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Property &Investments

NETWORKING

An intertwined lattice of property and insurance


Career insurer uses agency model to develop property business that spans counties
BY AKINYI JOSEPH allegiance a particular agent bears towards an insurance company and allows for varying extents of delity.

Modelled on the agent


While the tied agent serves one insurance company exclusively, the independent agent is nonpartisan in recommending an insurer. The semi tied agent - midway between the two - is tied to one insurer but when his company does not oer a particular line of products, he can sell products from another insurer. However as a result of their semi tied status, they are entitled to an oce space and to basic communication tools.

t wasnt by design. But when David Kimathi started his property company Daveland Enterprises after 22 years of experience in the insurance industry, he replicated the agency model that he had worked so intimately with while in insurance. And for his business, it was the golden stroke of success. Less than a year down the line, his company has a neat network of 16 agents that complements the countrys devolved structure and allows him to minimise operational costs while maximising earnings for his agents and himself.

Weighing the risks


Despite surface dierences between the two sectors, Mr Kimathi found that the inner workings of property and insurance were in fact very similar. First, Property is related to insurance because in both you must know how to manage the risk, he said. While with insurance, risk is managed by hedging against an uncertain loss, in the property market risk involves the possibility of nancial loss from owning a real estate investment. Mr Kimathi added that a career in both elds relied heavily on self-supervision simply because it involved a large amount of travel and exible working hours. But as a person who had sold his rst insurance policy to a fellow passenger while in a bus to Nairobi Serena, an unconventional and unregulated work environment appealed to him.The agency model in insurance - which is now widely applied in East and Southern Africa - is built on a description of agents as either tied, independent or semi tied. It is a categorisation which identies the level of
| Nairobi Business Monthly June

In the course of selling car or house insurance, these agents often became privy to a plot of land that is for sale

The agency model is one that Mr Kimathi helped to develop during his tenure with AIG, Insurance Company of East Africa (ICEA), Jubilee Insurance and Monarch Insurance - companies at which he supervised over 300 small and medium agents through various distribution channels - and when he transitioned to life as an entrepreneur in the property market, he carried the learnings of the agency model with him. From his experiences in insurance Mr

Kimathi knew that because independent agents are not formally employed by a particular company, they have the liberty to pursue their own paths as long as they have been legally licensed to sell insurance. These agents normally meet a lot of people, he said, explaining how in the course of selling car or house insurance, these agents often became privy to a plot of land that was for sale, either for commercial, residential or agricultural reasons. What I am doing, he continued, is picking the established agents and recruiting them as my agents. They know if a person is selling a house or a plot, and they introduce him to me. Once I have sold that house, I give them a part of my commission, he said. In a house sale in April, for instance, Mr Kimathi earned commission of Sh200,000 of which he gave Sh75,000 to the agent. This allows Mr Kimathi to cut on operaDavid Kimathi of Daveland Enterprises.

BRIEFS

NHC to develop 10,000 Housing Units


The National Housing Corporation has rolled-out construction of 10,000 housing units across the country, that will be 20% cheaper than what is currently available in the market, according to Chief Executive Ocer Wachira Njuguna. The houses in the neighbourhood that are sold at Sh7 million, we will sell at Sh5 million, he said. The venture will include 1 to 4 bedroom units with the 1 bedroom retailing at Sh2.5 million. Mr Wachira also revealed that the corporation is partnering with land owners to develop and sell their land. The housing project is in line with the Jubilee governments plan to create aordable and decent housing in the country.

Barclays affirms mortgage market


Mr Kimathis property business piggybacks on the network of insurance agents across the country.

tional expenses since he is not required to pay monthly salaries, while at the same time, the insurance agents who are doubling as property agents earn a commission. It also allows Mr Kimathi to take home a tidy sum in commissions every month. In just under a year, Mr Kimathi has built a network of agents that includes three in Machakos, two in Kitengela, one in Kajiado, two in Mombasa and eight in Nairobi.

The right and the left hand


The complementary nature of the two sectors means that Mr Kimathi and his agents have established two sources of revenue since they are able to sell an insurance cover to complement every property deal they are involved in. Last month, Mr Kimathi said he sold a house and his agent - in addition to earning a commission on the sale - sold home insurance to the buyer. I organise insurance for my customers

because it is a value proposition, he said. In addition to selling plots, Daveland Enterprises has also partnered with a modern construction company that adopts panel technology to cut the cost of building a home by 30%. I am not an engineer, he said frankly but I can work with engineers who know about modern construction as partners. His company also offers management services to agricultural land owners where he connects farmers with governmental and non governmental organisations such as Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) to boost their farming capabilities. Going forward he also plans to buy and sibdivide large acres of land for sale. It is clear that the network concept Mr Kimathi has built his business on is not limited to the design of his sta base. He has built a one stop shop for anyone interested in investing in property.

Barclays Bank of Kenya has rolled out a xed rate mortgage product featuring a 15.9% Interest rate, with which customers will enjoy xed rate monthly repayments for the rst three years of the mortgage term. Speaking during a virtual appearance on the Kenya Bankers Association My CEO Chat session, Barclays Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori, acknowledged that mortgage penetration in Kenya was low but assured that plans to deepen the local market are underway. He encouraged self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs not to shy away from applying for mortgages, as they only need to demonstrate consistent income and ability to repay the mortgage. When you are self-employed, especially in the informal sector, its important to formalise your income streams by channelling your funds through a bank account, Mr Awori said. To support local property developers, he said local banks are encouraging customers to buy built housing units as opposed to building their own units to help gain economies of scale advantage, as they allow for signicant cost savings.

June

Nairobi Business Monthly |