WATCH: We want to shape the future in a sustainable manner, says SwissRe India MD Amit Kalra

Swiss Re India’s Shine is a social innovation programme for entrepreneurs with ideas that can bring about change. In this video interview with YourStory Business Editor Vishal Krishna, SwissRe India MD Amit Kalra reveals why social entrepreneurship is important.

With technology set to disrupt insurance, a $5 trillion dollar industry, Swiss Re Group, one of the world's leading providers of reinsurance and insurance, is working to “make the world more resilient”. And for that, it is engaging with startups for innovation and social change.

Swiss Re India’s Shine, a social innovation programme, will soon be open to six to eight early-stage startups that can make a difference to society. Launched by Amit Kalra, who heads SwissRe’s India business unit, the programme is in its second year and leverages technology for social change. The idea is to bring about change with sustainable ideas.

In this video interview, Amit, Managing Director and Head, Global Business Services, SwissRe, talks about social entrepreneurship and how it can change the world.

VK: Tell us a little bit about SwissRe in India?

AK: A lot of changes have been happening in insurance. More from a value chain perspective than the business model perspective. It is about leveraging technology to stay relevant. Bengaluru has the third largest office in the world for SwissRe. We have 15,000 people globally, generating $37 billion in revenues, and India makes up 10 percent of that staff strength.

We are an analytics and business centre in India, and help our value chain globally in reinsurance and insurance, natural catastrophe modelling, underwriting, and risk management. We are in the business of paying claims, and have to understand the risks. So, we hire a lot of PhDs.

We follow a global SwissRe tech strategy, focusing on AI, data analytics, and others. There are five main centres, including Silicon Valley, Boston, Israel, China, and India. We have been able to make India a major tech centre for SwissRe.

VK: Shine is your social innovation programme. What can you tell us about it?

AK: Shine was launched in 2018 for social innovation. There are a lot of challenges here that needs to be solved from a society’s perspective. Shine enables a social entrepreneur to create a business out of an idea. Our employees work with a social entrepreneur for four months, and they understand the opportunities and business challenges. We looked at multiple themes such as healthcare and sanitation.

We picked an idea called PurePaani, which can bring affordable drinking water to low income families.

I realised the importance of social ideas when I went to Mongolia where I volunteered to set up an English school. I learnt the importance of empathy and why we need to focus on shaping the future in a sustainable manner.

VK: SwissRe also has its own India-specific startup programme. What is that about?

AK: Innovalue Exchange is our second programme and deals businesses. The theme is tech, including AI and machine learning, and how people can solve business problems. We don’t invite applications; we look at any startup that is solving problems and call them to be part of the programme. These chosen startups get mentorship and access to the SwissRe ecosystem.

Amit Kalra