Rwanda’s First Private Insurance Company...

Rwanda’s First Private Insurance Company “Société Rwandaise d’Assurances-SORAS SA” is celebrating its 30th Anniversary on 15th November with 27 branches country wide, 300 permanent employees and 115 contract staff.

SORAS SA was established on July 2nd 1984 and it started its operations on the 15th November 1984 as per the Presidential decree # 556/07 and which was gazetted on 5th September 1984.

From Inception, SORAS was a subsidiary and had a close technical working relationship with Union des Assurances de Paris-UAP international, which was one of the largest and well known Insurance Companies in France and worldwide. Due to its technical and capacity support, SORAS quickly established its position as a leader in offering quality services and competitive Insurance products.

In an Interview with IGIHE, the Chairman of SORAS GROUP, Mr. Charles Mporanyi said that SORAS is proud of many things including the fact that since its inception in 1984 it has continued and it is still expanding and has never ceased to provide good services to its customers.

Mr. Mporanyi
Mr. Mporanyi said SORAS SA will remain "INGABO Y’AMAHINA" as it is the most reliable insurance company in Rwanda to give you total secure cover, supported by excellent personalized service all the time.

In the first year of 1985, SORAS had one branch in Kigali with 30 employees and customers were counted at about 2200. In that year SORAS generated about Rwf 180 million.

Nowadays SORAS has 27 branches country wide, 300 permanent employees and 115 contract employees.

The number of customers has increased from 2200 in 1985 to 407,000 in 2014 while its Yearly business profits stands at Rwf 15 billion. SORAS has started to provide services using modern technologies namely “E-Business” to facilitate customers to get services without traveling long journey looking for SORAS offices.

IGIHE : You are celebrating 30th Anniversary, can you briefly tell us about Historical background of SORAS ?

Mr. Mporanyi : At the beginning SORAS was not « A Group ». It was Insurance Company. Thereafter it became an extended family and since then it is “A Group.” In 2009 SORAS was divided into 5 companies. The first is SORAS Group Ltd which is the mother of all companies, the second is “SORAS Assurances Générales”, the third is “SORAS Vie Ltd”, the Fourth is GENIMMO which deals with Housing and we have another one Agaseke Bank which is the fifth of our line institutions.

However we have found that it is not good to have 5 companies, so we decided to merge GENIMMO with “SORAS Group” and therefore it became an Investment company. Today we remain with Assurances Générales and Life Insurance group, SORAS Vie. We are also leaving Agaseke Bank to private sectors because we have found that our main focus is in Insurance business.

We have also established businesses outside Rwanda. In 2012 we bought shares in Société Commerciale d’Assurances et de Réassurance of Burundi while in 2014 we joined hands with an International company called SANLAM and it is currently the big shareholder in SORAS.

IGIHE : What challenges did you meet when you were launching SORAS ?

Mporanyi : At the beginning, there were not clear laws regarding Insurance in Rwanda. The Government was the only institution to establish insurance cost. Citizens also thought that Insurance is for those who have cars only. But slowly by slowly, such behavior changed. We are the first ones who brought in Life Insurance. We kept working hard and brought in Illness insurance and later create Agriculture Insurance.

Another challenge was lack of synergy between us and other public institutions. We were two on the market, SORAS was in the competition with a Government owned company. At the time there was a kind of bias because all Government institutions were pro Government Company.

IGIHE : How did you succeed in dealing with those challenges ?

Mporanyi : First of all we came to the market with the new technologies which our rivals had not. For instance when someone was to look for insurance in any other company than SORAS it took him/her 2 months waiting while in SORAS it is only 15 minutes and you get what you want.

This has led to the increase number of our customers because of the good, innovative and timely Insurance services we deliver. The number of our customers has been increasing on a yearly basis. Save in 1994 when the Genocide against Tutsis happened and some of our partners were killed at the time.

All we have done to improve our services have helped us to maintain our position as a first insurance company operating in Rwanda. Our experience in this sector is the foundation of all achievements that we have today.

IGIHE : How big is SORAS after 30 years of operations ?

Mporanyi : We grew-up. Really ! We started with one office in Kigali but today we have 27 branches in the country. From 30 employees in 1980s today we have 300 permanent employees and 115 others on contract status.

Our clientele stood at 2200 but today we have 407,000 customers. In 1985, our business profits were Rwf 180 million, but today we stand at Rwf 15 billion per year.

IGIHE : What makes you happy considering SORAS achievement since its inception ?

Mporanyi : First of all we wanted to establish a Rwandan Private Insurance Company and we made it. Second people are joining our services in a great number. We are now the first insurance company in Rwanda with the greatest number of customers. What we can add is that this company had never been in loss which is an exciting thing for any private institution.

IGIHE : Back to 30th Anniversary. When will the anniversary take place and what is the message for this years’ anniversary ?

Mporanyi : The celebration will take place on 15 November, 2014 at Hôtel Serena. This is the day of happiness. It’s time to look back on what is going well and where it is not going as planned and decide on how to improve more. The day will be also an occasion to look back on the journey we accomplished, where we are today and where we are heading to.

IGIHE : What are the new projects as far as the business expansion is concerned ?

Mporanyi : We are not planning to create more companies because we are now focusing on insurance and investment. In investment we have a big project of constructing a 10 Storey in Kigali and two other houses. The Storey will be named “SORAS Tower”. It will mark our experience. We are also looking on empowering our Business technology systems so as to be able to serve our clients in space and time. We launched E-Business in this month and it is going well.

IGIHE : What are current Insurance challenges that you face ?

Mporanyi : Normally, Insurance is something that contributes to the national development. The problem is that many people are still reluctant about this service. They don’t understand the role of having insurance.

Other challenges include the increasing number of accidents which go hands in hands with the cost for the insurance holders. On this we had chance because the Government has put more efforts in dealing with those accidents such as traffic accidents as well as fire outbreaks that cause more and more damages.

Also there is a problem of laws not yet in place. We call upon the Government to establish basic wage to help us in case we are dealing with damages pay and this will prevent people from being mendacious while claiming their compensations

IGIHE : Briefly tell us about SORAS’s social responsibility programs ?

Mporanyi : We do have some organization that we work together, for instance, through those organization we support Genocide survivors in Mugina. We gave them cows and land where to graze their cattle. We support tea farmers. So every year we have a budget for corporate social responsibilities.

IGIHE : What is your message to SORAS customers and those who wish to be new customers ?

Mporanyi : My message today is that SORAS is "INGABO Y’AMAHINA" : This means that it has many objectives. When you are in severe problems, SORAS will help you to come out of them with success. People should keep having confidence in us. When they meet accidents we pay them undoubtedly. We have confidence in them as they do for us.

The Interview was translated from Kinyarwanda into English by Ange de la Victoire Dusabemungu

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