Salah Mousa Mohamed (SM), Managing Director of Shiekan Insurance and Reinsurance Co Ltd, tells how his company aims to become the world’s leading provider of takaful, the Sharia-compliant insurance products
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LE: Can you tell us about Shiekan’s position in the Sudanese market and its competitive advantages?
SM: Shiekan Insurance & Reinsurance, which was established in 1983, is the largest takaful operator in Sudan, with a market share of almost 50%. Shiekan offers cooperative insurance, a modality that mandates the distribution to policyholders of the surplus generated by insurance operations. This is one of several factors that set this type of insurance apart from the other, more conventional, models employed by the insurance industry. Shiekan Insurance & Reinsurance aims to be the world’s foremost provider of Sharia-compliant takaful products and services. The company’s mission is to provide first-class, innovative takaful insurance to its customers. The Corporate Compliance and Sharia Audit departments established by Shiekan are the first, and to date the only, ones of their kind in the Sudanese insurance sector.
LE: What does the world need to know about Sudan and about Shiekan?
SM: Sudan is home to one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The country is well on the way to diversifying its economy, with industry and services expanding at an accelerated pace. Shiekan Insurance and Reinsurance enjoys full exposure to Sudan’s upside potential. The company is effectively underwriting the country’s economic growth with insurance and reinsurance products aimed at corporate, institutional and individual customers who seek protection against risk and/or loss.
I personally have lived for 10 years outside of Sudan in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. I established a number of companies in Qatar, Oman and Yemen. When I am outside of Sudan and I watch CNN or Al Jazheera, there are so many sad stories about the country that it makes me very upset. But this is not the reality. Whenever I come to Sudan on holiday with my family, the situation is totally different. The media is playing a very important role in reflecting a very bad image of Sudan.
LE: Sharia-compliant takaful insurance has gained increasing interest among foreign investors. Can you give us some insights about the takaful market and why foreign investors should partner with Shiekan?
SM: Shiekan has been at the forefront of the development of, and the broad move towards, insurance products that comply with Islamic Law. The company’s range of collective and private takaful products has been met with both success and acceptance. As a result, Shiekan recently expanded its Sharia-compliant offerings with Expatriate Security Takaful, which is aimed at the approximately three million Sudanese employed abroad, and includes medical and life coverage. Shiekan also pioneered a takaful that provides top-up personal accident coverage for passengers using public transport.
The problem with the Sudanese is that we do not promote ourselves. Sudan will not come forward and take a position as a pioneer. We recently started promoting ourselves as the pioneer of Islamic insurance, to remind people that we Sudanese started Islamic insurance. This is necessary to shape a better image for Sudan worldwide. Our industry is helping a lot by applying world-class standards.
LE: Shiekan was the first operator to launch agricultural insurance in Sudan in 2002 by covering the country’s largest irrigated agricultural scheme. In which sectors do you see the most growth for underwriting big projects in the future?
SM: Shiekan didn’t only pioneer agricultural insurance, but also medical insurance, which we introduced in the Sudanese market in 2002-2003. Until 2002, most Sudanese received free medical treatment from public hospitals, but the financial burden became too much on the Government. We introduced medical insurance so that those who can pay for it can go to private hospitals, leaving room for the poor at the government hospitals. For us as a company, it is a bad business, but we want to help the government to provide medical treatment for the poor.
We were also pioneers in agricultural insurance. Sudan is an agricultural country with a huge area of fertile land and plenty of water from its many rivers. So in order to help the government attract more investment, to protect farmers against natural disasters and help the banks to provide funds for farmers, we introduced agricultural insurance. If anything goes wrong in agriculture (for example, a drought, or a flood), the banks can provide financing for the agricultural sector. Other companies followed us once again.
We also introduced micro-insurance. The government’s philosophy is to help the poor by providing microfinance. The Central Bank of Sudan in 2008 ordered the banking sector to allocate 1% of its investment portfolio to microfinance. This percentage has increased over the years to 12%. So to help the banks to go fully into this, we introduced micro-insurance to protect borrowers and banks as well. We introduced all these different types of insurance as a company and were quickly followed by others.
LE: What message would you like to convey to foreign investors regarding the reasons to come to Sudan and also to partner with Shiekan, to be sure that their investment is insured in the right way. Do you have all it takes to keep their investment safe?
SM: As an insurance company, we believe that we are the best partner for any investor who comes to Sudan. We offer a comprehensive set of insurance and reinsurance products tailored to sector-specific requirements and demands. We cater to discerning customers who appreciate the holistic approach to risk management and mitigation that we have pioneered.
If you look at our figures, we are leading the market. Most of the foreign investors come to us, to Shiekan. When you look at our portfolio, we are providing all classes of insurance so there is no problem for investors who are interested in having any insurance coverage. So for any investors who are coming to Sudan in any sector, we can help them.
Key Takeaways Shiekan Insurance Co
- Shiekan Insurance & Reinsurance Takaful operator has a market share of almost 50%
- Shiekan were pioneers in agricultural insurance
- Shiekan’s Expatriate Security Takaful is aimed at the approximately 3 million Sudanese employed abroad
- WEB: www.shiekanins.sd