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The women leading Hollard Botswana


The HOLLARD Botswana Leadership team of Jane Tselayakgosi and Lydia Andries epitomise both the shift happening in the Botswana insurance industry and the growth of business opportunities in the country.

As dynamic businesswomen, they have embraced the challenge of building a company that is completely Botswana-powered in a market dominated by subsidiaries of South African insurance companies. As mothers, they know the hardships and sacrifices that come with creating a work-home balance.

Established in May 2005 with an initial capital of P10 million, Hollard Insurance Botswana is powered solely by Botswana experts in personal and business insurance. This strong local knowledge allows Hollard to develop insurance solutions that are Botswana-specific.

Tselayakgosi developed an interest in the insurance sector during an internship in her university holidays. In those days, insurance was not an environment that was a popular career choice among graduates, with banking, auditing and accounting representing more obvious choices for B.Comm graduates. However, Jane’s intern experience piqued her interest sufficiently to encourage her to pursue "something different".

She originally joined a short-term insurance company In Botswana and, in progressing through the ranks, learnt about Hollard "by accident" when it was considering purchasing her employer.

"I was fascinated by the fact that this was one of the largest companies in South Africa and yet it was privately owned. I liked their track record and their way of doing business and was intrigued by their culture, because local insurance companies were traditionally corporate and rigid – and I was at a point in my life when I was looking to move away from accounting and engage in something completely new," she says.

Hence, when Hollard failed in their bid to purchase her employer while retaining an interest in establishing an operation in Botswana, Tselayakgosi's dream to lead a business became a real opportunity. She quit her job in December 2004 and began the process of applying for a license and establishing Hollard Insurance Botswana.

Born and educated in Botswana, Tselayakgosi is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of the UK. She began her insurance career in 1990 of Botswana Insurance Company.  She moved through the rank to general manager finance until leaving in 2004 to found Hollard Botswana as MD.

She describes her role at Hollard as being both operational and strategic, with her responsibilities extending to the daily operational performance of the business, via a senior management team accountable for specific areas of the operation.

Lydia Andries has nearly 20 years’ experience in the financial services sector, having started her insurance career in an administrative role, before pursuing an actuarial degree. She grew up in the mining town of Jwaneng where she lived until moving to Gaborone to launch her financial services career. She then promptly relocated to the UK to study. In June this year, she joined Hollard Life Botswana specifically to create a strategy that could build and grow the business and ensure its sustainability.

"This means driving both innovation and growth, as well as ensuring disciplined execution in the delivery of results. In the next few years Hollard Life will be expanding its service reach without losing focus on revenue generation and profitability," Andries says.

Andries was attracted to the Hollard culture, one in which everyone was equal, but the boundaries were respected. It was an environment where individuals were free to share ideas irrespective of seniority, while at the same time providing a platform for personal growth.

Both women also have to juggle a family life and children. Andries has been married to Obusitswe Andries for 17 years and is mother to two sons and two daughters and Tselayakgosi is mother to a daughter and a son.

"My children inspire me to become a better person. Seeing their innocent faces smiling at me and admiring me is priceless – they motivate me to seek out the best life has to offer and pursue a rewarding career to build a strong foundation for their lives," Andries says.

Motivation is also a strong theme in Tselayakgosi’s life. “I am motivated by success in whatever goals I’ve set myself personally and professionally. Specifically, I am driven by challenging myself to learn and master new things – and in mentoring young people, particularly women. I can share my experiences and lessons with the hope this will help them avoid the mistakes we often make earlier in our careers and I love seeing people grow and achieve their goals," she says.

Comparing the insurance landscapes in South Africa and Botswana, both women agree that the Botswana environment is highly competitive, as is the case in South Africa. New entrants are streaming into the broker-driven market. As with South Africa, increasing regulation is also an issue –while the regulatory environment in Botswana is not as stringent as in South Africa and legislation is enacted at a slightly lesser pace, the trends are similar.

But the market also faces significant challenges specific to Botswana – low education levels regarding insurance and its low perceived value mean that penetration rates are not as high as they should be.

"Botswana has a very low insurance market penetration – estimated at just 2% for life insurance – and that statistic highlights the significant opportunities for future growth. Understanding how best to optimise the balance between opportunities and risks within the sector is a significant challenge executives face today," Andries says.

Andries also believes that insurance companies have traditionally controlled the market, but that the recent promotion of banks as a key sales channel offered fresh opportunities for companies to gain new footholds.

"In emerging economies like Botswana, bancassurance – a partnership that allows banks to sell insurance products – has become critically important for insurance companies. Other innovative channels are also taking hold; retail distribution channels have raised their share of insurance sales and insurers are also using affinity groups like utility companies to sell policies. This shifting insurance landscape is exciting, presenting significant growth opportunities especially for new market entrants like ourselves," she says.

Tselayakgosi’s vision is for Hollard to be placed amongst the top 3 insurance companies in the market and to continue being at the forefront in providing consumers with affordable and relevant insurance solutions. "I also want Hollard to have the best team and be the number one company that professionals want to work for," she says.

As a parting shot, Tselayakgosi mentions that when she initially joined the industry, it was one dominated by men, but today there is an equal gender split among people holding senior and leadership positions. This will come as no surprise to anyone who encounters Tselayakgosi and, Andries – it seems that when it comes to female power, Hollard has plugged into a very rich vein of talent.

HOLLARD INSURANCE

As South Africa's largest privately-owned insurance group, the Hollard Insurance Group includes the Hollard Insurance Company and Hollard Life Assurance Company. Established in 1980, the Group provides short-term and life insurance as well as investment products to a diverse customer base including individual consumers, commercial entities and corporate clients. It ranks among a growing number of companies advocating an inclusive growth model, measuring its social dividends aside its shareholder contributions.

Since inception, partnership has been at the heart of its business model, with the group today boasting over 100 ventures across the insurance value chain. Each one demonstrates the Hollard belief that there is always a better way.
Headquartered in the historic Villa Arcadia in Parktown, Johannesburg, the group embraces 6 million policy holders in 10 countries on four continents. Hollard employs almost 3000 people across the globe and posted R15.3bn in premium income in the year to June 2014.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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