“What if you don’t make it? This question echoed by voices of people who kept dissuading her from quitting her job was what was going through her mind as she presented her resignation letter on a cloudy morning in January this year.
Eunice had had a good career with a local insurance company, rising through the ranks to the position of a national sales and relationship manager in a span of six years.
“I was earning a six-figure salary and servicing a mortgage at quite a low rate. Quitting the job meant that the mortgage goes to the market rate, and this did not augur well with my family and friends who knew too well about the uneven waves of entrepreneurship,” she says.
Nevertheless, the passion to effect changes in the insurance industry saw her take the risk. “I started my career as an insurance agent in 2009 and it wasn’t easy to convince prospective clients into buying an insurance policy. While some didn’t know about the benefits of the different policies, others didn’t trust the industry,” she says.
As an agent, it was hard making a single sale. After struggling for three months without making any sale, she resolved to change how people perceived the industry by concentrating on educating customers instead of maximising sales. “This strategy bore fruit and in 2013, I was named by Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) as among the top 20 life insurance agents in the Kenyan insurance industry. That fuelled my desire to leave the agency network,” she notes.
The company promoted her to national sales manager in Micro- insurance. However, the desire to create an insurance technology start-up that connects customers to insurance products in the market was persistent, and Eunice had to gain courage and resign.
Before quitting, she took her time to study the market and have an understanding of what exactly people wanted to know about the insurance industry, and the revolution they wished to see.
She discovered that while most people were frustrated by lack of disclosure of the necessary information about insurance policies, others wished for a one-stop shop for insurance products. Knowing that these were the services she wanted to offer, her ship was safe to propel.
Having interacted with other entrepreneurs, she also knew the importance of saving some money for a time of need. She ensured that she had saved the starting capital required and an amount that would meet her personal and the company’s expenses for one year.
“I am glad that I made this move because that has enabled me to concentrate on developing the company without having to worry about finances.”
In July 2017, she launched Bismart Insurance aggregator- a web platform where customers can compare policies from many different insurance companies. They are also able to compare prices, benefits and exclusions real time.
“Besides offering such services, we ensure that clients have all the information they need before they can commit themselves to a particular policy. We believe that the claim process starts at the point of buying; the customer needs to understand in advance what they are getting into before they buy and we give them full disclosure on what is and what is not covered by a particular policy.”
Albeit young in the market, Eunice is happy with the progress of the platform. Each day sees an average of 20 clients comparing the policies offered by more than 13 insurance companies that she has partnered with. “So far, we have about 100 customers who have bought through the platform and the number is growing fast.
“I can now comfortably pay for the company’s expenses such as rent without having to withdraw money from my savings. Today, prospective customers can compare real-time rates for car insurance, health insurance, travel insurance and can buy mobile phone insurance through Bismart.co.ke Portal. This not only saves our customers time but also money because they now have a one-stop shop. We are working on home insurance, personal accident and ultimately we shall have life and education policies real time.”
However, in pursuit of bringing convenience, transparency and trust in the insurance industry, she acknowledges that it hasn’t been all rosy. “One of the biggest challenges that we are currently facing is the fact that after a customer buys an insurance policy through the web platform, the insurance companies still require physical application forms.
“I find this time wasting. The other challenge is that some customers, who report claims through the platform want real-time responses from the insurers who at times are slow in their processes."
In retrospect, she doesn’t regret leaving employment to fulfil her relentless passion. Her dream is to wake up one day in a society that is knowledgeable about the different insurance policies and one that considers insurance as an important aspect when budgeting. She also hopes to enlighten the masses and take on board young people as affiliates.