VimoSEWA celebrates 30 years of insuring women workers in the informal sector

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Ahmedabad, September 24: The National Insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative Ltd, India’s only multi-state insurance co-operative, celebrated 30 years of insuring women workers of the informal economy and their families. Starting in 1992 as a unit in SEWA Bank, VimoSEWA developed into a full-fledged cooperative in 2009, with women as share-holders, policy-holders and managers. Currently, 5029 women from 5 states–Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan-are individual shareholders.11 membership-based organizations of the SEWA movement are institutional shareholders.

300 women workers along with the board and partners attended the celebration held at the Ahmedabad Management Association to mark VimoSEWA’s three-decade long journey.

VimoSEWA currently serves 1,00,000 women in 14 states along with 25 cooperatives, NGOs and other civil society organisations. During this period, it has issued 10 lakh policies to women workers and concrete economic benefits of Rs 26 Crores was given to women and their family members by way of claims..

Speaking at the celebration, Mirai Chatterjee, Director, SEWA Social Security and Founding Board Member, VimoSEWA said, “In the early years of VimoSEWA, we hardly imagined that we would be able to reach lakhs of women across the country with financial and social protection. It has been a journey rich with lessons of how to reach the poor, and especially the hard-working women of our country. We have not only learned that informal women workers are insurable, but also that such risk coverage is essential for women’s economic empowerment and self-reliance.”

Jayshreeben Vyas, Managing Director, SEWA Bank spoke about how insurance is a critical part of financial inclusion and needs to be incorporated in all financial services for women. She mentioned the importance of financial literacy and insurance education, and at all stages in women’s life-cycle.

Speaking of her own journey from being a garment worker to VimoSEWA’s Chairperson, Asha Ajmeri said “Our core values of solidarity, self-help and financial sustainability have helped us grow. Our members trust in us has also grown over the years. I was an informal worker managing to earn about Rs 4000 a month as a garment worker. Today I earn five times as much as a Vimo aagewan or insurance promoter. My life has changed forever. And I am glad that I am able to support other women like myself in their journey to self-reliance. “

Finally, Ruchi Agarwal, CEO of VimoSEWA explained that the organisations is doing all it can to live up to its motto of “VimoSEWA ka Haath Sankat me de Saath” —VimoSEWA supports all during crisis. She said, “VimoSEWA is expanding its reach and services with the help of digital technology. It has developed an app and many of its operations are now online. Women have adapted well to digital technology. This happened during the COVID-19 pandemic and we are building on lessons learned to digitise further.”

Milestones achieved by VimoSEWA
 1992 VimoSEWA was started as a unit in SEWA Bank, Ahmedabad
 1999 An independent insurance unit, VimoSEWA, was established to provide social security coverage to SEWA members
2000 VimoSEWA begain serving partner organizations across India with micro-insurance s
 2009 India’s first women-owned and women-run multi-state insurance cooperative was registered:  the National Insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative Ltd.
2012 The government of Namibia invited VimoSEWA to help in developing its national social security program. This led to an invitation from the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, to implement SEWA’s integrated approach in 5 African countries.
2013 Attained financial sustainability as a standalone, full service, micro-insurance distribution model. Received award of excellence from XLRI and NABARD for developing a wage-loss mutual product and other innovations in the micro-insurance sector
2017 A feasibility study was conducted to explore the potential of becoming a standalone micro-insurance entity.
2020 VimoSEWA actively participated in three committees of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to recommend expansion of insurance to low income families in India, and especially to examine the feasibility of standalone micro-insurance entities aimed at the low income segment of the population. Initiated digital insurance services during the COVID-19 pandemic which are expanding currently.

About National Insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative Ltd:

National Insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative Ltd. is an insurance co-operative, aims to provide financial protection to the self-employed women workers and their families. We got registered in 2009 under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002 with the Department of Agriculture and Cooperative, Ministry of Agriculture (GoI).

Our core values of Solidarity, Self-Help and Financial Sustainability, envision for a space where the members are able to attain the trust in the organization and align with its motto of “VimoSEWA ka Haath Sankat me de Saath” which roughly means that the VimoSEWA will be supporting each member in any kind of unforeseen crisis and unprecedented risk.

We at VimoSEWA do not only focus on Insurance services but also work towards member education and awareness about various aspects of social security and financial risk management.

VimoSEWA members are also integrated into much wider SEWA movement. The members have access to a wide range of services that are available through SEWA’s different sister organisations.

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