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Q&A: Winnie Badiah

Winnie Badiah is an actuarial consultant from Kenya working at BC Risk, Nairobi

07 JULY 2016 | BY WINNIE BADIAH 


Winnie Badiah
Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, I am an actuarial consultant at BC Risk Services specialising in microinsurance and the founder of GrassRoots Microinsurance, which seeks to provide appropriate inclusive insurance services digitally.

I’m a natural athlete (100m races) and despite my height, whenever I have some free time, I’m an avid basketball player.

I enjoy globetrotting and learning about different cultures as well.

Which actuarial field(s) do you specialise in?
Risk management and microinsurance.

Why did you decide to study or work in this specific field?
Having graduated with an MSc Actuarial Management from Heriot-Watt University (UK), and owing to my past experiences, I developed my passion for risk management with a focus on protection for the underserved market.

Not only are there very limited innovations in the insurance industry but also many challenges in the growth of microinsurance, in spite of the intense need.

Which actuarial society are you a member of?
The Actuarial Society of Kenya (TASK) and also the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Which actuarial fields are most dominant in your country, and why?
The life Insurance industry has been the most dominant over the years in Kenya, despite over 60% premium income from the non-life sector. There will, however, be a need for more actuaries in the non-life sector as the risk-based supervision measures come into force in June 2016.

Tell us a bit about the industry or market that you work in?
I serve in areas such as delivering risk assessment and management, strategic consulting and resource management, training and capacity building for various clients and product development for the mass market.

What kind of support do students get in your company, and elsewhere in the market?
There is professional development in terms of industry talks and TASK Forums for discussions on developments in the actuarial fields.

Are you involved in any actuarial activities outside of your day job?
I recently joined the Microinsurance Working Party under TASK.

Could you tell us about an interesting project you have worked on?
Working as a software developer I am currently testing the beta version of our microinsurance platform to provide insurance solutions through various digital channels.

What do you believe are the social and economic drivers for actuarial work in your region?
The industry is shifting to improved risk-based supervision (RBS) measures – higher capital requirements – to reflect best practice in the industry globally, to increase both consumer protection and regulatory oversight.

A number of African countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia are spearheading the growth of microinsurance through progress in the implementation of regulations to allow prepared players to operate as solely proficient microinsurers.

Since there’s great potential for the insurance market to grow as penetration is still low, we look forward to the implementation of the Microinsurance Regulations in Kenya as well, which will see further uptake of insurance.

Kenya is experiencing growth in the real estate, the building of the standard gauge railway line, and growing oil and gas sector and  investors will seek to take advantage of these markets. Actuaries will have to gear up for this, since investors will need insurance.

I also foresee use of data analytics to offer more insights on modelling and claims management in future particularly in non-life fields, which are more prone to malpractice and fraud.

What is the reputation of actuaries and the professional body in your country? What kind of activities does the professional body engage in to promote the profession and its actuaries?
The actuarial profession is at its nascent stages, not only in Kenya but within the majority of African countries. Many people have either not heard of actuaries, or don’t know or understand what exactly the work of an actuary entails. TASK is doing a great job hosting annual actuarial conventions to promote the profession in Kenya.

How do you see the role of an actuary evolving in the future – can you see actuaries working outside their traditional sectors?

We will certainly see more actuaries and actuarial trainees joining the non-traditional fields such as risk management and consulting for other industries.

I also anticipate that we will have more involvement in the microinsurance space, carrying out primary research and development in an attempt to understand this unique market using a bottom-up-approach, so as to innovate appropriate products for the financially underserved market.

How often and in what way do you use social media? How does it help your professional work?
I mainly use social media, particularly Twitter and LinkedIn to share news about goings-on in the global insurance industry. These platforms can further be used to increase awareness of the actuarial profession to our networks, considering very few understand who an actuary is, and what exactly our work involves.

What have been the influences that shaped your career decisions to date?
I was introduced to the actuarial profession back in high school during a career talk from our alumnae. I enjoyed maths and it has been the perfect choice to apply my acquired technical skills in pursuing an actuarial degree.

Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?
In addition to working towards my CERA qualification, I am a budding entrepreneur. I am the founder of GrassRoots Microinsurance, which I have formed to provide affordable and accessible digital insurance services, in order to make insurance cheaper, more transparent and cost effective for prospective microinsurers.

I’m keen to minimise the uninsured and underinsured market gap in Sub-Saharan Africa at the very least. I will also venture into impact investment as an angel investor in the longer term, for social impact not only through insurance but in other industries as well.

Have you ever thought of moving abroad? If so, where would you move to? Would you seek a similar or different role?
I would love to go to Asia; China, India and The Philippines as they are the leading markets in microinsurance. The first-hand experience I would get in these countries would expose me to different models, which can be tailored for the African market.

I am also eager to expand my network and possibly form new partnerships to implement various microinsurance models in Africa.

What do you say when asked, “What is an actuary”?
A professional who goes through intense education and experience applying statistical methods to assess risk, mainly in insurance and financial industries.

How will you celebrate the day you qualify?
I will definitely be making a donation to my church when I qualify, then do something random that I’ll probably think about then.