Comprehensive Insurance Coverage: Protecting Against All Risks, Big and Small

20 Leading Companies to Watch in 2024

In a world of uncertainties, insurance is the anchor that holds our dreams steady. While investment banks and hedge funds dance in the financial limelight, the silent fortresses of stability, insurance companies, often go unnoticed. In this nuanced realm, Reunion Insurance Company Ltd. stands tall as a Malawian stalwart, a testament to the vision and leadership of Dorothy Chapeyama.

Founded in 2005, Reunion Insurance has etched a commendable professional record, navigating the intricate landscapes of claims, underwriting, and overall insurance operations. Dorothy, the co-founder and CEO, emerges as the steady hand at the helm, steering the company through the unpredictable seas of the insurance industry.

Dorothy’s journey commenced in 1984 with Commercial Union Assurance Company plc, where she embarked on a career as an Underwriter straight out of university. By 2005, she found herself at the forefront, becoming the Acting General Manager for the company’s Malawi branch as Commercial Union Assurance Company plc withdrew from the Malawian market.

A Chartered Insurer and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (UK), Dorothy’s professional acumen is a beacon of excellence. Her career isn’t just a collection of milestones; it’s a narrative of positive contributions to the insurance industry and the nation.

Beyond the boardroom, Dorothy’s influence reverberates in society. Her commitment to mentorship programs, selflessness, and job creation have distinguished her as a figure whose impact transcends the realms of business. Corporate social responsibilities are not just checkboxes for Reunion Insurance; they are a reflection of Dorothy’s ethos—a commitment to touch lives positively.

In a world where the flashy often overshadows the steadfast, Dorothy and Reunion Insurance Company Ltd. emerge as guardians of stability. Through years of dedication, their story isn’t just about managing risks; it’s about ensuring that dreams stay anchored and the fabric of society remains resilient.

Below are the interview highlights:

A Guiding Light in the Insurance Landscape

In the intricate domain of insurance, Dorothy stands as a guiding light, firm in her belief that success is not an individual triumph but a collective journey of empowering others to realize their full potential. As the driving force behind Reunion Insurance Company, Dorothy has dedicated her career to creating platforms for young professionals, fostering innovation, and embracing a stakeholder-centric approach to success.

Inspiring the Next Generation

To Dorothy, success transcends personal accolades; it is about the growth and achievements of those she inspires. At Reunion Insurance, she champions young professionals, providing them with exposure to make transformative contributions. The management team, guided by Dorothy, exemplifies youthful vibrancy and innovative thinking, propelling the firm into uncharted territories.

Dorothy’s success philosophy extends beyond individual milestones. She emphasizes a stakeholder approach, stating that success results from meeting the realistic expectations of shareholders, employees, customers, regulators, and other stakeholders. “Success becomes automatic once the expectations of all stakeholders are met,” affirms Dorothy.

Leadership in Action

Seventeen years ago, Reunion Insurance embarked on its journey as a modest insurance firm with a handful of employees and rented offices. Today, the company’s growth is a testament to Dorothy’s exceptional leadership. A once humble rented head office has transformed into a spacious, company-owned building. Employee numbers, branches, and market share have all witnessed exponential growth.

Even amid economic turbulence, Reunion Insurance remains resilient. The staff has expanded from an initial 10 employees to a robust team of 67, operating from 11 branches across the country. Dorothy’s leadership has been pivotal in steering the company through challenges, turning them into opportunities for growth.

Catalysts for Success

Drawing parallels between business success and diamond formation—both requiring high temperatures and pressure—Dorothy views challenges not as stumbling blocks but as stepping stones to strength. Throughout her professional journey, she encountered challenges that could have led to premature capitulation, yet her persistence prevailed.

Competition from well-established industry players presented a significant roadblock. Confronting companies with decades of experience capable of influencing the insurance market, Dorothy navigated through the tough landscape. Patience, she learned, pays off strategically. The value of uniqueness and identifying a target market’s needs set Reunion Insurance apart, attracting customers despite overwhelming competition.

Adaptability is another lesson Dorothy highlights. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of technology for business resilience. Reunion Insurance has pivoted to a technologically driven business model, emphasizing its role in claims, underwriting, distribution, marketing, and risk management.

A Trailblazer in the Insurance Sector

Dorothy’s academic prowess, holding a Bachelor of Commerce (Accountancy) degree and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Malawi, laid the foundation for her illustrious career. Recognition followed suit, with numerous awards underscoring her impact on the insurance sector.

In 2016, CEO Global, RSA, declared her the country, regional, and continental winner of Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government (Insurance Sector). Subsequent accolades include “Best Women of the Year (2018)” and “CEO of the Year (2018)” by CEO Today (UK) and the Finance Monthly Magazine (UK). An Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Commonwealth University in 2018 and recognition as one of the 2019 Top 100 Women CEOs in Africa by Reset Global People further solidify Dorothy’s standing. Recent honors include the 2022 Woman of Substance Award and the Insurance CEO of the Year 2022 Award.

Notably, Dorothy ranked among the top 50 Women Insurance Professionals in Africa, receiving the award during the annual African Insurers Organisation (AIO) Conference in Kenya on June 27, 2022.

Becoming the CEO of Reunion Insurance

Dorothy’s journey to becoming the CEO of Reunion Insurance began with a twist of fate. After two decades in the insurance industry, her employer withdrew from the market, rendering her jobless. Undeterred, she mobilized colleagues, founding Reunion Insurance Company Limited in May 2005 and obtaining a license from the registrar of financial institutions in June 2005. Since then, Dorothy has been the major shareholder and the driving force behind the company.

As CEO, Dorothy oversees the company’s operations at both strategic and functional levels, acting as a crucial link between the Board of Governors and management. Her role is marked by industriousness, resilience, and a commitment to moving the company in the right direction.

Future Prospects: Diversification and Beyond

Reunion Insurance’s journey is far from over. Dorothy envisions a future marked by diversification, a strategic move to reduce reliance on a single class of business. With plans to expand the company’s presence in areas generating significant business, Dorothy sees potential in delving into agribusiness, complementing Malawi’s agro-based economy.

“The best is yet to come from the company with our youthful team and brilliant minds; the sky is no longer the limit; we are looking beyond the sky,” enthuses Dorothy.

Dorothy’s life is a tapestry woven with various roles—family woman, devoted church member, and insurance professional. Balancing these responsibilities requires meticulous planning and dedication. Her approach is rooted in dedication to achieving positive outcomes in every facet of her life, ensuring that none of her roles compromises the other.

Motivating Success Through Others

Dorothy attributes the success of Reunion Insurance to motivated employees and integral support systems in any enterprise. By adopting a participatory approach in both management and operations, the company ensures employees’ expectations are met, recognizing their pivotal role in business performance.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Dorothy shares invaluable insights. She acknowledges the challenges of startup ventures, particularly in a context where capital is scarce. However, she emphasizes the importance of having a vision, sticking to it despite challenges, and building the right networks. Confidence, hard work, perseverance, and strategic planning, according to Dorothy, are the cornerstones of entrepreneurship.

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