Two Thrivent employees describe their experience in Kenya as a microwave of growth

Association/company: Thrivent
Country: USA

Ellie Anderson is an Innovation Consultant and Dan Wanous is a Business Development Lead, both work at Thrivent Financial (USA). In September 2018, Ellie and Dan visited CIC Insurance Group in Kenya for three months to conduct a Technical Assistance assignment for CIC’s project under the ICMIF 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy. Both Ellie and Dan reflect that this first-hand experience of an alternative business model in a new market greatly accelerated their personal growth. They also witnessed first-hand the power that mutual microinsurance has to reduce risk and increase stability in low-income and vulnerable communities.

Who was the assignment for?

CIC Insurance Group (CIC) in Kenya. ICMIF is partnering with its member CIC to help their mutual insurance solutions for low-income populations reach scale in Kenya. Through its partnership with CIC, ICMIF aims to supply 250,000 dairy farmers with affordable livestock microinsurance over the next five years.

What was the assignment?

The purpose of this assignment was to provide strategic advice to support the first few months of CIC’s project under the 5-5-5 project, which officially launched in 2018.


“Through the immersive, hands-on experience of supporting the launch of a microinsurance business, I gained rich perspective on many foundational elements of strategy, business and leadership. I got to see the power of mutual insurance to reach new markets, deepening my commitment to the mutual model.”
Ellie Anderson, Innovation Consultant, Thrivent (USA)

How did it work?

Both Ellie and Dan relocated to Nairobi (Kenya) for three months, which enabled them to join those employees working on the 5-5-5 at CIC as part of the project team. During their time in Kenya, Ellie and Dan and the team worked on the contracts, infrastructure, and systems surrounding the insurance plans. Dan focused on developing a comprehensive metrics and monitoring plan to inform strategic decision-making, track business growth, and help validate assumptions about the business model. Ellie led the team in end-to-end customer and operational journey mapping to identify "pain points" and barriers for improvement, whilst building out the training modules and marketing for the product. As part of CIC’s insurance literacy training programme for low-income farmers, Ellie and Dan had the opportunity to attend a training session with 900 farmers which they had assisted with organising – an experience they both say they will never forget.

What has been the impact of the assignment so far?

By the end of their time in Kenya, Ellie and Dan had designed both customer experience and operational improvements throughout the product value chain – including the development of a digital-based insurance application and services platform. They had also finalised and upskilled the CIC team on the new template for tracking business growth and societal impact of the Kenya project. Since returning to Thrivent, Ellie has found her experience of applying human-centred design invaluable when approaching business decisions from the customers’ perspective. Dan is also on a new business development team at Thrivent following his time at CIC, and has found his experience in Kenya around go-to-market strategies very valuable in his new role.

It was a microwave of growth, I learnt so much in that period of three months. I came back a more valuable, passionate and engaged employee.”
Dan Wanous, Business Development Lead, Thrivent (USA)

“We are extremely grateful for the time Ellie and Dan spent with us at CIC in Kenya; both were dedicated and enthusiastic individuals who bought a wealth of new ideas and new practices to the project. The processes and strategies developed by Ellie and Dan will be instrumental in helping CIC protect the lives and livelihoods of many more low-income farmers in Kenya. ”
Eve Thiong’o, Business Development Manager, CIC Insurance Group, Kenya

Find out more about the ICMIF Foundation technical assistance programme
and how to get involved

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