After six years as an agent for Botswana Life, Mavis Taboka Proctor decided to set-up her own insurance wing, Proctor Insurance Services.
Located behind Galo Mall, the one-year-old company, which is contracted to Botswana Life, is legally licenced by Non-Bank Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA).
The single mother-of-two talks to Voice Reporter Kabelo Dipholo about her new business and her journey in the insurance world.
Q. You have been an employee of Botswana Life for sometime, but you have recently set up your own insurance company. Kindly share with us how you did it.
A. Yes, I was at Botswana Life for six years as an agent. It then came to a point where I felt I needed to do something different, but in the same industry.
It was not an easy decision; the steps that I had to take to make this a reality were exhausting.
I had to deal with issues of compliance, the tedious licencing process and stuff like that.
I remember there was a time I was paying office rent, with no business coming in because I was yet to get a licence.
Finally, after all the labouring and patience, Proctor Insurance Services was born.
Q. What exactly does Proctor Insurance Services do?
A. We sell insurance solutions; that is the core of our business. Our aim is to recruit and train agents but under contractual agreement with Botswana Life.
It basically means we decide how we run this business but we observe the contractual obligation. I have to be clear that without this contract with Botswana Life, I’d have never been licensed.
Q. What does your company offer?
A. We sell financial solutions. We have funeral policies, investment and life cover.
We also provide education on what exactly insurance is.
A lot of Batswana still don’t get this insurance language.
When you mention insurance they think death.
They don’t know about retirement and life covers.
We still have to teach our people about insurance and how it works.
Q. Why is it important for one to be insured?
A. Insurance is like buying peace of mind.
Should anything happen, you are sure of your story.
Insurance is part of a human life circle.
Q. Why did you decide to ‘go it alone?’
A. Like I said before, I wanted to do something different, within the same profession.
Setting up this business was part of my growth.
I went from being an employee to being a business partner.
I perform two roles in the company: I’m the Director and an agent.
I have a Manager and there are five other people working with me.
This is an empire I’m building under the Proctor name.
Q. You chose to establish your company in Francistown when most businesses are shutting down or relocating. What was the rationale in setting up in a city struggling to survive?
A. Francistown is home. I know that does not make business sense, but I don’t see myself staying in any other city.
I get a lot of support from people who watched me grow from a little girl to a woman in this city.
Insurance is a sensitive industry and most times people understand someone they know and trust and that is what I’m getting in Francistown.
I believe this is the right place for me to grow and nurture this company before expanding to other areas.
Q. Running a business is not small task. What do you posses that you believe will help you make this a success?
A. My work ethic is my strongest attribute. I’m a ‘hands-on’ person and I believe the experience I acquired while at Botswana Life will come in handy.
Botswana Life introduced me to the journey of life and showed me the importance of insurance. Since running this business I have grown, both professionally and personally.
I’ve learnt to be compassionate and courageous because I have people coming to me for advice.
It has built my character because now I know tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Q. What are the challenges associated with the insurance business?
A. One of the major challenges is that people generally think less of insurance agents.
They view them as people who are out to get their money. They don’t even know that these are trained professionals.
It is not an easy thing to get a Certificate Of Proficiency (COP) – and that is a requirement for all agents.
Another big challenge is lack of knowledge; we have people currently paying for policies every month and they don’t even know what they are paying for.
We need to educate, especially the working class – nobody is supposed to retire poor!
Q. Where do you see your business in five years time?
A. Proctor Insurance Services will be the game changer in the industry.
I’m certain about this because we are partners with the biggest insurance brand in the country.
People will be humbled once they see what we are bringing.
Q. Besides insurance, what else do you do?
A. I have something that I do part-time, and that is selling designer sunglasses and handbags.
I’m a self-made stylist and I travel a lot, sourcing stuff for my clients.
This is what I do when I don’t want to think about insurance.
I have a Facebook page where clients can contact me for my services.