Zimbabwean mobile communications leader Econet has been expanding into the insurance business, offering its nearly four million subscribers free life insurance policies for US$10,000 if they purchase enough monthly airtime.
The US$10,000 life insurance policy is offered to cellular subscribers who purchase US$11 a month in airtime for six months. Life insurance payoffs are smaller for lesser amounts of airtime purchased from the carrier.
The minimum monthly airtime package to qualify for a free insurance policy is three dollars.
Econet joined forces with insurer First Mutual Life in the promotional program earlier this month, subscribing 30,000 wireless customers in the first two days, according to company spokesman Rangarirai Mberi.
Mberi said many Zimbabweans are without life insurance due to the economic turmoil of recent years, adding that Econet and First Mutual hope to expand the marketing program to Zimbabweans living outside the country.
Harare business consultant Tineyi Matenga noted that in partnering with First Mutual, Econet stands to attract more customers and increase revenues, while First Mutual gains access to an advanced marketing tool and a competitive edge in the Zimbabwean market for insurance, which could grow fast on the back of an economic recovery.
But economist Rejoice Ngwenya voiced skepticism, saying that although Econet has large amounts of cash to put to work it should focus on its core business to maintain its competitive edge.