Insurance is a product which in my opinion is a must have, however, its uptake has been very low with the Central Bank of Kenya reporting that by the end of 2020 it was 2.3%. This is mostly due to the notion that it is an expensive affair as well as that the insurance company is unlikely to pay should the risk insured against occurs.
However, there are some companies and individuals who are working to change this narrative to ensure that Kenyans can be able to enjoy the benefits of having an insurance cover. Among them is Bente Krogmann, the Chief Executive Officer of mTek Services.
We had a chat with her to find out more about mTek and how it is changing the insurance landscape;
Tell us about yourself
As a young girl growing up in Germany, I always knew I want to make a difference in the world and leave behind a legacy. My parents instilled in me determination and persistence to pursue my visions into effective actions.
I developed a passion for entrepreneurship and undertook an Arts degree with a major in Africa Business Studies where I learnt more about the importance of sustainable economic development.
After university, I moved to Tanzania where I supported various sustainable health projects in the country. My passion led me to Kenya, where I co-founded the Extreme Clean Carwash franchise with the vision of cascading my business skills to the youth.
I however felt that I needed to do more and my passion for working in projects that solved problems in simplified manners – led me to mTek. I truly believe insurance is part of welfare planning and hence it was a logical and personal choice to join mTek to help drive the mission to break the 3% barrier of insurance penetration through digital transformation.
What differentiates the product from the competition?
It is very fascinating to the growth and development of insurtech in Africa. I recently read an
article by Briter Intelligence which counts over 75 active startups operating across different
verticals. All of them very unique in their individual approach.
At mTek, we believe it is important to remember that the success of our various solutions depends on a range of initiatives, not just one.
mTek provides paperless insurance in less than five minutes – from set up, payment and receipt of insurance documentation for as low as Kshs 1000 monthly for a health cover. Furthermore, mTek users can select insurance services from various underwriters such as ICEA Lion, Sanlam , GA Insurance, Mua Insurance, Mayfair, Madison and AAR. mTek is also unique as it allows users to compare the different premiums before they make a choice. And this insurance set up is for almost anything from medical, motor to travel insurance among others – at your fingertips.
We believe in the power of innovation – whether in regard to customer experience, product or general approach to business. Innovation for us is equal to an asset and we find it important that for all team member the primary drive is the “discovery engine” – not necessarily the “delivery engine”! This reflects in our approach to move first, experiment constantly, and fail fast in order to push all our solutions forward. Besides that, we always remind ourselves as a team that a “In it to Win it” mindset is inevitable to move to the next step – day by day.
What are the challenges that you have faced since launch?
The fact that insurance is (rightfully so) is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world and the integration with legacy systems have been our primary challenges. In addition, the privacy and transparency concerns coupled with a constantly changing economic landscape create great challenges. Lastly, the low awareness of importance of insurance continues contribute to the low uptake of insurance. However, as with any business, we at mTek believe in turning challenges into opportunities.
What can you say have been the highlights since launch?
Foremost, I must say that I am grateful for the 65,000 customers who have chosen mTek as their partner for their insurance – so that they can have some peace of mind.
Secondly, our partnership with over 35 Kenyan underwriters has enabled us to provide our customers a wide range of choice for their insurance needs. In 2019, we started with just motor insurance but now we are able to provide customers with more products under the general, but also life insurance scope.
We have also been able to launch our first ‘white label’ projects, by assisting various industry player (such as banks, underwriter etc.) on their digital strategy of insurance products.
However, our greatest highlights and satisfaction comes from the stories of our customers.
A lady customer told us how mTek provided her with a simplified medical insurance cover which helped her settle her antenatal, maternity and post-natal care. Now we have a happy mother who can access to quality health care for her baby and herself.
A taxi driver narrated to us how he had to stop his business since he could not afford comprehensive motor insurance . However, when mTek provided him with monthly payment plan he is back on the road, doing what he loves while providing for his family.
What would you say about technology and women in the sub-Saharan Africa?
Technology provides unprecedented opportunities that can help break barriers and progressive development to those who are likely to be left behind – such as women.
While much has been done to create equal opportunities for women through our inspirational role models, day-to-day reality and data shows that there is still much more to be done. There is so much more to be done to provide and enhance opportunities for women in the technology sector through enhanced professional capacity and mentorship.
It is important that we work to upscale the successful stories in technology showing what worked while equipping women the necessary resources to succeed.
Unfortunately, the joke that “Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good” may not be totally off the mark in the workplace. I strongly believe, that as women (not only in technology) we need to live sisterhood (only together we can fix the system) and we need to be brave enough to be visible. While this is easier said than done, I believe it is very possible to any woman or young girl with a passion for technology.
When I became a mother last year, many asked me how I would balance my role as mTek’s CEO and being a mother – and my husband was never confronted such questions. Instead of getting confused by the same, I told myself “When they say, you can’t do it, do it twice and take pics”… and here we are!
Moving forward, what can Kenyans expect from mTek?
Kenyans should expect more innovation from mTek as we look into more localized insurance products. In addition, they can expect continued exemplary personalized customer services with full transparency. Lastly, they should expect new and affordable paperless products – that will provide them with security and peace of mind.