The Swedish insurance company BIMA and the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), officially partnered to increase transparency in business practices, signing a memorandum of understanding at ACU headquarters on Monday August 7 2017. BIMA is the largest life-insurance provider in Cambodia, where corrupt practices make up everyday life. To disassemble Cambodia’s culture of corruption the private sector must be a part of the cooperation.
Moving towards progress
This culture of corruption is a significant impediment to business and national growth, with many organizations accepting corruption as a necessary evil to achieve an end. As a result, Cambodia ranks at the bottom of ASEAN countries in corruption, and 156th out of 176 countries according to two recent Transparency International reports.
BIMA has an international reputation of transparency across the 14 countries where it operates, having rolled out ethical practices as a core part of its culture. BIMA chose to step forward to emphasize its continued commitment to best practices, and to encourage other industry leaders to follow its decision. Making this agreement an official act is part of BIMA’s initiative to promote the highest professional standards in the private sector and to demonstrate that it is indeed possible to operate without engaging in corruption.
No-tolerance to corruption policy: Win-win-win solutions
This no-tolerance policy to corruption has always been BIMA’s motto. BIMA truly believes that any possible setback in the short run for adopting such a policy has largely paid off in the long run and improved its business outcome in Cambodia. Commitment to transparency drives the quality of customer service. “Corruption and non-transparent practices in any business can lead to distrust from the perspective of both consumers as well as potential investors. Being transparent and adopting completely fair and open business practices always leads to win-win-win solutions in the long term – for the end-consumer, for the service provider and for the country as a whole.” said Tapas Kuila, Country Manager at BIMA Cambodia.
Preap Kol, Executive Director of Transparency International Cambodia, said firms that sign the MoU stand to benefit from closer ties with the ACU, which can provide additional protection and prevent corrupt officials from extorting money from these businesses. “The companies send a message to the public that they cannot commit corrupt acts, meaning that corrupt officials who used to ask for money earlier cannot do it anymore,” Kol said.
Corruption in business practices can be seen as a short versus long term trade-off, but in the end hurts everyone. The four companies partnering today, including BIMA, are refusing to climb a mountain with pebbles in their shoes.
Partnered companies will not engage in corrupt acts and will report any solicitation of corruption to the ACU for investigation. Any evidence submitted will launch an investigation by the ACU. BIMA is also taking a proactive approach by launching internal education campaigns to promote ethical engagement with government officials, suppliers, customers, and other independent organizations or individuals.
BIMA is a ground-breaking Swedish company that uses mobile technology to deliver affordable and easy-to-use insurance and health products that emerging market consumers need but cannot access through traditional channels.
BIMA has revolutionized the insurance industry in emerging markets, already reaching 30 million subscribers globally. BIMA continues to work with strategic partners to offer new products and reach under-served families. 93% of its customers live on less than 10 USD per day and over three quarters access insurance for the first time.
BIMA started operations in Cambodia in 2014 in partnership with Smart, becoming the largest life-insurance provider in less than one year and currently protecting more than 600,000 households. BIMA’s digital approach, shown by their focus on administering claims in a “paperless” fashion, underpins their push towards transparent methods of operation and this partnership with ACU.