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Insurance industry bids farewell to ‘exemplary leader’ Henry Jawo, retired seasoned insurance professional

Jun 9, 2016, 10:56 AM | Article By: Lamin Jahateh

Stakeholders of the Gambia insurance industry recently bade farewell to a teacher turned insurance professional, whose 30-year stint in the insurance industry is said to be outstanding.

Henry Jawo is retiring as the executive secretary general at the permanent secretariat of the Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG), where he served for 17 years, from 2000 – 2016. 

He joined the insurance industry in 1985 after serving in the teaching field for more than 15 years. 

He resigned from the teaching field as a headmaster and later took up appointment in the insurance industry in 1985 as branch supervisor at Senegambia Insurance Company.

Speaking at a farewell cocktail reception held at a hotel in Bakau, Fatou Jallow, country manager of Enterprise Life Assurance Company (ELAC), said Mr Jawo’s service in the insurance industry has been outstanding.

“He was a hero, a mentor and an exemplary leader,” Ms Jallow said while reading a citation about Mr Jawo.

Ms Jallow said Jawo took up appointment with the IAG secretariat in 2000 as secretary general, and head of Brown Card Insurance Scheme at a time when the position was considered “not very attractive”.

“He weathered the storm by transforming the secretariat and the National Bureau into a permanent general secretariat, and made them relevant institutions to the admiration of many.

“It is important to state that the IAG is the first industry association with a permanent secretariat in The Gambia, and that record was achieved under his term as secretary general of the institution.

“As a leader, father figure and unifier, Mr Jawo had inspired and empowered many in the industry, and was very instrumental in bringing up the industry captains together as one successful family.”

Not only did Mr Jawo make his mark in The Gambia, but also in the regional arena.  He had served as an executive committee member of the Ecowas Brown Card Scheme for two terms, from 2009 to 2015.

Ms Jallow said Jawo’s personality and positive contributions at the level of the Council of Bureaux of Brown Card made The Gambia a highly respected country by both Francophone and Anglophone countries of the scheme.

Makaira Badjan, vice president of the IAG, said the IAG secretariat and the National Bureau of the Brown Card are manned by people groomed and trained by Mr Jawo.

He noted that Jawo is very passionate about the insurance profession and the growth of the industry. 

“We want you to know that we will continue to really count on your wisdom and continued guidance to move the insurance industry to higher heights,” he said.

Pa Alieu Sillah, commissioner of insurance at the Central of The Gambia, said no good thing is achieved too easily, and Mr Jawo has attained a lot of good things for the IAG secretariat and the Gambia insurance industry as a whole.

“His contribution has made the relation with the CBG and the [insurance] industry rosy, because he had involved us in all the activities of the secretariat – big or small,” he said.

The main man himself, Mr Jawo said his coming into the insurance industry was “definitely an accident”.

“I had no plans whatsoever to work in the insurance industry; I was a trained teacher, and I taught for 15 years.

“I got frustrated at one particular stage in my teaching career; and that was when I wanted to improve my professional competence, but I was not given the chance for various reasons. The frustration led to my resignation though I had no plans to resign at the time.”

“I owe gratitude to all the people that I have worked with in the insurance industry; without them I would not have achieved what I achieved,” Mr Jawo added.

He announced that he will offer his services to the IAG secretariat “until when I am unable”.

Saihou Samba, the successor of Mr Jawo as the head of the National Bureau of Brown Card Scheme, said throughout Mr Jawo’s work with the IAG and the national bureau, there was no single project or initiative that the secretariat failed in executing.

“He always says, ‘I do not have the word failure in my dictionary’,” Mr Samba said, adding: “There is no way that his replacement will match his level of experience”.

Ms Jallow, who read the citation on Jawo, said:  “One cannot narrate all the positive things about Mr Jawo, but it will suffice to say that he has worked tirelessly and pursued goals that serve the interest of the entire insurance fraternity in The Gambia and the sub region.”