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Gender Equality In The Workplace – SA Is Getting It Right

Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa, on fostering high potential female entrepreneurs in South Africa.

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According to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, South Africa ranked 17th out of 145 countries when it comes to closing the gender gap, ranking above both the UK (18) and the USA (28). These statistics highlight the fact that despite South Africa being a developing nation, the country is definitely progressive in terms of gender equality in the workplace.

This is according to Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa – the leading provider of assistance services, who says women are increasingly being recognised for their strong leadership skills and are being taken seriously in South African boardrooms.

“This is largely a result of gender equity policies within our country’s Constitution which has created an environment in which women are respected and encouraged to thrive.”

Related: Tech Can Be A Powerful Tool For Achieving Gender Equality

Colman says there are many big companies, even international corporations, which still do not recognise women’s role in business.

“However, the paradigm is starting to shift in South Africa and I do believe that we are starting to get this right. For example, at Europ Assistance South Africa we have a very strong female leadership team in place at an executive level and we are at the forefront of empowering South African women,” says Colman.

She points to the latest 2016 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index (WE Cities) which indicated that Johannesburg is amongst the top 25 cities in the world that foster high potential female entrepreneurs.

There is a growing pool of powerful women leading up corporate organisations, government institutions and even entrepreneurial initiatives like Salukazi Dakile-Hlongwane – Director of Nozala Investments, Wendy Appelbaum – Director of Sphere Holdings, Wendy Luhabe – Chair and Founder of Women Private Equity Fund, Lizé Lambrechts – Chief Executive of Santam and Lynette Magasa – Founder and Chief Executive of Boniswa Corporate Solutions.

“They are making great strides in South Africa’s working world which is very encouraging for the future female leaders of the country.”

The way that women are treated in our society and the manner in which male counterparts react towards women have changed for the better, she adds.

Related: Do Women Entrepreneurs Face Gender Discrimination?

“More companies are realising the benefits of employing females in senior positions. Even without implementing rigid gender quota systems, which don’t seem to work internationally, we have managed to witness incredible women flourishing in various industries and making a real difference in the country. I am a firm believer that companies that have leadership teams that reflect the markets they serve in gender make-up, are better equipped to do so.”

When we look at someone like Thuli Madonsela – she is a brilliant example of a true leader for our younger generation, says Colman.

“Her strong leadership presence has contributed to her success, professional standing and the impact that she has had in this country. She is a fearless and determined leader who has taken on some of the most powerful politicians in the country and I would like to see many more females striving to adapt to this type of leadership style.”

Helen Szemerei, Chief Commercial Officer at EASA, says it is encouraging to see how many businesses in South Africa are developing a growing culture of empowered females in an effort to improve the proportion of senior positions held by women.

She points to the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index which indicates that South Africa is a leader in empowering women in Sub-Saharan Africa and was ranked higher in this index when compared to most other developing countries.

“While we are in the process of making great strides, we have to continue working towards fostering a business culture where women, and essentially younger girls, are confident and motivated to pursue their leadership goals and even improve further on our rankings for closing the gender gap.”

Szemerei says all South Africans have a role to play when it comes to creating a safe and adaptive working environment in which women can thrive.

“By providing adequate benefits, flexible working hours and proper maternity benefits, companies can attract more female employees to their organisations. When businesses take into consideration women’s needs to still adhere to their family obligations, they will open themselves up to a vast group of skilled, educated and very equipped women to lead their operations. It is absolutely vital that we nurture women through their various life stages, including the child bearing years, which is a period of time that can be incredibly difficult to navigate for the majority of women.”

Related: Information Technology: Is It A Man’s World?

Colman advises women looking to grow their careers into senior positions to tap into available resources, such as female networking clubs.

“Women can use these type of platforms to share their experiences with like-minded women who understand their aspirations. At the same time, they also have access to sound advice for overcoming challenges. The value of these networks cannot be underestimated as women are encouraged and inspired by those around them.”

“It takes no great strength to rule with an iron fist, fear will get the job done. However, to birth and nurture the greatness in others has been the job of a woman from the beginning of time,” concludes Colman.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Uber-like Insurance Platform Is Revolutionising The World Of Insurance Claims

the 4-Sure platform, which was launched two short years ago by actuary Shalen Moodley and a collective of seasoned tech gurus, is to provide value-added services that benefit the financial services industry. All partners had substantial success across Africa introducing loan origination platforms for leading banks before deciding to tackle the problems existing in the insurance claims fulfilment process.

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A multi-sided, digitally-driven business platform that has been wholly-developed and launched in South Africa is ‘uberising’ the local short-term insurance industry by transforming the traditional claim fulfilment landscape.

Developed locally by Insuretech sensation 4-Sure and headed up by actuary-turned-entrepreneur Shalen Moodley, the 4-Sure platform seamlessly connects the claims ecosystem consisting of the customer, broker, insurer, service providers and suppliers and manages all complex interactions and sequencing required to deliver superb customer experience, optimal claim cost and fast turnaround times. 

“The new system, which eliminates virtually all the manual processes and “waste work” involved in dealing with a claim, also provides enhanced opportunities for small businesses to compete for insurance claim work traditionally only available to a select few. Simultaneously, it reduces the fraud risks associated with the manual allocation of claims, and reduces costs across the board”, says Moodley.

“There are several weaknesses inherent in the appointment of the traditional insurance panels, “says Moodley. Relationships between the insurer’s agent and supplier base can result in some contractors being favoured above others. The payment of “incentives” by service providers as a reward for getting work can also skew the allocation process and drive massive cost inflations. Furthermore, costs can vary for similar jobs and the use of assessors for approval of routine jobs results in time delays and increased administration costs.”

“Most seriously for most insurers, is that contact with the customer is lost during the claim fulfilment process – they are disintermediated. Often, the result is dissatisfaction on the part of the customer, disrupted processes, unnecessary delays and often the possibility of an unhappy customer withdrawing their insurance and other investments with the associated brands of the insurer.

After extensive discussions with the industry regarding problems faced with settling claims, 4-Sure concluded that reformation of the system should be based on shorter, effective communication structures, the ‘democratisation’ of the panel system and the strategic use of technology to improve customer delivery and satisfaction levels.

Related: Why Start-ups Like Uber Stumble When They Scale

The answer was the building of an entire ecosystem based on the use of sophisticated regressive algorithms that made the ‘Circle of Service’ between insurer and claimant transparent and frictionless. Creating an extensive database, making software available to service providers and connecting suppliers of raw materials as well as early payment mechanisms completed the service circle. As well as speeding up claim response times, the process was also efficient and fundamentally more effective.

Taking inspiration from the concept launched by the Uber transport system, the insurance platform includes a vastly increased list of qualified and rated service providers. As in the ride-sharing service, becoming listed requires that several stringent criteria are met by service providers. When a claim is registered – including the time when the customer requires assistance – it drops into the platform. Appropriate service providers listed can then respond and confirm their availability. They are then required to be on site at the time stipulated by the customer, undertake the work and then complete a Mobile App-driven reporting process for the insurer’s records (including before and after photographs, assessments and costings).

To participate in the platform a service provider must have a smartphone and the software, provided free by 4-Sure. Part of the package includes a service provider ‘scheduler’s’ desktop package that enables job scheduling, field technician allocation and all the information relating to the job to be collated and electronically submitted for payment to the insurer.

“For a sole trader or SME, one of the greatest challenges to building a sustainable business is controlling cash flow. Service providers on 4-Sure do not have to carry an extensive array of raw materials to fulfil allocated insurance claims work. Once they are on site, have assessed the repair work and had it approved within minutes, the service provider is able to visit a 4-Sure approved partner supplier (Builder’s Warehouse, Penny Pinchers, Buco, Plumblink and others) and pick up the required stock.

“They are then using their 4-Sure Mobile App to get the necessary materials and the outlet then bills the insurance company concerned directly through the 4-Sure software for the expenditure. Because of the volumes involved, we have been able to negotiate favourable prices for these services which are now on offer at more than 400 service points across the country.  The service provider bills only for the time and labour spent on the job at the agreed rates. Their bills are then submitted using the 4-Sure software, go directly to the insurer and are generally settled within 24-48 hours.”

“As smaller operators are no longer waiting between 30 and 60 days for their money, they are happy to complete routine jobs for a set fee.  Depending on the service they deliver and the ratings they receive, they are in control of just how much work comes their way.  As a job is loaded on the system and service providers then bid for the work, competition is assured and opportunities for work are equal across the spectrum of service providers – a new paradigm which rewards performance with more work and manages the non-performers off the platform.”

Further value is added to service providers by free access to geo-positioning systems, which not only plots their way to their closest parts supplier but also to the customer’s property.  Jobs that appear on their systems also cover the areas in which they choose to operate. As is the case with their Uber driver colleagues, those closest to the customer can make their presence known and compete for the work. Those who feel the costs of reaching the site do not make a job worthwhile simply do not respond to the job alert,” says Moodley.

For insurers, who can track the response times of service providers in real-time and contact them electronically if they are late on site, the major benefit is that the loss of customer contact at the point of handing over a claim to an incident manager no longer exists.

Related: How Uber Grew To A Billion Dollar Business (And How You Can Make Money With It)

The typical flow of a job is made easier by:

  • Insurers were able to use a sophisticated eco-system that is a centralised platform connecting all players in the supply chain, facilitating a seamless claims fulfilment process.
  • Customer contacts their insurer via their contact centre, their website, or a digital self-service channel and this claim, is electronically dropped into the 4-Sure to facilitate the claim process automatically.
  • A claim’s details being logged directly on the 4-Sure platform instead of being referred to an incident manager. The message enables specific skills, customer location, a time required for service and other factors to be selected so that it can be responded to by competing service providers.

Explains Moodley, co-founder of 4-Sure and one of the innovators behind the home-grown platform that caters specifically for local needs and is believed to be the leading services of its type anywhere in the world:

“4-Sure has succeeded in becoming the first, fully-digital insurance claims platform to provide a truly customer-centric experience. The system is flexible and although the present focus is on non-motor claims, other avenues, including motor insurance and non-insurance opportunities are being investigated and developed,” says Moodley.

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Win A Seat At 10X-e’s 10X-ECUTION Bootcamp (Valued At R5900)

Automatically receive 20% off the Bootcamp just by entering!

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Transform chaos into systematically achieving business goals, at scale. Hosted by founder, Jason Goldberg

Enter by emailing your company name, your name and your designation to Monique: mchaitezvi@edgegrowth.com

About 10X-e:

Scaling – the Bermuda Triangle of growth – is hard, and fraught with failure. Very few of even the top 1% of ventures succeed at scaling, mostly due to poor execution, due to lack of experience scaling businesses. The 10X Program brings the ‘Science of Scale’ and seasoned Scale Up Leaders to help founders navigate the Bermuda Triangle of growth

Our team has helped some of the Continent’s most exciting high growth businesses scale up through the most treacherous parts of the journey. We tailor make multiple workshops to the specific needs of you, your team, and your business. Our workshops serve to address the most pressing challenges that your business faces, helping remove the hurdles towards 10X growth.

For more information on 10X-e, visit: https://10xe.co.za/ 

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Off The Beaten Track

What Tourism Month means in South Africa and how Mango Airlines is focusing on local opportunities.

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This September, being Tourism Month, we have so much to talk about in South Africa, and so many people to engage with, both domestically and abroad. We are privileged to be able to leverage a broad range of destinations – arguably world-class in nature, and they expand way beyond a beautiful mountain, and an ecosystem of game.

The vast majority of leisure tourists, however, remain attracted to the Mother City and various Safari destination, while business tourists tend to stick to hub cities for short durations of time before departing again.

“There is a golden opportunity to expand on the same offerings – while not detracting from them in any way. Our responsibility is to drive tourism into new areas, really emphasising the differentiators that are incredibly attractive to local and international tourists,” said Benediction Zubane, Head of Marketing at Mango Airlines.

“Often tourists visit one of the more well-known sites in an area, and are completely unaware of the other features and destinations close by. We’re seeing a lot of success in township tourism which goes to show how diversifying can really drive new tourism opportunities,” explained Zubane.

Related: Travel Tour Agency Sample Business Plan

According to Statistics South Africa survey on Tourism and Migration, nearly 3.5 million international travellers visited South Africa in August 2017. Top numbers were tourists from USA, UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands, with African visitors primarily coming from SADC countries. Zubane added, “This means there is vast opportunity to begin engaging with travellers in new countries across the globe. We need to become our own best ambassador, talking-up our famous and lesser known destinations, proudly showcases our uniqueness. We should also be tourists in our own country and start exploring the wonders of the Rainbow Nation.”

Mango is passionate about helping its SMEs and entrepreneurial community to successfully overcome the unique challenges facing the tourism industry: “There has never been a more opportune time for small businesses and entrepreneurs to benefit positively from tourism in South Africa, and we hope to celebrate alongside our SME community as they fly high – both literally and figuratively,” he concludes.

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