ICMIF and UN open applications for innovation challenge in mutual insurance

The partnership will promote innovative mutual insurance schemes to better protect the most vulnerable in developing countries, particularly women

The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Insurance & Risk Finance Facility (IRFF) have opened their Call for Applications for the Insurance Innovation Challenge (IIC) Fund.

The announcement – made last Wednesday to coincide with International Women’s Day – has a focus on products meeting the needs of the most vulnerable households, with a particular focus on women, in developing economies.

Mutual and co-operative insurers can now apply for a share of USD$600,000 to develop and distribute innovative and affordable insurance products in line with this brief.

The Insurance Innovation Challenge Fund will support a minimum of four organisations over two-to-three years, providng funding and technical assistance to scale existing microinsurance programmes, reach new customers and enter markets in developing countries.

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Ulrika Modéer, UN assistant secretary-general and director of UNDP’s Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, said: “Expanding access to affordable insurance solutions specifically tailored to the needs of the poorest in developing countries is a priority to strengthen how they manage to cope through compounding crisis. When the worst happens, these communities are often the most affected and the least able to recover. Insurance is one of the key tools to avoid a downward spiral of debt and poverty.”

The IIC says that providing low-cost, inclusive insurance products contributes to sustainable economic development by providing stability and the potential for increased income for individuals and households.

“Women on low-incomes have traditionally coped with unexpected financial shocks,“ it said, “such as the loss of the family breadwinner, by selling possessions, taking children out of school so that they can earn money, or relying on neighbours and relatives for support. Without the  protection that insurance cover brings, women often resort to diverting resources that would otherwise be invested in health, education or a new business.”

Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of Co-operators, Canada, and chair of the ICMIF Foundation, added: “ICMIF is excited about this new joint endeavour with UNDP IRFF to support the world’s poorest communities and build resilience in the face of climate, health and other shocks. Mutual and co-operative insurers work with grassroots communities to co-create risk models and build education programmes that support risk mitigation and adaption.” 

This partnership will build on the ICMIF Foundation’s 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy, which launched in June 2016 and has so far reached over three million low-income households with insurance and resilience building efforts.

The closing date for applications is Friday 28 April – applicants can find out more here.

This article was amended on 24 March. An earlier version said the fund’s total value was “600,00” instead of “600,000”.