LIBERIA: Activa Insurance Expands Operations

Activa International Insurance Company (Lib) Limited, a Pan-African Insurer that operates in over 35 countries, was just one of the many average insurance companies in the country that operated from a two-room office when Atty. Saye D. Gbalazeh took over.

Since then, and as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) over a year and a half ago, Atty. Gbalazeh has led Activa to lead the insurance industry. It now occupies the ground floor of the Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) building in Sinkor.

This is part of the dynamic and people-oriented leadership style of Atty. Gbalazeh and his new team.

Gbalazeh is a an accomplished insurance professional who worked in Corporate America for over twenty-three years with recognized companies such as One Beacon Professional Insurance Company, a leading professional liability insurance company in Connecticut, USA, and Healthcare Professional Liability Program, United States Risk Underwriters in Dallas, amongst others. Activa is the originator of the Globus Network, which is a grouping of insurance companies in 36 countries in Africa. Activa is headquartered in Cameroon, with its holding company in Mauritius.

The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank has an interest in Activa, which compels the company to live up to certain standards.

The company provides client services backed by the best international financial security such as Munich Re, Africa Re, among others. Services are delivered by efficient management system.

In an exclusive interview in Monrovia recently, Atty. Gbalazeh said: "Our people need better services and this is what we are here to do."

The company is at the verge of constructing its multi-million dollar headquarters in the country. "Building a permanent structure for our operations will guarantee Liberians that we are not here to grab and go, but to be a partner in the country's development," he added.

The company has a student intern program where university students are recruited and taught about the insurance business.

Atty. Gbalazeh sees leadership from several perspectives because he believes that an effective leader must have the authority to lead the people and should serve by example.

He said one should not always put money ahead of service. "As a leader your priority should not always be money, if you do your core values well, benefits will follow," he said.

He also said that he always strives to provide guidance and best services to his numerous clients.

AIIC (Lib) Limited currently has 24 employees and 20 additional contractors whom he referred to as agents working in many parts of the country.

"My focus is not the competition, but how to set Activa apart from other insurers in this country," he said.

The company is also investing in human capital. "Since my arrival, I have scouted for the smartest and most talented guys in the industry," he said, adding that Activa has a future in Liberia. "We want to change the perception about the industry in this country."

Atty. Gbalazeh anticipates the establishment of the Activa University Students' Club where insurance education and technical training will be available.

As a way of motivating employees, he pays his staff for 13 months (double in December)-an unusual trend in Liberia.

The CEO said that Activa is a good corporate citizen that is helping to give back to the Liberian society. Through its continental corporate arm, the Activa Foundation, is based in Port-Louise, Mauritius, the company envisages taking on projects annually in Liberia.

The company has spent thousands of dollars in various communities through its Corporate Social Responsibility Program with the latest beneficiaries being women and children that were affected by the Ebola Virus Disease in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties.

Activa provided, through the YWCA's WISE Project, US$20,000. WISE (Women in Sustainable Enterprise) is a 12 month project that trains women in vocational skills. The project also intends to de-traumatize victims of EVD in the two counties while trying to reintegrate them in their communities.

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