B3 Welcome the new CEO
The Batho Batsho Bakopane, Insurance Brokers also known as B3 is an authorized Financial Service Provider that was established by inspired black business professionals in June 1991 as a broad insurance brokerage business. The business was started in Ekurhuleni before growing to the other parts of South Africa as a whole. Today B3 has a national footprint and is a well-known and established brand in the insurance and funeral services business.
The business has been operating for almost three decades, and in preparing for the next phase of growth and maturity, B3 has adjusted its management team and its marketing strategies.
After almost three decades on the helm, the founder and chairman of B3, Mr MS Mogafe has retired as the executive chairman and he assumed his new role as a non- executive chairman of the business. In the driving position, B3 has welcomed a new member, Mr. Stanley Mathonzi as the CEO. Mr. Mathonzi is a diplomat and a seasoned academic, with over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. He joined the group on the 1st of February 2016.
We interviewed with Mr Mathonzi to learn more about his background and get an understanding of where is the B3 brand be headed under his leadership.
What is your work (experience) background and when was your official start at B3?
I joined B3 on the first of February 2016 after a long process of being incorporated into the business. I come from a financial services background, managing one of the major employee provident funds in the mining sector. Previously I was at SAMU national program fund, where I was head of operations. Before SAMU, I worked for few mine workers’ provident funds in different positions, including being head of operations. I bring valuable knowledge and experience to B3 in the insurance and the fund management industry.
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What are some of the business key challenges B3 faces today and how do you intend to tackle them?
One of the biggest challenges in the insurance business today is selling insurance to the people, who are experiencing economical hardships because of the current unfavorable economic conditions we find ourselves in, in South Africa. Some people are too skeptical about buying funeral insurance during this time and some of our client’s policies lapses because they are struggling to keep-up with their monthly premiums. This is very dangerous because the costs of paying for a funeral without an insurance is very high and people will find themselves in worst situations should someone pass-on and they have to find cash somewhere. We will always advocate for people to ensure that they stay covered to avoid situations where the “inevitable happens” which is death.
Also, we are living in a world where the digital media has taken the world by surprise. If as a business you are not positioning yourself as a dominant player in this space, you will struggle to keep-up with the trends and attract the future target market, which is the youth. As B3 we are positioning ourselves to make sure that we make use of electronic media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also want to introduce technological advance methods of processing our applications and claims to make it easy for potential clients to sign up and to get their payouts or service during the claim stage. We want to make use of these networks and innovations to connect with our clients and potential customers, in that way they can make use of our services through social media and other technological methods.
Please name your top 3 priorities for the next 12 months for B3 under your leadership?
Our top 3 priorities for me personally are in the following order:
Growth, because as an organisation we have to grow profit for the shareholders. Growth in our operation as we need to ensure we expand to areas and provinces to service our people. We also need to grow our knowledge and understanding of servicing our target market. We pride ourselves for giving “Service Beyond Ubuntu”, which is our slogan. We need to continue to be cultural sensitive to our people and offer a service that is sensitive and understanding, which is Ubuntu. This we need to learn all the time and grow our knowledge.
Our people are the most valuable asset we have as a business. Managing and preserving this resource is very important for the survival of the business. We want to attract talented people from Ekurhuleni to work for us. Training our staff is also one of our priorities.
Systems and Processes:
Lastly, we have to have systems and processes in place. We operate in a highly regulated industry and as a business we need to ensure that we comply with the Financial Services Board rules and regulations. We also need to introduce new innovations of attracting and processing applications in order to grow the business.
B3 is a well-known brand, mainly in Gauteng and Limpopo; how do you plan to penetrate new markets in other provinces?
As B3, we have our footprint in most of the provinces; we currently have more than 35 branches nationally. In Gauteng alone and we are planning to grow and focus operations and we are easily accessible to most people. We have identified Free State and North West provinces as our next growth areas. We already established our operations in these areas and employed brilliant people to help us achieve this goal. Our investments in these provinces will help improve customer service to the people of Free State, Bloemfontein or Mangaung and North West, Rustenburg to be precise. We bring competitive prices and superb customer services and professionalism. This will only benefit the people and help in creating jobs for the people.
B3’s inception was here in Ekurhuleni, what are some of the initiatives you have done to give back to the community of Ekurhuleni and other parts of South Africa?
We have CSI (Corporate social investment) projects that we are doing for our communities here in Ekurhuleni and other parts of the country. We have grown a lot since our inception back in 1991 and we now do social responsibility work in provinces like Free State province too. In Ekurhuleni, we support a centre in Kwa- Thema, called Kwa-Thema Stimulation Centre a centre for the disable people of Ekurhuleni. Thru our intervention, the children of the centre have benefited thru the provision of transport, class rooms and other things such as blankets in winter and food parcels in Christmas holiday period. Through our annual Golf-day, all the proceedings from the event are donated to the centre.
We also organise a golf-event for fundraising purposes for a similar centre in Free State, Bethlehem called Phedisang Bana. Annually we organise golfers across South Africa to go play in Clarence for the benefit of this centre which is situated in Bethlehem
Apart from that, we take part in sponsoring a Dovola and Friends Jazz sessions, which is local Kwa-Thema jazz club organising a jazz concert in Thema stadium annually.
B3 is also a proud “Sleeve Sponsor” for Bloemfontein Celtic, “Siwelele Sama Sele”, one of the most popular and successful Premiership league team in South Africa. We sponsor the team to ensure they continue to perform in the PSL and to avail opportunities for soccer development for the youth in Bloemfontein.
What is the main distinction that separates B3 from its competitors?
We are fortunate that we offer both insurance and funeral services and we apply the concept of Ubuntu, making sure that we bury the deceased in a respectful manner. We offer competitive insurance rates and we are able to negotiate of industry suppliers in order to offer cheaper price when we do the actual funeral. We have created many trends that have been copied or followed by many of our competitors, such as, professional trained and mannered drivers in corporate uniforms, reliable an executive fleet that brings dignity to any funeral, provision of a range for aid facilities such as grocery fund, airtime money and extra fleet and catering to make it easy for the family during a death of loved one. We continue to dictate the pace of the funeral services industry and we will do so for many more years to come.
Seeing that our country is facing a recession phase, how has this affected B3 sales and what are you doing to keep your customers ease?
The recession is affecting everyone in the country and all industries. We will continue to we talk to our customers and explain to them the various funeral covers. We will never compromise on the professional service we offer to our clients and we will continue to strive to bring the cost of doing business low.
What is B3 doing for the youth?
We have a number of young people we have employed as a business. Currently in our IT department, we have mainly young people heading this department for us. As the business grows, we are hoping will be able to invite more young people to join our company. Skills training and development remains one of our priorities and we will always ensure we avail opportunities for the youth.
We know that B3 is passionate about sports, since it is sponsoring Bloemfontein Celtics and some golf events. What do you aim to achieve with these sponsorships and which Ekurhuleni teams or sports is it sponsoring?
At the moment we are sponsoring Bloemfontein Celtics and some of the golf events that are hosted here in Gauteng. B3 also sponsors, Mpho Mafishe a young black professional golfer from Tsakane in East Rand. We do from time to time sponsor individuals and events in Ekurhuleni and we hope we will be able to do more of these events as we grow our operations. In 2016, we hope to sponsor a music festival and marathon organised for people of Ekurhuleni.