In September 2015, the world leaders met at a United Nations Summit in New York to finalize the future development path for nations throughout the world.
They came up with what was termed the Sustainable Development Goals, which recognized that ending poverty must go hand in hand with strategies that build on economic growth and also address a range of social needs while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
Just a year later, Farzana Chowdhury, a leading business executive of Bangladesh and Managing Director and CEO of Green Delta Insurance Company (GDIC), was announced one of ten 2016 Local SDG Pioneers at UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2016 held in New York.
Ms. Chowdhury was recognised for her efforts in pioneering 'Nibedita-Comprehensive Insurance Scheme' that aligns with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on Gender Equality.
A year since that glorious achievement, Farzana Chowdhury shared her views with the FE on how business entities, especially insurance companies can help in achieving the SDGs by bringing a wide range of insurance products to the poor.
"Private sector, especially the insurance sector can play a fundamental role in achieving the SDGs. And now is the best time to mobilise business community to make the world and surrounding better", Chowdhury told the FE.
"For example, our company is now designing a wide range of insurance schemes targeting the insurance needs of women, youth, agriculture, climate change and SMEs. Each of these schemes will help the country to achieve a range of SDGs", she added.
"We want Bangladesh not only to be an SDG pioneer but also an SDG achiever", Ms Chowdhury said.
Nibedita, which brought Green Delta the global recognition, is a comprehensive insurance scheme for women. According to officials, Nibedita is the first female insurance product in South East Asia.
"Living in a male dominated society, it's often a challenge for women to live independently and be empowered. This is where Nibedita stepped in", she said.
"Nibedita works as a support partner for women to help them reach their goals in society, workplace or family. This insurance product is the risk bearer for women from all walks of life", she added.
"More than 52 percent of our total population consists of women. So, a product like this was only a demand of time and Green Delta launched it addressing the national issue", she added further.
GDIC was incorporated in December 14, 1985 as a public limited company and its operation started on 1st January 1986 with a paid up capital of BDT 30.00 million.
Now, Green Delta Insurance has amassed more than BDT 807 million with a credit rating of AAA and ST1 as the first Insurance Company in Bangladesh.
Green Delta is also the first Insurance Company in Bangladesh to have equity partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC) of World Bank Group.
With a presence in the strategically important parts of the country, which includes 40 branches, Green Delta Insurance Company has established its prominent presence with equity participation in Delta BRAC Housing Ltd., Progressive Life Insurance Co Ltd, United Hospital Ltd. FinExcel Ltd. and BD Venture Ltd. Green Delta Capital Ltd., Green Delta Securities Ltd., Professional Advancement Bangladesh Limited and GD Assist Limited are four of the direct subsidiaries.
GDIC also provides stock brokerage services through Green Delta Securities Ltd. (GDSL) and Investment Banking services through Green Delta Capital Ltd. (GDCL).
Professional Advancement Bangladesh Limited provides international standard professional trainings in collaboration with CII, UK while GD Assist Limited is the One Stop Healthcare Solution provider providing value added services to the healthcare industry of Bangladesh.
Citing examples of how Green Delta is working to implement various SDG goals for the country, she said that her company is engaging with IFC to provide the services for development and deployment of insurance products to address weather-related risks faced by both lenders and farmers in Bangladesh.
"It will also strengthen technical and financial capability to administer the insurance products that will eventually help remove the constraints of credit expansion to Farmers", she said.
In addition, to take insurance services to the doorsteps of rural areas, Green Delta Insurance Company Limited and Access to Information (A2I) programme of the Prime Minister's Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding, through which, Green Delta Insurance will provide Insurance Services from the Union Digital Centers all over the country.
Apart from that, Green Delta Insurance introduced Probashi, a comprehensive insurance scheme for the Bangladeshi migrant Workers all over the world. It gives accidental coverage as well as some extended coverage to the migrant workers.
"Green Delta believes that these people work hard to keep the economy of our country stable and it is important to safeguard their future from uncertainties", Chowdhury said.
" This product offers some significant areas of coverage including accidental death, bodily injury due to accident causing permanent or partial disability and bodily injury due to riot and strike", she added.
Green Delta Insurance is also the first non-life Insurance Company from Bangladesh to introduce the retail insurance department. The department was created with the motto 'Insurance for Everyone'.
"The main products that the retail insurance department sells are Motor Insurance, Overseas Mediclaim Insurance, Personal accident insurance, People's personal accident policy, Health Insurance, All risk insurance and Nibedita- Comprehensive Insurance scheme for women", the Green Delta CEO said.
"There are few other projects under Retail and SME, including Niramoy micro insurance for rural people, Shudin micro insurance for garments workers, Weather index based Crop Insurance", she added.
Recently, the government has taken up an initiative to provide health insurance to the people who are living below the poverty line.
Highlighting the steps taken by her to align with the government vision, Chowdhury mentioned that her company is the scheme operator for the 'Shashtha Suroksha Karmashuchi' (SSK) project of Health Economics Unit under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
"Green Delta is also eyeing the scope of digital insurance and has initiated online payments services to make the payment methods easier and have built up a strong IT infrastructure to be aligned with government's recent approaches towards a more digitalized and greener future", she added.
"We are a nation of more than 160 million people. However, the bulk of the population remains beyond the umbrella of insurance coverage", Chowdhury said.
"This means that there are immense scopes for bringing insurance products designed for all segments of the society including the rural people", she said, adding, "The key issue however, in this case, is to raise awareness about the benefit of insurance".