Giving low-income women in Egypt access to life and health insurance

Lack of health insurance is a major protection gap in many parts of the world. In Egypt, for example, many low-income women work in the informal sector, by running a market stall with fruit or vegetable, offering laundry services and similar activities. To date, these micro entrepreneurs usually lack any sort of insurance protection against loss of income due to illness.

Egypt woman in a bar using a mobile phone (photo)

In Egypt, most women who run a small business in the informal sector lack any sort of life and health insurance. In 2018, we worked with several partners to a pioneering microinsurance programme that addresses this protection gap.

In 2018, we helped expand a pioneering health microinsurance programme that targets this challenge. Originally conceived by Women’s World Banking ( and the Lead Foundation (, a dedicated microfinance institution, the programme offers insurance linked to the micro loans Lead offers to its clients.

Called Hemayet Lead (which means “Lead’s protection ” in Arabic), the solution combines two benefits: a hospital cash benefit of EGP 300 for every night spent at hospital, with limited exclusions (maternity, in particular, is covered), and life insurance for an amount equal to three times the customer’s micro loan. Together with AXA Egypt (, we are strategic partners of Hemayet Lead: AXA Egypt in its primary role of direct insurer, and Swiss Re as the main reinsurer and providing technical support.

At the end of 2018, the programme covered around 200 000 clients, 90% of them women. Such basic but ground-breaking microinsurance and microfinance solutions play a vital role in promoting economic development in emerging countries, and the rapid growth of Hemayet Lead demonstrates that there is strong interest from the informal sector in Egypt.