New York: The founder of EBay Inc., Pierre Omidyar, and Calvert Group Ltd are among the backers of a $44 million (Rs210 crore) investment fund designed to show that firms can profit from selling insurance to the world’s poorest people.
The LeapFrog Financial Inclusion Fund, launched on Wednesday in Luxembourg, attracted investments from the European Investment Bank and Netherlands Development Finance Co.
The fund expects to invest in, or partner with, businesses that sell policies in countries including India, Pakistan, South Africa and Uganda with the aim of helping customers protect their families and their assets from calamity.
“We don’t believe you have to choose between profit and purpose,” said LeapFrog co-founder Andrew Kuper. “Demand is very intensive and extensive, and our investors were very excited by the opportunity to tap this very large and underserved market.”
Zurich Financial Services AG, Allianz SE and Munich Re are among firms already running insurance operations in developing nations, selling flood protection in Indonesia, life insurance in India and disability coverage in rural China. Microinsurance Center Llc., a research and advocacy group, in 2007 estimated a global market of one billion low-income people in the 100 poorest countries. Allianz put the number at 2.5 billion worldwide.
Kuper cited as models life insurance sold in South Africa’s largest church in partnership with insurer Sanlam Ltd and accidental death and disability policies sold over the counter by clothing retailer Edgars Consolidated Stores Ltd., the chain owned by Bain Capital Llc.
The LeapFrog fund, billed by its backers as the first to invest in microinsurance programmes, is seeking profits typical of private equity firms, the company said in publicity materials.
Investors include Omidyar’s philanthropic investment firm, called the Omidyar Network, Dutch lender Triodos Bank NV, Calvert’s Large Cap Growth Fund and Accion International, a non-profit that supports small-scale lending in Latin America.