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Bramerlife to rebrand

Bramerlife Chief Executive Officer, Regina Sikalesele-Vaka

The newest life insurer in the country, Bramerlife, will soon shed any vestiges of its association with its former parent company, when it rebrands.


Under new ownership of the Botswana Public Officer’s Pension Fund, Bramerlife Chief Executive Officer, Regina Sikalesele-Vaka says the company is now owned by Batswana and brings an added advantage of responding to local clients quickly without having to seek permission from foreign based parent companies.


Bramer Life Botswana was launched in June 2014 after the Mauritian based British American Investment Corporation (BAIC) invested P40 million for an 80 per cent stake in the company with citizen investors holding the remaining 20 per cent.


Nine months after the glitzy launch, the insurance firm was rocked by a ‘ponzi scheme’ scandal that hit its sister company, Bramer Banking Corporation Limited in Mauritius, tarnishing Bramer Life Botswana in the process. The scandal was said to entail a large-scale scam in the shape of a ponzi scheme estimated at over P6.4 billion.



Following the revelations, NBFIRA (Non Bank financial Institutions Regulatory Authority) appointed Nigel Dixon-Warren of KPMG as a statutory manager in April for Bramer Life Botswana.


Sikalesele-Vaka, is upbeat about making Bramerlife the best financial services company in five years time. “We had our scandal but we are a new company now and we have new shareholders in BPOPF; the company is now owned by Batswana,” she said. “With some marketing and rebranding, we will shake off the scandal.”


Botswana Opportunity Partnership (BOP), a joint venture between Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) and Capital Management Botswana (CMB), now owns 40 percent of Bramer Life Botswana under the new ownership structure.

THE CHALLENGES

According to Sikalesele-Vaka, the local insurance sector, which has become very competitive in the last five years, is plagued by, among other issues, fraud, especially perpetrated by brokers, who have even gone to the extent of claiming death benefits for clients who are still alive.

However, she said that the recently passed Insurance Industry Act is more prescriptive in the way that of client-insurer relations, as well as being more punitive in cases of breaches of the law.


She said there is competition in the industry, with many underwriters entering the insurance space and putting pressure with pricing.


On the issue of client perceptions, she said that insurance, particularly life is not a tangible good and the client often feels that they are paying for nothing, whereas they appreciate the peace of mind mostly when an incident happens that the insurance pays out a claim.

With vehicle insurance, people will usually take out a policy because the banks require it, said Sikalesele-Vaka, comparing long and short term life insurance. Another challenge that the industry has to deal with is the exclusion of the ordinary person from insurance cover.


The traditional way of doing insurance, with brokers, underwriters and clients on the other end, has been greatly reshaped by the arrival of the bancassurance business model, a distribution channel for both insurance and banking products, offered at one selling point. While this is greatly convenient for the consumer and profitable for the banks and partner insurers, it has had the effect of pushing out the broker from the scene.


“The two industries (banking and insurance) are from two extremes; often the customer does not even know why they are taking out an insurance policy when they are taking a loan but it is a business evolution and only the consumer can tackle that over time, maybe in the next five years,”she said.

THE SERIAL CORPORATE

Sikalesele-Vaka loves a good challenge. “I love turning small things big,” she told BusinessPost. A lawyer by training, Sikalesele-Vaka left the chambers to become a business leader when she joined the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) in 1998, growing its asset base up to about P750 million and turning it into an exemplar of good governance for even similar organisations in the southern African region.

She then moved to Botswana Life and spearheaded its re-engineering, from 2010 to 2014, also becoming the head of the Group. In 2014, she was at the helm of the committee that organised the African Youth Games, with “very little time and a shoestring budget”.


Quizzed on her views regarding powerful women and their contribution to the development of other women, in the context of sentiments expressed by leader of opposition in parliament, Duma Boko, last week, that women generally grow powerful and make it difficult for other women to become successful, she said that it was actually quite true looking at the situation on the ground.


For her part, Sikalesele -Vaka, said she believes she has always made it a point to empower women, citing various examples of women who she has mentored and encouraged to climb the corporate ladder.


Sikalesele -Vaka relishes the thought of going into lecturing at university level, to impart the knowledge and experiences that she has garnered over the years to future corporate leaders. Would she go into politics? Every career has its people, she says, adding that she does not have the temperament for house to house campaigns, wheeling and dealing and being the people’s person, being the introvert that she is.


vmatumo@weekendpost.co.bw

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Business

Food prices continue to rise, but at a slower rate

28th November 2022

Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

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Business

Still doing business the old way?

18th November 2022

It’s time to get business done better with MTN Business Botswana’s ICT Solutions.

Running a digital businessMTN Business Solutions Botswana, popularly known as MTN Business is an Internet Service Provider. We are a subsidiary of MTN Group Limited, a multinational telecommunications Group headquartered in South Africa, which operates in 19 markets across Africa and the Middle East.

More and more, clients are looking for ways to keep their staff productive in a dynamically changing business environment. Whether your people are working from home, the office or abroad, there is a growing recognition that digitising your operations can offer unprecedented commercial value in flexibility, productivity and growth. This new, digital reality means that it is more important than ever to stay agile – if there is anything that can slow a business down, it is being burdened by othatld technology.

Having made substantial investments in fibre technology, high-speed terrestrial and undersea networks and new frequency spectrum across the markets wherein it operates, MTN is perfectly positioned to respond to this shift in the market.

A few years ago, MTN also made the decision to build an IP capable radio network for its mobile services, giving its core network the ability to seamlessly integrate with enterprise IP networks. The mobile towers deliver services to enterprise clients absolutely anywhere it has a network, shortening the last mile and removing complexity and cost.

Now there is increasing demand from clients to connect their remote sites in all areas, including rural and semi- rural. MTN has assisted clients with overcoming this connectivity hurdle, enabling their staff to get the job done wherever they are.
MTN’s evolution

For MTN, the focus has shifted from just being a core telecommunications services provider, towards also becoming a technology solutions provider. The service offering now also includes Unified Communications, Data Hosting and Cloud Solutions, Security-As-A-Service and Managed Network Services. The scope has changed to being client and industry specific, so the requirements and service portfolio vary from one client to the next. The expectation is that a company like MTN must respond to these challenges, helping clients to get business done better as they shift from old to new technologies.

As many businesses continue to grapple with a digitally dynamic world, they face new challenges that have to be solved. This environment will benefit those that are more digitally enabled and agile. It is a brave new world that will favour online over on-site, wireless over wired and fluid over formulaic. Businesses will seek out partners and suppliers that are every bit as flexible and forward-looking as they are.
Ultimately, clients need partners like MTN Business that will invest in infrastructure, deliver the services they require, have market credibility, are financially sound and have a long-term commitment to their market presence.

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Business

BIE to vitalize the Dignity of Engineers

9th November 2022

Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in  which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.

The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.

Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.

“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.

He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.

Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.

“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.

He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.

He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc

“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran

Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.

“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.

Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that  the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.

“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.

He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.

“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams

He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .

Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution  said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.

“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.

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