MARS and CARE: supporting women empowerment
Established in 1991, the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) initiative has been driving economic empowerment across the world for more than 25 years.
What does MARS and CARE’s joint model mean for cocoa-growing communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana?
MARS and CARE’s joint model aims to build women’s social and economic empowerment in cocoa-growing communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Currently the model has 12,000 members that it has been supporting throughout 2019, however MARS and CARE have set targets to reach an additional 50,000 by 2025.
The VSLA will help households accumulate savings, provide loans and provide access to local finance institutions.
What is the VSLA Model?
The model starts off by establishing VSLA groups of 15-25 members, who act as entry points in the community to support interventions in:
Connection to formal finance
Income growth and diversification
Early childhood development
“The well-being of women in cocoa-growing communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana is a critical link to family food security and nutrition, education, health and child protection, and drives the long-term prospects for a future of educated cocoa farmers,” said John Ament, Global Vice President – Cocoa, Mars Wrigley. “Based on CARE’s implementation of this approach for Mars since 2015, our ambition is that each element of the VSLA model will not only contribute to closing the gap to a living income for cocoa-growing households, but will also increase resilience and women’s confidence, and strengthen local governance and child protection.”
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5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.