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World-first entrepreneurship competition after young talent

Ever considered being an insurance entrepreneur?

JOHANNESBURG – Hannover Re is betting money on the fact that the next big idea in reinsurance will come from a twenty-something who may never have heard of the term. The third-largest reinsurance company in the world, Hannover Re wants to create innovative business models for reinsurance – and is funding an international entrepreneurship competition called Journey Re to do it.

Johannesburg is one of only four cities globally where fresh talent will be given the opportunity to develop ideas for doing reinsurance differently. Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies. Insurers put this cover in place to share their risk exposures with even larger organisations, known as reinsurers.

Berlin, Boston and Dublin are the other cities taking part in this world-first entrepreneurship competition.

The idea for Journey Re was birthed at a global meeting of Hannover Re executives in 2015. “Hannover Re turns 50 this year and yet we still consider ourselves ‘the new kid on the block’,” says Achim Klennert, the German-born CEO of Hannover Re Africa.

It may be because its closest rivals, Munich Re and Swiss Re, are both well over 100 years old.

Notwithstanding, the prospect of its 50th birthday seemed to prompt the question among top management: ‘If Hannover Re started today, what would it look like?’

And Journey Re was born.

The competition is for young professionals, graduates and students. Ideal candidates will be in their 20s and from outside the insurance industry altogether.

“We want raw talent that has not yet been brainwashed by the insurance and reinsurance industries,” quips Klennert, in a customarily honest manner.

The announcement of Journey Re comes in the first ever Insurance Careers Month, where heavyweight insurance company CEOs from around the world have called on young people to choose insurance as a career.

The South African leg of Journey Re will launch at the end of March at an event in Johannesburg headlined by entrepreneur and former CEO of FNB, Michael Jordaan. Individuals wishing to attend the launch can apply to do so via the Journey Re website, where they will have to provide a brief CV and a short motivation as to why they should be invited.

Although applicants don’t have to attend the event to enter the competition, it will offer a valuable networking opportunity and provide information on what Journey Re is all about.

The application deadline for the Journey Re competition is May 2016. Between 20 and 25 people will be selected from the group of applicants and invited to a weekend workshop in Johannesburg. From there, six individuals will be chosen and divided into two teams of three. These individuals will then be flown to Hanover, Germany for a week in July where they will receive a week of specialised insurance and reinsurance training.

They will then spend six months working in their team of three in their home city. From July to December, Hannover Re will pay them “an attractive [monthly] compensation for their time and effort,” the company says. The teams will also be given office premises and a budget to develop their ideas.

Participants will receive recommendation letters signed by the global CEO of Hannover Re once the competition ends. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Germany in December. The winning team will receive a cash prize of €50 000 and the team in second place will receive €20 000 in prize money.

“First prize for us [Hannover Re] would be to start a reinsurance company with the winning idea and team,” says Klennert. “It might be that a team comes up with a smaller innovation that Hannover Re can incorporate into its business to generate reinsurance premium,” he adds.

“This is the biggest project of this kind that we have ever done,” says Klennert.

Visit to find out more.

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