Local is lucrative as Hollard Namibia claims 20% market share in a decade

11 November 2013 Johan Barnard, Hollard

Ten short years. An impressive 20% market share, built from scratch. This sums up the stellar business success of Hollard Insurance Namibia, which is fast becoming Namibians’ short-term insurer of choice.

The past decade has seen the company grow exponentially, to a current turnover of more than N$750million per annum in gross premium income from its Namibian and Zambian operations. Average premium income growth has exceeded 31% per year, with Namibia and Zambia now boasting N$600-million in assets.

The company’s staff complement has grown similarly, from six people in the Windhoek office to 125 employees in 12 offices, across 10 towns and two countries.

In the past five years the short-term insurance business has grown at a rate of more than 19% per annum, and now has representation in eight Namibian towns. The life insurance company was founded in 2009 and currently contributes nearly 25% of total premium income in Namibia; a life company was established in Zambia in December 2012, following the opening of the short-term company in 2010.

The Zambian operations are wholly owned by Hollard Insurance Namibia.

The company has paid more than N$280-million in taxes, levies and fees over the 10 years of its existence, in line with its commitment to being a sound corporate citizen. The past decade has also seen Hollard Insurance Namibia develop local skills, from administrative to managerial and key decision-making positions.

A critical part of Hollard Insurance Namibia’s success, , is its specifically Namibian pedigree, says Hollard Namibia CEO Johan Barnard

"Hollard Insurance Namibia was established with a key pillar being that we would be our own entity – an insurance company with a local Namibian flavour. That meant employing local people and finding local solutions to our clients' insurance issues, but still having the capacity to leverage off the experience and expertise of our South African shareholders.

"It is a model that offers clients the opportunity to choose insurance that relates to their needs, while also allowing us to use our entrepreneurial skills and build a local Namibian company. This innovation has seen Hollard Insurance Namibia sourcing goods and services from local suppliers even if that comes at a small premium, because supporting local business is vital," Barnard says.

Hollard's foray into Namibia followed on the group's successful venture into Mozambique, where the local operation had been able to fund its own new life licence only four years after being established. The Namibian venture saw the company adapt the business model to suit local conditions, taking into account the population density and distances between towns.

A branch network has ensured better service delivery in the various regions, but this represented a deviation from Hollard’s South African model, which entailed operating on a centralised basis. The company’s eight regional branches make it the most broadly represented short-term insurer in Namibia.

Barnard says that his team is "passionately Namibian" and dedicated to decision-making in the interests of their country, is a game-changer for Hollard Insurance Namibia.

"Everyone is committed to being good corporate citizens; paying the required taxes and levies in Namibia; employing local people and being active in community work. All this would be difficult if you had a foreign head office, trying to extract as much value as it could," he says.

One community initiative of which Hollard Insurance Namibia is particularly proud is the Amos Meerkat School project – a rural farm school scheme that trains illiterate and semi-literate mothers to teach farmworkers' children to become school-ready. Barnard says that in the first year 48 teachers attended the training, and 40 schools were established on farms by a 10-women strong team of dedicated past teachers.

Other social investments have included school projects, school sports and church group initiatives. Hollard Insurance Namibia also sponsored the visit of the Kaizer Chiefs soccer team to Namibia, and now partners with Namibian premier league clubs. The company also participates in traditional authority events.

Looking ahead to the company’s second decade, Barnard says the company will not stop being a catalyst for "positive and enduring change" in Namibia; it will not stop building and developing its team; it will not compromise its relationships because "Hollard is about more than just getting things done"; and most importantly, it will not compromise its risk management practices, its underwriting standards and its passion for being Namibia's best insurer.

"Crucially, management will not allow outdated business practices to hold back the company, meaning Hollard Insurance Namibia will continue challenging the status quo and searching for better ways to do business. In a nutshell, that means not compromising our Hollard and personal values," he says.

Hollard Group CEO Nic Kohler echoes those sentiments in viewing the road ahead. Quoting German-born physicist Albert Einstein, Kohler calls on Hollard Insurance Namibia to "strive not to be a success, but to be of value".

"In marking the 10-year milestone, we are celebrating what happens when you consistently and honestly strive to be of value for 10 years – you achieve incredible success," Kohler says.

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