An award is something that denotes an accomplishment, a prize or honour based on merit.
Globally there are organizations that rate and grade companies based on their meeting certain criteria, and these are ratings accepted globally and which are used to base decisions on when international players want to look into a company.
Every year, companies are awarded in Kenya in various sectors of the economy so that members of the public can get informed of the companies that are excelling in the sector and thus arrive at a favorable decision that will have removed unfavourable variables. That is why some companies will do anything to get recognition and an award, whether they deserve it or not. In the end, where awards given do not merit the awardee, then the awards lose their meaning and lustre and impact negatively on the particular sector.
In the insurance industry, this has been especially important because of the very nature of insurance, a sector that depends on reputation to survive. Any good word is important for the players and reflects on the bottom line.
An organisation of agents in the insurance industry, Bima Intermediaries Association of Kenya, has taken it upon themselves to do this very important task of awarding excellence in the sector, and by awarding all the players in the industry, including insurance companies, agents and garages. This has quietly been going on for the last two years, and this year will see them do it again today.
Insurance agents are especially suited for the task, considering they are so many in number, over 8,000, and their ability to interact with the players in the industry in a very intimate way. They will tell you secrets in the sector only they know.
It therefore says a lot when this lot awards, as they will be doing this based on knowledge and not heresy. Who better to award a player in the sector than the stakeholders themselves?
The awards have really been appreciated by some, and shunned by others. And that is why not all sector players participate in them. Indeed, there has been some bad blood between some sector players and insurance agents, especially insurance companies, who feel it is beneath them to participate in awards organized by agents. There are also some companies that mistreat agents or short change them, and who feel they will not get a fair judgment in the awards.
There is also the other lot who will not miss an opportunity to participate in the awards because they feel comfortable in their relationship with agents, and to them there is no greater honour than to be awarded by the people who feed them, the thousands who pass through their doors every day. And to them, the ultimate prize is the one they get at the end of each year.
Awards are important when they reflect the industry and when the sector players themselves do them. The various sectors in the economy, and especially the financial sector should move away from these businessmen giving out awards to the highest bidder if the awards are to carry the weight of the paper they are written on. Otherwise this will just be an exercise in futility and which with time will rebound negatively in the industry.
Washington Ndegea is the chairman of the Bima Intermediaries Association of Kenya