Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) reinforced its commitment to corporate governance during 2012, with the adoption and implementation of key policies aimed at guaranteeing the Group’s sustainability and safeguarding it against business risks. These policies will further ensure that we use resources efficiently while remaining accountable to all our stakeholders to this end, Botswana Insurance Fund Management (Bifm) has adopted a Combined Assurance Model (CAM) which complies with principle 3.5 of the King III Code on Corporate Governance. Botswana Life Insurance Limited reviewed its CAM, which was introduced the previous year, and BIHL Sure! CAM is scheduled to adopt the model in the 2013 financial period.

The BIHL Group Risk Assurance Framework, approved by the Board during the period under review, includes our risk management policy and plan, risk framework, and the maturity model and risk escalation policy. In addition, it defines several risks facing the business and ensures that risks are identified, assessed, mitigated, monitored and communicated effectively. The BIHL Group Compliance Policy and Charter governs the conduct of employees, promoting accountability and regulatory compliance.

We participate in international efforts to combat money laundering and the funding of terrorist and criminal activities. For this reason, we have adopted the BIHL Group Anti-Money Laundering and the Countering of the Financing of Terrorism (AML and CFT) Policy. We are committed to combating all unlawful conduct, but due to the nature of our business, we are also specifically opposed to financial crime within the Group. The BIHL Group Financial Crime Combating Policy recognises our zero-tolerance approach and contains a schedule of offences.

A key concern and area of focus for the Group in 2012 was mitigating against insider trading, which is a major issue for listed companies the world over. In response, BHIL has adopted, among other policies, the PA Trading Policy. During the period under review, efforts were channelled towards ensuring improved Group-wide understanding of this business risk and the policies we have in place to combat the practice.

Our anonymous anti-corruption tip-off line complements our efforts to fight and prevention all forms of corruption throughout our businesses. This allows our stakeholders, including employees and service providers, to report any suspected criminal activities and bring issues of concern to management’s urgent attention. The line is monitored by an independent service provider based in South Africa. The company was set up by auditing firm Deloitte and is used by a number of leading listed entities. Our BIHL Business Continuity Policy sets out oversight mechanisms and ensures the BIHL Group is able to recover as swiftly as possible from a significant unforeseen event.

Staff participation

BIHL believes that education is the key to success, so when the Adopt A School Initiative became a project under the BIHL Trust, it was apparent how excited the BIHL Group Staff became. Adopt A School Initiative is a project that the BIHL Trust is in partnership with Sebilo Books Services. The BIHL Trust has undertaken to adopt non performing primary schools throughout the country and developing libraries as an aid to enhance learning, encourage the kids to take a keener interest in reading and create a culture of reading from an early age, so that when the kids get to high school they have developed the love of reading.

BIHL Group Staff rolled their sleeves and picked up painting brushes to assist in getting the library for Tshwaragano Primary School in Old Naledi, Gaborone. The BIHL Staff was enthusiastic and wanted to ensure that the library came out perfectly for the kids. BIHL Trust has committed P350,000 to developing libraries in seven villages throughout the country where there are BIHL branches.

Corporate Social Investment

Good corporate governance must seek to balance both financial and social goals. As a business, we have a responsibility not only to our shareholders, but also to the communities we serve. Since 2007, BIHL has been allocating 1% of the Group’s post-tax profits to its social responsibility activities. The period under review served as a time for reflection for BIHL, as we considered corporate social investment (CSI) projects which would enable us to make a significant and meaningful impact in the communities in which we operate. We are continuously aware of our obligation to make a meaningful contribution to the growth and development of our country, and the improvement of the lives of Batswana.

Previously the BIHL Trust, which houses these initiatives, preferred prospective recipients to submit funding proposals with motivations for our involvement. It has become evident that many deserving organisations and individuals are unable to compile and submit such proposals. "We are thus developing a mechanism that will enable us to operate at a grassroots level in order to identify worthy projects that meet our sustainability criteria. Our goal, ultimately, is to support projects that assist communities and individuals to empower themselves and to become self-supporting".

In 2012, the BIHL Trust’s focus was on education. During this time we launched the BIHL Thomas Tlou Scholarship. This initiative gives Batswana citizens in possession of a first degree an opportunity to further their education, thus deepening the country’s skills base. The comprehensive scholarship recognises the late Professor Thomas Tlou, a proud Motswana who was a respected academic and historian, as well as Botswana’s first representative to the United Nations. The first two students to benefit from this fund are pursuing Masters degrees at the University of Botswana and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

We continued to support the Maru-a-Pula School’s Orphan and Vulnerable Children Scholarships Fund. This organisation does sterling work in enabling some of the most vulnerable members of society to access opportunities. We aim to provide primary school pupils with libraries offering quality reading material. By constructing libraries, we hope to nurture a love of learning and enable greater comprehension in secondary school education.

Employee health and development

BIHL recognises the importance of having properly skilled employees who are adequately equipped to carry out their responsibilities and deliver exceptional customer service. In line with our objective to be the leading financial services company in Botswana and a preferred employer, we have improved our investment in educating our employees and, in particular, developing our leadership pipeline. We are proud to report that several of our senior managers were part of the University of Stellenbosch’s Senior Management Programme.

This leadership development programme will bolster our talent pool and skills base, and assists in retaining critical skills. The health and well-being of our employees continues to be of paramount importance. To this end, we are continuously assessing the impact and effectiveness of our HIV and AIDS programmes. These programmes aim to raise awareness about the disease in order to mitigate its impact. We are also investing in a comprehensive wellness programme that addresses the needs of our employees in a holistic manner.

2012 marked the first year in which BIHL took part in the Gaborone Steinmetz Marathon. Already, nearly half of our 300 employees across the Group have participated in this annual event, demonstrating the effectiveness and relevance of this investment for staff morale and wellness. To remain both commercially viable and socially relevant, it is important that we remain conscious of the impact our activities, particularly on the property development side, have on the environment. We are committed to conducting proper due diligence with all our projects in addition to adopting environmentally considerate green initiatives that focus on energy saving.