Support to SMEs at the heart of African insurer’s new initiatives

ATI announces plans that will help counter the negative impacts of the credit crunch in Africa & releases First Quarter results

smesNAIROBI, 7 July, 2010 - "The financial crisis may have abated but the business people who run small and medium sized companies in our region are still reeling from the after shocks, having limited to no access to credit," noted George Otieno the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI).

Mr. Otieno made these remarks during a press conference with Stewart Kinloch, Chief Underwriting Officer, where they announced recent initiatives aimed at meeting the region's demand for solutions that will ease the effects of the credit crunch. These solutions may include a product created in partnership with local banks. This product could help Small and Medium Sized companies (SMEs) access financing without collateral at recognized financial institutions.

"Our first quarter results indicate an uptick in demand specifically from SMEs with an enquiry pipeline from seven countries worth $1.6 billion in only the first three months of the year," commented Mr. Kinloch.

During the First Quarter of 2010, ATI achieved record-breaking results over the same quarter in 2009:

A 100 percent increase in Net Underwriting Income to $707,000
an 84 percent increase in Net Earned Premium to $538,000
a 70 percent increase in its Gross Exposure to over $292 Million
an increase in the number of policies written to 27, nearly half of the total amount of policies written in all of 2009

Mr. Kinloch announced new initiatives to shore up internal capacity to help ATI meet its clients' demands. The first, an electronic underwriting system targeted for implementation by year end, will halve the turn around time to underwrite policies.

ATI is also launching a study to determine its developmental impact on trade and investment flows into Africa since it launched in 2001. The study, to be released in 2011, will also be used to determine the market gaps in a post-financial crisis environment as well as to identify new insurance products designed to fill identified gaps.

With Benin, Gabon and Ghana now confirmed into membership, ATI expects to start underwriting deals in West Africa by the end of 2010. The Agency will also consider opening a regional office to facilitate these new transactions.

"The region faces numerous challenges from political uncertainty to trade issues. Ultimately, I believe these challenges present an opportunity for Africa and as Africa's institution, ATI is here to support the continent in this important growth period," commented Mr. Otieno. 

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