Monday, May 30, 2016

‘Outstanding’ Gambian Insurer, Henry Jawo, Retires

The Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG) last week bade farewell to retiring insurance professional Henry M. Jawo who has been hailed as “outstanding”.

Mr. Jawo retires as secretary general at the permanent secretariat of the IAG where he has been working from 2000 to 2016. 

A trained-teacher for 15 years and a former school headmaster, Jawo joined the insurance industry in The Gambia in 1985 when he was appointed branch supervisor at Senegambia Insurance Company.

 “Mr. Jawo’s service in the insurance industry has been outstanding. He [is] a hero, a mentor and an exemplary leader,” Fatou Jallow, country manager of Enterprise Life Assurance Company (ELAC), said when she read a citation of the man.

Jawo took up appointment with the IAG secretariat in 2000 as secretary general and head of the Brown Card Insurance Scheme at a time when the position was considered “not very attractive”.

“He weathered the storm by transforming the secretariat and the National Bureau into a permanent general secretariat and made them relevant institutions to the admiration of many,” Ms. Jallow said during a farewell cocktail reception held at a hotel in Bakau on May 27, 2016.

The IAG is the first industry association with a permanent secretariat in The Gambia and that record was achieved under his term as secretary general of the institution.

Ms. Jallow said: “As a leader, father figure and unifier, Mr. Jawo had inspired and empowered many in the industry and was very instrumental in bringing up the industry captains together as one successful family.”

Not only did Mr. Jawo make his mark in The Gambia but also in the regional arena.  He had served as an executive committee member of the Ecowas Brown Card Scheme for two terms from 2009 to 2015.

She said Jawo’s personality and positive contributions at the level of the Council of Bureaux of Brown Card made The Gambia a highly respectable country by both Francophone and Anglophone countries of the scheme.

Makaira Badjan, vice president of the IAG, said the IAG secretariat and the National Bureau of the Brown Card are manned by people groomed and trained by Mr. Jawo.

He noted that Jawo is very passionate about the insurance profession and the growth of the industry. 

“We want you to know that we will continue to really count on your wisdom and continued guidance to move the insurance industry to higher heights,” he said.

Pa Alieu Sillah, commissioner of insurance at the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG), said no good thing is achieved too easily and Mr. Jawo has attained a lot of good things for the IAG secretariat and the Gambia insurance industry as a whole.

“His contribution has made the relation with the CBG and the [insurance] industry rosy because he had involved us in all the activities of the secretariat – big or small,” Sillah said.

When he took his turn, Mr. Henry M. Jawo described his coming into the insurance industry as “an accident”.

He said: “I had no plans whatsoever to work in the insurance industry; I was a trained teacher and I taught for 15 years. 

“I got frustrated at one particular stage in my teaching career and that was when I wanted to improve my professional competence but I was not given the chance for various reasons.  The frustration led to my resignation though I had no plans to resign at the time.

“I owe gratitude to all the people that I have worked with in the insurance industry, without them I would not have achieved what I achieved.”

He announced that he will offer his services to the IAG secretariat “until when I am unable”.

Saihou Samba, the successor of Mr. Jawo as the head of the National Bureau of Brown Card Scheme, said throughout Mr. Jawo’s work with the IAG and the national bureau, there was no single project or initiative that the secretariat failed in executing.

“He always says ‘I do not have the word failure in my dictionary’,” Mr Samba said, adding, “There is no way that his replacement will match his level of experience”.

Ms. Jallow, who read the citation on Jawo, concluded that “one cannot narrate all the positive things about Mr. Jawo but it will suffice to say that he has worked tirelessly and pursued goals that serve the interest of the entire insurance fraternity in The Gambia and the sub region.”

Written by Modou S. Joof

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  • This story appeared on The Voice newspaper on June 10, 2016.

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