co-CEOs, Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson (Source: AIIM Africa)
London and Cape Town, 3 August 2020: African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments and Africa’s most experienced infrastructure manager, has appointed two joint-managing directors to be based in Cape Town and Lagos, following the retirement of the company’s previous CEO.
Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson, have been appointed from within the business, and will continue to sit in their South Africa and Nigeria offices respectively, as two of AIIM’s key markets in sub-Saharan Africa. As AIIM’s new joint-MD’s, they take over from Jurie Swart, who has been CEO of AIIM since 2014 and recently elected to take early retirement to focus on a new challenge outside the AIIM business.
Commenting on the new roles, Paul Boynton, non-executive chairman of the Board at AIIM said: “Vuyo and Sola have both been integral members of the AIIM team for many years and bring with them extensive and varied investment experience and leadership skills. On behalf of the entire Board, I am looking forward to working even closer with them in their new joint-MD roles as the business continues to expand and move forward.”
Vuyo Ntoi said, “I am very excited to step into this new joint role, continuing to work with Sola and the Exco team to drive the strategy that we have had in place, which has and continues to deliver excellent outcomes for our investors and stakeholders.”
Sola Lawson added, “I am honoured to take on the role of joint-MD of AIIM and look forward to working closely with Vuyo and the wider team to continue to build on the strong foundations developed throughout Jurie’s time as CEO and to help progress AIIM’s strategic journey.”
Vuyo Ntoi has been a member of the senior management team at AIIM for over a decade and is the co-portfolio manager of AIIM’s IDEAS Managed Fund, one of South Africa’s largest domestic infrastructure equity funds. He was also involved in the initial roll out of the business across the continent and has led and participated in high profile and pioneering projects in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Mali.
Sola Lawson joined AIIM in 2011, founding the Nigeria office, AIIM’s first permanent establishment in Africa outside of South Africa. He has been a member of the senior management team at AIIM since joining and is a member of the IDEAS investment committee. Sola has played a leading role in originating, executing and managing c. USD500 million of AIIM-managed fund investments across Africa, serving on the board of directors of several AIIM portfolio companies within the digital infrastructure, power or renewables and midstream sectors. Prior to joining AIIM, Sola was a member of the infrastructure funds team at Macquarie Group, and prior to that worked at PwC London.
Issued by: AIIM Africa
Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade: Casa Foundation, Career and Impact (Biography)
Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade has garnered 27 years cognate experience from vertical industry including banking, finance, real estate investments, and non-profit sector management. Olutoyin started her banking career in 1992 as a management trainee in Nigeria; and rose to become the Vice President of Treasury and Group Executive, Investment Banking in 2007.
Following her relocation to Canada, she consulted with like-minded professionals in her community with an aim to identify the gaps in social-economic development and how these gaps could be bridged to promote development. Her goal was to deepen economic prosperity of start-ups and African diasporas businesses to impact the Community. The result of this community-wide engagement in 2011 led to the creation CasaFoundation for International Development.
That same year, Olutoyin started Friends of Africa (FOA) Economic Forum as a platform to fasttrack business and economic growth of Africa. ubsequently, CasaFoundation launched AfroInvestors (Investors Magazine on Africa), Exchange (Founders’ forum), and Women-Inspire, (celebrating Businesswomen). CasaFoundation has shaped the conversation around the African-rising narrative and how the diasporas can facilitate economic prosperity of the World.
Olutoyin’s educational background influenced some of the steps she took towards her educational development. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Ondo State University, Nigeria in 1989. In 1999, she received an MBA from Nigeria’s premier University, Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife), and later enrolled for executive management programs to hone her leadership and management skills. She completed the senior management program at Lagos Business School in 2005.
In 2006, Olutoyin completed the Business marketing program at IMD, Lausanne, Geneva, and by 2009, she had graduated from Wharton School’s advanced management program. In 2012, Olutoyin embarked on another journey of self- discovery by starting a Doctoral program. She completed the program within 3 years and graduated in May 2016 with a Doctor of Management (in Leadership) from University of Maryland USA (Global Campus).
Business and Social Enterprise
In 2013 Olutoyin started InVcap Corporation, an investment Advisory firm, that consults for potential Investors in Africa. Through InVcap and FOA, Olutoyin has rallied Leaders from Africa and other Continents, representing vertical sectors, to FOA Round table sessions, where they re-think and reshape their mindsets about the necessary solutions that could transform Africa and its people. FOA engages with Canadian and Diaspora businesses, with an aim to maximize opportunities for the social and economic wellbeing of the citizenry.
Several start-ups, technical partnerships, and investment groups have emerged from the FOA initiative, they are available for consulting in Canada, to advance development, and to offer technical partnerships in Africa, and ultimately to strengthen Diaspora groups to contribute to the economic development of Canada and Africa. Casa Foundation programs, such as FOA-Economic Forum, Women inspire, and the EXChange for Entrepreneurs, are funded with the support of members, board, and sponsorship of likeminded institutions, including Banks.
As part of its three-fold agenda to advance youth, women, and infrastructure development, in 2015, Olutoyin initiated the CasaFoundation International business scholarship program. CasaFoundation board embraced the scholarship initiative. CasaFoundation has since joined the hall of Sponsors at Centennial College by Sponsoring its International Students program.
By 2015, following a very successful FOA Summit, Olutoyin created a team to review the findings at the summit that Casa youths preferred a platform where they could effectively engage on small businesses, partnership opportunities, and sales- Entrepreneurs Exchange resulted from this initiative.
Olutoyin has continued to impact the lives of Youths and students through the Entrepreneurs’ Exchange platform that addresses their needs. The Exchange is a quarterly workshop session with speakers drawn from Fortune 500 and Top Companies to support the vision of young Innovators. The Exchange aimsto train 1000 youths by October 2020. At an average participation of 49 delegates per quarter, the Exchange program has now trained over 930 youths at Entrepreneurspoint.com incubator.
Olutoyin started Entrepreneurs point (EP) operations in 2018, to advance, empower, and develop Entrepreneurs by adopting a trifold approach of: mentorship, sponsorship, and partnerships. EP operates as a business incubator for Innovators, start-ups, and youths. EP incubates aspiring entrepreneurs and offers them paid shared-office space, business shadowing, mentorship, and fast-track innovation and creativity of groups.
Philanthropy and Community Engagement
Olutoyin executes all her philanthropic works through her NGO- Casa Foundation. Her Mother and Child program supports Mothers and children aged 0-5 in Africa. Olutoyin continues to serve as consultant and advisor to entrepreneurs, youths, and women in the Canadian Small Business sector. She is opportuned to speak at many Conferences in Toronto, Including Invest in Africa, TEDx, Canadian African Professionals Forum, Friends of Africa, and more to Canadians on Investment opportunities and location in the emerging markets.
She serves as an Advisor to the African Expert Network, a Washington-based Investment Advisory Group, and was recently appointed to the COVID-19 Resource Mobilisation Committee for Ekiti-State, Nigeria. In the Academia, she speaks and teaches entrepreneurship at Colleges including Humber, Ryerson, York Entrepreneurship. She serves on the Boards and Councils of Social Impact organizations across North America including: Casa Foundation, Light House, Friends of Africa, Entrepreneurspoint.com
Moreover, she has taught entrepreneurship programs at Women Entrepreneurship Hub program at Ryerson University, Women in Business, New-Comer programs, and regularly speaks on these topics to diverse communities including, TEDx Talks, She Leads Africa, and Voice America. She is regularly featured as an Advisor and Speaks at Women and Youth Conferences. Her groups and members continue to enjoy the benefits of her networks and leverage these various platforms maximally to improve entrepreneurship, innovation, business, women advancement, and economic development.
Commendations, Awards, and Recognitions
Dr. Olutoyin is the recipient of many awards. From her years in banking to date, she continues to raise the bar. She was Merit Award Winner and CEO Excellence Award Winner at the Nigerian Intercontinental Merchant Bank, and at Intercontinental Banking group, she won many Awards for Fundraising and management.
In Canada, she has received many recognitions and awards including a commendation from the Government of Ontario for Creating Friends of Africa Summit, the Diasporan Achiever Award-by Diasporan magazine of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Courage Awards by Women of Courage-Canada; African Impact Leadership Award at the African Women Forum, by Amazon NewYork, Induction into Global Leaders Forum, by Women of Influence , Canada, SuperWomen Achievers Awards in Canada, amongst others (read more on Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade)