Co-operative Development Foundation (CDF)
With the onset of climate change, farmers in Malawi are increasingly vulnerable to late and erratic rains. Insufficient risk mitigation strategies can lead farmers into a downward spiral of worsening situations over time. As part of their INVEST project, CDF Malawi and its partners were ready to introduce a new, innovative microinsurance product to maize and soy farmers that could help them cope with drought. Can communicating the value of risk-mitigation overcome the educational and cultural hurdles to adopting this useful product?
17 Triggers headed to the field to speak with local farmers. A deep lack of trust for insurance products quickly emerged as a strong theme in our research. Paying a premium was not viewed as a risk-mitigation tool and farmers who didn’t make a claim felt that their money disappeared. In the case of insuring against weather, farmers did not trust the rain measurement system used. We learned that it is against cultural norms to discuss future catastrophes as doing so may be interpreted as inviting bad omens into one’s life.
Based on a core assumption that farmers would better trust products that were simple with clear benefits, mechanics, and limitations, we developed a set of prototypes and headed back to the field for a week to co-create and test tools with potential customers.Rapid testing to select product name that users trust.
We positioned the brand as a close, dependable friend, “Mthangati” with a positive visual identity that focused on hope. The catchy ‘no worries’ tagline proved to be a big winner with farmers.
We saw an overwhelmingly positive response to the product. Simple sales tools that used methods like storytelling felt familiar to farmers and refer-a-friend promotions and communal sign up days helped to build a sense of community trust. Tools like the rain board provided the transparency that farmers wanted while roleplay and games made their risks feel salient.
17 Triggers ultimately delivered a simple marketing plan for the pilot phase which achieved its goal to sign up 1000 farmers. CDF and their partners are scaling up the product to additional districts, making farmers across Malawi more trusting of insurance and resilient to drought.
Farmers give their own tune to lyrics and create a song with the insurance’s features.