Africa | September 24, 2020

Reinsurance firm Africa Specialty Risk Group launches with backing from Helios

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, September 24 – Reinsurance firm Africa Specialty Risk Group launches with backing from Helios. Africa Specialty Risk Group, or ASR, will offer reinsurance—insurance for insurers—to encourage new business and investment activity for Africa’s COVID recovery. 

Insurance, critical to business and investment activity, is supported by insurers’ ability to mitigate their own risks through reinsurance. Insurance penetration in Africa is low, and reinsurance options are typically provided by global firms like Axa or Munich Re. When COVID hit, that limited presence dwindled, observed Helios’ Souleymane Ba.

Africa-focused private equity firm Helios backed ASR’s launch from its fourth fund. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

ASR aims to be a sustainability-focused reinsurance firm, “using Africa-specific pricing models coupled with a deep understanding of African risk and cultural environments,” according to a statement. The company, led by former executives from AXA Africa Specialty Risks and South Africa-based Old Mutual, says it will incorporate environmental, social and governance, or ESG, considerations across its business and will build capacity for local underwriters. 

The ESG emphasis aligns with Helios’ investment thesis as an impact-focused private equity firm (and B Corp.)

ASR’s focus on ESG and sustainability could also significantly mitigate risks: globally, mainstream reinsurance firms are getting battered by climate impacts.