EP 69 – Michele Grosso and Mallika Uswachoke – Democrance – Providing Mutual Aid for those Who Need It Most


Michael Waitze has been podcasting with some of the best investors and business builders globally and discussing all things startup with them from an Asian perspective. Michael worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo. Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used successfully to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is quite skilled at connecting people and capital to innovative ideas and is a trusted advisor to both investors and founders. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, having pioneered the concept of a podcast network in Asia while building the biggest and fastest-growing listener base in the region. His flagship website, AsiaTechPodcast.com, has listeners in over 100 countries and is available on virtually every podcast player that supports RSS feeds.

Driven by the desire to restore insurance to its original purpose of providing mutual aid for those who need it most, but can afford it least, he founded Democrance in 2015. Prior to that, Michele worked in strategy and distribution at AXA and MetLife in France, Egypt and UAE. Michele holds a Master in Management / Grande Ecole,ESCP Europe in Paris and MSc in Economics, Turin University. He is also a graduate of Carlos III University in Madrid and City University in London. Michele is a frequent speaker and contributor to microinsurance, entrepreneurship & social innovation events worldwide.

Mallika is in charge of Strategic Development and Emerging Customers at Krungthai-AXA Life, Thailand.

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In this episode, Michael Waitze talks to Michele Grosso, the co-founder, and CEO of Democrance and Mallika Uswachoke, who is in charge of Strategic Development and Emerging Customers at Krungthai Axa Life Insurance in Thailand. Driven by the desire to restore insurance to its original purpose of providing mutual aid for those who need it most, but can afford it least, Michele founded micro-insurance startup Democrance in 2015. The InsurTech is based out of Dubai but operates in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In Thailand, Democrance has launched one of the first projects with French insurance group AXA

Selling micro-insurance has its own challenges. The target group often has low financial literacy and agent distribution might not be an option. Alternative forms of distribution become a key success factor. Michele shares insights on their recent project with Axa and international money transfer provider Hello Paisa. Hello Paisa specializes in family remittances by enabling overseas workers to send money home to their families in developing countries. This is where Democrance can make a difference and provide protection to these workers as their families back home often depend on regular remittances. Find more information on the program and their partnership with AXA here

In Thailand, Democrance and Krungthai Axa have launched a micro-insurance product with Thai telco operator AIS. Clients of AIS can get free accident protection when they regularly top-up their pre-paid sim cards. The idea behind the concept is to introduce insurance to people who have never bought financial products before. By giving them free micro-insurance coverage they are able to experience the product themselves and learn about financial products and AXA along the way. By discovering the benefits first hand, some might be encouraged to buy additional financial protection for their families. The benefit for AIS is an increase in customer stickiness and loyalty. 

Interested to learn more about AXA and their partnerships with startups? Listen to this episode with Thibault Demoures, the Asia Head for health solutions development at Axa Partners in a panel conversation with startup partner DocDoc.

This episode was expertly edited and produced by the talented Alanis Braun.

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