5 August, 2016
Sonia Notani, founder member and Chief Strategy Officer at IndiaFirst, holds a MBA degree from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies after pursuing her graduation in Economics from St. Xavier's College, India.
Sonia is a voracious reader with a knack for writing and blogging. A self-confessed foodie, Sonia lives in Mumbai with her son and husband.
IndiaFirst is one of the youngest life insurance companies in India and has actually achieved significant success and growth in its short journey of six and a half years. We collected total premiums of over INR 1,900 crore* in the last fiscal year and we are looking at ambitious but steady growth over the next four to five years. IndiaFirst has the advantage of having strong promoters in the Bank of Baroda, Legal and General and Andhra Bank, where the two banks are also our distribution partners.
As a late entrant into the market, it was essential to establish a sound foundation and start acquiring scale. This was achieved through a focus on pension fund business and mass market protection coverage, which resulted in the following:
(*For those in the west who aren’t so familiar with Indian numerology, a crore is 10 million and a lakh is 100,000. £1 sterling = 88 Indian rupees on 1 August 2016.)
For insurance to reach the masses, India needs a financial inclusion model that is fair, transparent, cost effective, regulated and which leverages existing infrastructure. The Insurance industry needs to make insurance not only affordable, but also accessible and attractive for the mass market. We at IndiaFirst Life Insurance have embarked on a journey to provide fairly priced, simple, comprehensive and efficiently serviced insurance for the mass market.
IndiaFirst is one of the insurance companies that participate actively in the financial inclusion scheme promoted by the government of India. PMJJBY is a bank account which is linked to group term assurance cover, with a fixed premium of INR 330 and cover of INR 200,000. IndiaFirst offers this scheme through our banks, using technology that has a completely integrated and low cost distribution model. Nearly 25 lakh lives were insured under this scheme in one full year, since its launch in June 2015.
IndiaFirst Life is proud to wear the mantle of inclusive development by entering into an agreement for distribution of its products through village level entrepreneurs (VLEs). The distribution process is completely seamless due to the amalgamation of the technology portals of both partners. IndiaFirst Life handholds these village-level entrepreneurs and hones the skills of rural India through the CSC movement, to play a crucial role in improving social and financial development.
As part of IndiaFirst’s micro and mass market insurance strategy, IndiaFirst recently tied up with ‘IFMR Rural Channels’, to distribute our life insurance policies in remote rural districts in India. We will offer life insurance policies through Kshetriya Gramin Financial Services (KGFS), in four centres serving five districts across Tamil Nadu, in India.
There are six units which cater to a clearly defined geographical area spread over a contiguous location with a population of over five million. These units have largely locally hired staff that understand the needs of the community, and speak the local dialect.
The geographic focus of the model makes sure that uniqueness of each service area is captured. This helps in getting better knowledge of the customer and the local economy, which in turn helps to provide better products for customers.
To support an initiative to provide health services to needy, poor and destitute elderly at their doorstep, earlier this year, IndiaFirst partnered with Legal & General’s UK team to fund a Mobile Medicare Unit (MMU), in Mumbai. This MMU provided nearly 1,100 patients with access to free medicines and basic healthcare. This initiative has led to 8,500 treatments, in the last six months.
A patronage of nearly INR 24 Lakh was given to ‘HelpAge India’, a secular, apolitical, non-profit and non-government organisation working to provide care to disadvantaged older people.
We provided 4,500 diabetes patients, 4,000 hypertension patients and more than 2,500 joint pain patients with the benefits of this MMU van in 34 locations in Mumbai city.
The mobile medical unit also provided health services to many hundreds of beneficiaries, helping them to live a healthy life. It also runs special health camps and provides medical and hygiene counselling to families.
The IndiaFirst family constantly strives to channel the efforts of employees, agents and distributors into community development programs.
During the festive season, we as Indians spread smiles through our gifts. By arranging for NGOs to set up stalls in IndiaFirst’s premises, we ensured that our employees’ own celebrations were enhanced with reasonably priced gifts, which also helped other organisations to fulfil their CSR responsibilities.
Not just spreading cheer to their loved ones, our employees’ generously purchase gift articles for themselves and their families but also ensure a donation in the form of clothes, bags, toys, books, newspapers etc. for the welfare of the destitute and needy.
CSR at IndiaFirst is a continuous investment that ensures the involvement of all, thus percolating a sense of pride not just for the organisation, but to all associated with the company.
As the saying goes, ‘charity begins at home’. IndiaFirst focuses on supporting and giving back to society, be it through monetary benefits or just lending a helping hand.