National Insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative Limited celebrates its 30th anniversary

National Cooperative Insurance VimoSEWA Ltd.

National insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative Ltd. lobbies for greater penetration of microinsurance for informal workers through policy reforms

NEW DELHI / BOMBAI, 12th October 2022 (GPN): VimoSEWA, the microinsurance arm of the Self-Employed Women’s Association, SEWA, celebrated its 30th anniversary by organizing a national workshop in New Delhi, aiming to increase the penetration of microinsurance for low-income families through policy reforms. Registered as National Insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative Limited since 2009, it is the first all-female insurance cooperative in India, in which women are the owners, policyholders and managers. Over the past 30 years, VimoSEWA has issued 10 lakh policies for informal workers and Rs 26 Crores of concrete economic support in the form of claims has been put in the hands of women and their family members.

Using its three decades of experience in microinsurance, VimoSEWA has engaged in dialogue with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to find ways to expand miroinsurance coverage to low income families across India.

Mirai Chatterjee, Founder of VimoSEWA and Manager of SEWA’s Social Security Team, chaired the Committee on the Autonomous Microinsurance Company set up by IRDAI for this purpose. Other members of the committee included Dr. Nachiket Mor, former chairman of the Reserve Bank of India’s committee responsible for recommending the expansion of microfinance in India through the licensing of small banks. Dr. Nachiket Mor explained that the same could easily apply to the insurance sector, thereby reaching hitherto unreached citizens.

This workshop hopes to advance the dialogue with IRDAI and the Indian government, and to push for the implementation of the recommendations made by the IRDAI committee, in particular the reduction of the capital required for the granting of licenses. a minimum of Rs 100 Crores to a maximum of Rs 20 Crores, based on global experience of extending microinsurance to low-income families. Significant legal changes will need to be made and are currently being considered by IRDAI and the Indian government.

The workshop began with a panel of female grassroots leaders committed to insurance education and policy marketing for women like them. Asha Ajmeri, President of VimoSEWA cooperative, shared her experiences: “I am a garment worker. I had no idea what insurance was. Thanks to the insurance education provided by VimoSEWA, I not only understood the importance of insurance for autonomy, but I also started explaining it to other workers like me. I am now a Vimo Aagewan Insurance Promoter of VimoSEWA. I issue policies worth Rs 20 lakh every year for women. Rekha Surve, an insurance promoter from Madhya Pradesh, Geeta Mahour a member of Delhi Savings and Credit Cooperative and Sunitadevi a labourer, who actually obtained his request from VimoSEWA, also spoke on this occasion.

Speaking at the workshop, Mirai Chatterjee, Director, SEWA Social Security and Founding Board Member, VimoSEWA said, “VimoSEWA’s experience shows that not only are women insurable, but through them the whole family gets some basic security. We are now reaching thousands of women across the country with financial and social protection. It was a journey full of lessons about what works to reach the poor, and especially the hardworking women in our country. We have learned that microinsurance is essential for women’s economic empowerment and self-reliance. However, we need appropriate laws and policies for microinsurance to grow and spread across the country.

Jayshreeben Vyas, Managing Director, SEWA Bank, explained that insurance is an essential part of financial inclusion and must be integrated into all financial services for women. She mentioned the importance of financial literacy and insurance education, and at all stages of a woman’s life cycle.

Other civil society participants engaged in microinsurance like PRADAN, Aga Khan Foundation, Annapurna Pariwar, TRIF (Transforming Rural India) also discussed what is achievable at the grassroots to improve the reach of financial protection and social. Deliberations were held on how to develop an environment for microinsurance entities to reach the last mile with better products and services. The role of mutuals was also underlined. The role of civil society organizations in partnering with insurers and providing access to microinsurance for low-income families was part of the political discourse.

Ruchi Agarwal, CEO, VimoSEWA cooperative, stressed the importance of digitization in the spread of microinsurance. She said, “VimoSEWA is expanding its reach and services using digital technology. She developed an app and many of her operations are now online. Women have adapted well to digital technology. This happened during the COVID-19 pandemic and we are building on the lessons learned to digitize further.

Several senior officials in the insurance industry, including TR Mendiratta, former Director of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), and Board Member of VimoSEWA and Munish Bhardwaj, Country Head RRB, Micro Insurance, India First Life Insurance have recommended the need to enable policies to extend microinsurance to all Indian citizens. Ends

Virginia S. Braud