Relating to a Story

We found a common thread between everyone we talked with in Tanzania: Everyone has a story about their last hospital experience, and it’s an emotional one. Stories of walking five kilometers with a sick child on their back, or calling all their friends and family to cover expenses for a mother’s illness were raw, real, and detailed. However, none of this emotion carried over in the way health insurance was presented to customers. Instead, we observed individuals exasperated trying to read a confusing chart with too many options.

  • “I know people with health insurance are treated better at the hospital, but that is for people with a lot of money.”
-- Farmer in Mbeya

Family Plans

The Tanzanians we talked to trust and take care of their families. Households extend beyond nuclear families and often include adult siblings and older parents. Even if someone considered themselves an independent individual, at the end of the day, families take care of each other when emergency support is needed.

“I identify with the individual [insurance plan]... but if I had to buy one, it’d definitely be the family one. I have to cover my mom and dad. ”
—Market Vendor, Dar es Salaam

“I didn’t register because I needed to take care of my wife and child.”

-- Informal worker, Dar es Salaam

Supplying the right information

We observed that the current sales structure treated health insurance as a point-of-sales purchase. But, potential customers were approached by a group of “foot soldiers” (sales people) with no warning, and generally had no experience considering a health insurance purchase. Potential customers had lots of questions, but the foot soldiers didn’t have the personal experience to help answer them. Potential customers needed time and information to process the decision and pull together the money.

“I like it, but I need to go home and talk to my wife before I buy it.” - Potential customer, Dar es Salaam

“No, I don’t have the insurance myself. Customers always ask me if I do, but I just lie.” --bimaAFYA foot soldier

Moments of Consideration

The initial launch of the bimaAFYA product saw huge dropoff between registration and payment. Our in-field observations brought to life a few difficulties in user experience: First, people were expected to pay within 24 hours, and they didn’t always have mobile money in their wallets; secondly, in order to pay, they had to exit the bimaAFYA USSD menu and move to the M-PESA menu to pay separately! We found opportunity to design around these friction points.

“I don’t have any money in my mobile account now, but could pay next week.” - bimaAFYA Potential Customer

“I like the option to pay with mobile money because that means I can buy it whenever and wherever I want.” --bimaAFYA Potential Customer

Beyond Transactions

How might we create an improved mobile health insurance offering and experience for low-income Tanzanians?

As the Agents of Today and Tomorrow help low-income customers migrate to and use mobile money, we’re excited to build an ecosystem of compelling offerings for customers. From saving for a child’s school fees in a mobile wallet to getting a loan on your phone to expand your business, the customer will be able to find a product that meets their needs. And Agents can play a supporting role here as guides, coaches, and influencers.

In Tanzania, we worked on one such offering: we partnered with Edgepoint Technology on a mobile micro-health insurance for the poor, called BimaAFYA. Today, when health emergencies arise, the poor struggle to pay expensive hospital costs and too often this leads to disastrous financial consequences.

In early 2015, Edgepoint ran a beta test of micro-insurance product bimaAFYA. The early results indicated high levels of interest from customers, but limited willingness to pay and low retention rates. We at partnered with them to work on registration, payment, and churn.

Human-Centered Design helped transform every aspect of the product: how the insurance plan was structured, how it was communicated—especially to people who were new to insurance—, distribution strategy, mobile product UX. And now BimaAFYA is ready to relaunch! Vodacom and Edgepoint are incorporating the new customer-centered designs for a pilot in the Tanzanian market in late 2016.


Imagine if you could immediately understand “health insurance.”

The concept of “insurance” is inaccessible to many low-income customers. Understanding how it works is confusing, and most marketing materials are full of charts, tables, and jargon.

We highlighted stories, not features.

By leading with a personal story as the first introduction into bimaAFYA, we changed the discourse from “health insurance isn’t for me” to “that has happened to me.” Helping a person see herself in a situation where insurance can really help shifts people to move from just being aware of the product to actually considering purchase.

Photos of Relatable People

In lieu of stock photos, we featured images of people and environments portrayed in a healthy, relatable way.

Clear and Simple Language

Since most people are unfamiliar with health insurance, it’s important to communicate to the lowest common denominator by keeping words to a minimum and avoiding jargon.


When pronounced, the former “bimaAFYA” name literally meant “health insurance,” resulting in low stickiness of product.


With a new look and feel, we communicated an insurance product that is friendly, approachable, and aspirational. We updated the brand with welcoming colors and plays on recognized health symbols.


Imagine if you could cover all of your loved ones.

The original product covered only individuals, with no cost benefit for adding direct dependents. But many Tanzanians think—and act—communally, not individually.

We designed options for families, not just individuals.

When it comes to healthcare, people prioritize taking care of their loved ones. Family plans allow them to fill that need. Spouses, children, and mothers were among the top family members to include in the plans.

We tailored coverage options to minimize decision fatigue.

Choosing the right health insurance is tough, and too many options results in stagnation. Presenting only the best options increases the likelihood of successful use of the product.

Clear, Simple Options

Instead of complicated tables, we rounded numbers to the nearest hundred and made the recommended option clear.

Option to Add 1-3 Family Members

We adjusted plans so that people could include immediate and extended family members of any age, including dependents, spouses, and parents.

3- and 6-month Packages

The packages should last long enough to demonstrate value, but stay in a price range that’s still accessible for customers.

Convey Long Term Coverage

People aspire to long-term, year-long coverage, but most can’t afford it. Positioning the product as a full year of insurance paid quarterly or bi-annually keeps both price and coverage desirable and accessible.


Imagine if making a decision was a personal conversation, however and whenever it worked best for you.

We designed moments to help customers make decisions.

Health insurance isn’t an on-the-spot purchase; it takes time for families to decide whether or not to register. We built in time in the product cycle for customers to truly consider whether insurance is right for them.

We created a network of distribution channels to optimize for convenience, cost, and trust.

Call centers, community leaders, Super Wakalas, and Community leaders are essential to supporting the decision-making of the customer.

Explicit Touchpoints

We designed explicit touchpoints across the the customer journey to support decisionmaking.

Sales Buy-In

People selling the product need to understand its value and ideally have the product themselves in order to build trust with customers.

Quality Control

We’re able to measure and assess the effectiveness and accuracy of the different distribution channels by building in measurement tools from the beginning.

Data Capture

We began collecting all phone numbers dialling to the bimaAFYA USSD menu as warm-leads, and will use predictive analytics to identify most-likely customers to target.


Imagine if buying and renewing were seamless.

We simplified the steps to payment.

We front-loaded the biggest the biggest barriers to registration (e.g. in-network hospital names) by making the information accessible from the beginning.

Answer Questions

We designed explicit touchpoints across the the customer journey to support decisionmaking.

M-Pesa Integration

Minimizing the number of USSD menus the customer has to engage with creates a more seamless experience.

Easy Fixes

Because mistakes happen, we need to be on hand and ready to help with call center support.

Data Capture

We can pre-identify potential drop-off points by building a simple customer relationship management system.

Road Map

The revised bimaAFYA product is going to market! Here’s the path to get to a pilot launch in September.

Business Case Finalization

Developing the explicit business case to get Vodacom to sign off on the product.

Techstars Accelerator Training

Edgepoint was awarded a coveted spot in the Cape Town Techstars accelerator. They are taking our revised design and go-to-market strategy and iterating with a team of experts this spring.

Piloting Cost Structure

Edgepoint is separating out the explicit costs needed for the relaunch of the product, from the ongoing cost of running the product.

Overall Business Case

For final partnership approval, Edgepoint is outlining the anticipated scale of the product not just in pilot phase but also at scale. Key pieces are customer acquisition costs, renewal rates, and anticipated customer size and growth.

Partnership Agreements

Jubilee Insurance, Vodacom M-Pesa, and Edgepoint will take a look at the business case, and make the final agreements!

Product Relaunch

The product will have a staggered re-launch in order to allow for quick iteration as it is introduced in markets.

Define Pilot Scope

Key metrics and learning goals need to be outlined and clarified for the pilot, as well as locations and pace agreed upon.

Key Staff Hired

A set of project managers, trainers, and technical developers need to be brought on board.

Build It Out

The minimal viable products for hospital acquisition, agent training, call centers, UX, etc. all need to be in place before roll-out.

Scale It

After launching in key pilot markets (Arusha, Mwanza, Mbeya, Dar), the product is to go out to every Tanzanian!

Unit Economics

To scale, the unit economics must be exactly right! Estimates and careful watch will be there to understand which distribution strategies are sustainable.

Careful Data Watch with CRM

Communication with customers will be key. Understanding the journeys through data of the customers using the product will enable better, more efficient communication.

Keep Exploring.