9 December 2012

Tanzania: 45 Years of Setting Standards in Insurance

Since independence, Tanzania has been faced with very many challenges in various sectors, but because of its fighting spirit, it has also achieved success in so many areas.

There are individuals who have been on the forefront of making changes in the societies they live in, and records indicate that many have succeeded where others have failed. One such individual is Casmir Bigacho Ndege, a pioneer and a go getter, a legend in insurance marketing and one of the notable figures in the development of life insurance in Tanzania.

Born on March 3rd 1945 in Sumbawanga, Southern Tanzania, Ndege has risen to become an insurance salesman, a politician, a philanthropist, a catholic religion teacher, a husband and a father.

In his dapper outfit and armed with his certificates looking for a job, he was mistaken for a prospective client by a salesman working for American Life Insurance Company. When he was taken to the manager, they found out that the young smartly dressed man was searching for a job, and was rightly recruited as a salesman, and within a short time became the top salesman in the company.

Having done a commendable job on his early career days, combined with his colorful background, American Life Insurance Company sent him to Mwanza as a salesman. By that time he had written a number of policies, and by 1967, the government nationalization led to the formation of the National Insurance Corporation, and Ndege saw the opportunity and organized himself into a company.

Ndege Insurance Agency was duly formed, and soon the company grew from a one man operation into a wellknown Insurance agency in Mwanza. Ndege is credited as being among the first African insurance agents in Tanzania, and by 1985 with a proven track record and great sales the company was changed from a mere insurance agency to an insurance consultancy.

Recently, the company celebrated its 45th birthday, and it was pomp and color, as the staff and management of the company also went ahead and remembered the life and times of the founder, Casmir Bigacho Ndege. His son, Dr Sebastian Bigacho Ndege, took the helm of the insurance company in 2006 after the demise of Ndege senior in 2001, and rescued it from the brink of liquidation.

"By then I was still in medical school pursuing my degree. The events and bad news about the company were disturbing to me. We were being asked to sell some of family properties in order to cover for company debts and outstanding premiums. We did consent to selling of few of our properties but still the problems were not entirely solved, Says Sebastian Ndege.

He says that on August 2006, he received a phone call from one of the employees, who warned him that the company is to be liquidated, that he must take bold measures to rescue it. He immediately called for a family meeting and they discussed the matter and agreed that Sebastian Ndege must take over the company immediately and lead.

With support from few staff members who remained faithful to the company, friends and colleagues, he managed to secure payment agreements with Insurers, settled bills with Tanesco, Dawasco and made sure all staff members enter a new contract of service with promise to pay over dues in a few months and pay rises after that.

"In three months half of the debts were paid off and by the end of the year, all debts, outstanding balances were cleared, staff salaries raised and we recorded commissions' profits in the first year of our operation" he says. The company currently serves the insurance needs of over 2,000 individuals and families as well as over 45 different business sectors/ companies.

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