I could never have imagined how complicated it would be to take an existing brand and modernize it into something that needs to take an organization into the future.
Only now I understand why organizations such as Namibia’s own liberation ruling party would never change its name or logo, as the psychological connection amongst rank and file is so strong, that trying to change it without losing something in exchange is nearly human impossible.
Prosperity also had its own kind of liberation journey, as it had to be more of a movement than just an organization to grow from the trenches with little resources, to become the corporate it is today.
In the same sense as Namibia’s own liberation ruling party, from whom we as Namibians can learn a lot, Prosperity has in a lesser way also built on personal sacrifices over 25 years. Therefore, Prosperity is more of a MOVEMENT than just a company.
The new Prosperity logo video clip successfully captures the essence of the movement of the Prosperity Tribe, recognizing its human past; a tough and rewarding Namibian journey, and the symbolic shield in preparing us for the road ahead in protecting our future, our health and well-being of each other and our members – who are the core purpose of our existence.
Each one of us will hold on to our own precious memories and special moments in time on this Prosperity journey, which we will carry with us and hand over as future generations takes over from us.
My Prosperity moment started in 1988, fresh from university, when I got the job offering to start up the Namibian office for a South African-based administration company. With Namibia’s independence clock ticking down to 1990, South African companies were scrambling to establish companies and service infrastructures in our country, with the objective of moving Namibian schemes administered in South Africa to Namibia. The move of the NASMED and O&L Medical schemes to Namibia was where I got my introduction to the science of medical schemes. In those years, NASMED existed out of SWAUK, ENOK, SWAWEK, and all the old South West Africa state-owned entities.
In 1994, I decided to leave the South African-owned company and with a salary and pension payout of less than N$25,000, we began what is today known as Prosperity.
We opened our 1st office in the Carl List Building with 3 staff members, and Kobus Struwig moved to the coast to start up our marketing movement in Walvis Bay.
In the 1st year of business we had to survive on minimum wages, and it is only when Pescanova in Luderitz and the Pelagic fishermen in Walvis Bay decided to join (what is today known as Prosperity Goodwill Society – a section 21 company, which was the original vehicle of the Renaissance Medical Aid scheme), that the Prosperity movement started to building momentum.
It was in those early setup days that Rika van der Post (today our CIO) joined from PWC as a junior auditor to do our accounts. She installed our 1st computer to set up our operations on a DOS excel style system, to move away from a typewriter to computer printed statements. Previously, we were still doing our claims on a manual log card system as all our members could fit into a wooden card box! Marius Kruger joined soon thereafter from PWC as a junior auditor to put our financial and accounting processes in place (today, Marius if our Group FD)
As our membership started growing with double digits, and our wooden card claims record boxes became an administrative challenge, we became desperate in need of a member medical management system, and in 1996 we made a deal with a leading SA owned company on a shares-in-exchange-for-a-system basis.
We did our 1st name change in 1996, when we changed it to NMA Healthcare Namibia, with NMA SA as a 50% shareholder, because we agreed to give them 50% shares in exchange for a computer system.
When NMA SA was bought by Fedsure Health, Fedsure took over the 50% shareholding in 1997. This was our big breakthrough because we could compete as Fedhealth in Namibia, which was, in those days, a strong household brand in SA.
Our further great break came when we got the appointment to start NAPOTEL in October 1998, when PATMED (Namibia Post) and Telemed (Telecom Namibia) decided to merge their medical aid schemes, and we won the appointment as administrator.
Our hard work was also rewarded when we got the Namdeb appointment to start the Namdeb Medical Aid Scheme on 1 January 1999, after nearly 2 years of negotiations between the Namdeb steering committee and De Beers Medical Scheme in SA to reach an agreement to move Namibian employees to a Namibian scheme.
It was in this same period that we won the administration of the Transcormed Medical Aid Scheme administration, existing out of Transnamib and Air Namibia, who still today count amongst our blue chip corporate clients under the Renaissance Health Medical Aid Scheme.
In 1998, Prosperity, with our empowerment partners, established Namhealth Administrators and became the 1st administration company in Namibia to be awarded the administration of PSEMAS (The Public Service Employees Medical Aid Scheme)
The late nineties was our Golden Year and we are still honoured today to be the administrators of both NAPOTEL and NAMDEB medical schemes after all these years.
In 2001, Fedsure South Africa financially collapsed and we jumped at the opportunity to buy back our 50% shareholding in November 2001, and changed the name of the company to Prosperity.
On 1 October 2002, we changed the name of the Prosperity Health Medical Aid Scheme to Renaissance Health Medical Aid Scheme, and it is still our honour to administer one of the leading commercial medical aid schemes in Namibia. I give recognition of its success to the Chairman and Board of Trustees of RMA, who created a solid governance environment whilst maintaining a structured partnership relationship with Prosperity to make RMA the success it is today.
Our 25 years has been made meaningful by the people of the Prosperity “movement”, with most of our founding members still in key positions, and I can give recognition to the people who shared this journey with us and all those who have made it possible to come this far.
Although we had several failures during our journey, the Prosperity movement was resilient enough to stand the test of time, to grow in strength and in many instances still sets the pace as a strong Namibian innovator and leader, a committed economical driver, a loyal service provider to our clients and a fierce competitor after all these years.
With the establishment of Prosperity Life in 2002 and EMED Rescue 24 in 2003, Prosperity evolved into a broad-based specialized financial and paramedical service provider.
The reason for this short memory trip is just to highlight some moments, amongst many others, that have made our Prosperity movement so special. Memories have a tendency to quickly vanish as the company embraces constant progress and change as we enter a new era, with a new generation of leadership.
The Prosperity financial foundation we build over time with the initial investment, which today represents more than N$1 billion in funds and assets under management, is a testimony of our acumen and achievements.
Our history will always be the cement that keeps the bricks of the Prosperity movement together, even as we enter the new normal, which will, over the next 2 to 3 years, become our real test as we transform ourselves to stand the test of time.
As we move forward and hand over to a new generation of leaders, we will find that in a modern world, less time is spent on history than on the future, as that has become the crux of survival in the modern world.
However, we should never lose sight of the importance of our history, as that will always be the ingredient of success of any movement and will see us through the challenges ahead.
When we lose the importance of history, that’s when a movement is at risk of losing its purpose to its people and the reason for its existence.
It is with this in mind that I realized my personal attachment to the “old” Prosperity logo, which had its origins in 2000 and to the history of our great movement, which could get lost in the corridors of time, that I need to give recognition to the Prosperity tribe (colleagues and clients), who made this journey meaningful and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As a founding member of the initial Prosperity movement, which is reaching the end of a 25 year era, and in acknowledging that we today have the strongest leadership in place since starting this movement, it has become more important than ever that we record the story of the Prosperity movement so that it does not get lost in the corridors of the future, and that the commitment of the “founding members” tell the tale of ordinary Namibians who became a great tribe – the Prosperity Tribe.