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Introducing a savings-financed product -- UpLift

About the Project

Project Name: Introducing a savings-financed product -- UpLift
Type of Facility Project: Microinsurance innovation grantee
Country of Operation: India
Region: Asia and the Pacific
Sub Topics: Business models, Other channels, Partnerships, Consumer education, Improving value, Value-added services, Savings-linked, Health
Type of Risk Carrier: Mutual or community-based
Type of Distribution Channel: Mutuals, community-based organizations

Organizational Overview

UpLift India Association (commonly known as UpLift) is a non profit company, created with the objective of setting up and accelerating community owned, bottoms up, risk sharing, protection projects. UpLift’s community plus health mutual protection model focuses on creating socially valuable business models and invests in training, education and service delivery as well as sets up operations to run risk protection models. UpLift’s founding member organizations Swabhimaan (trust) and InterAide (French NGO with Indian operations) provide technical and financial support to UpLift. InterAide channels support from various international organizations including the French mutual insurer MACIF that allows Uplift to offer a broad mutual health protection services. 


Project Description

Through its flagship programme, UpLift Mutuals, the UpLift team seeks to make health care accessible to families in the unorganized sector in India. These families are made up of daily wage earners with a daily income of US$ 2 to 6.  They generally have no access to social protection schemes. Given their low income, health is not a prime concern for families until a destabilizing event happens. This can lead to further poverty as they borrow or sell assets to pay for health costs. T...READ MORE


UpLift’s target population are families in the unorganized sector of India. These families (average four members) comprise of daily wage earners and have a daily income of US$2-6. The families generally have no access to social protection schemes. Given the low income, health is not a prime concern for families until a destabilizing event happens which can lead to further poverty as they borrow or sell assets to pay for the health costs. For these families, timely access to quality care at reasonable prices remains a dream. The project will focus on slum dwellers in Pune and Mumbai, and in a few locations in the states of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.


Learning Agenda

  • Do savings offer a better financing option for health insurance for low-income families?
  • How do the costs for communication and enrolment differ across different member organisations?
  • What impact does the mutual model bring in a savings financed insurance product?
  • What is the impact and effectiveness of technology in a mutual model, especially in reducing costs and efficiently settling claims?
  • Does a savings based insurance programme lead to improvement in customer retention and renewals?

Project Status

Key Performance Indicators


PEDO (no. of policies)

PremSeva (no. of policies)




Year 1





Year 2





Year 3

Total of 3 federations 4200 policies 2147
Project Updates
As of December 2012 The savings-linked product Legal status as a cooperative or self-help group is needed in order to take savings in India. UpLift had been unable to register as a cooperative, so it decided to form partnerships with cooperative organizations to distribute its savings-linked product. The following criteria were used for selection: Legal status to collect and handle savings and strong financial transaction experience Standard and formalized front-end and back-end pr...READ MORE

Project Lessons

On product design Feedback from the partner organization and the community should be used to adapt the product. UpLift’s partners told UpLift that it was difficult to communicate the complexity of the product to the rural tribal community. They encouraged UpLift to reduce the number of categories of illnesses, and to make the contribution system as simple as possible. UpLift therefore reduced the number of categories for the product targeting this comm...READ MORE
On distribution An exposure visit is an important part of training existing teams on microinsurance. UpLift found that the field staff, who were only familiar with microcredit, had negligible understanding of insurance and healthcare. UpLift decided to set aside traditional classroom training for staff, and carried out participatory hands-on training. This also allowed UpLift to see if planned processes for the field staff were likely to work in practice. Ex...READ MORE
On client education The local knowledge of field staff is vital to ensure that client education is appropriate for the intended audience. UpLift had to redesign its client education to take into account language barriers and low literacy. It had been communicated to UpLift by the management staff that all members would understand Hindi so the tools were designed in Hindi. When these tools were tested with the field staff they suggested that many PEDO members...READ MORE
On partnerships Separate effort is needed to gain buy in from partners’ field staff as well as senior management. The project was delayed because UpLift underestimated the time it would take to gain the buy-in of the field staff once it had secured the support of managers. Training may take considerably longer than expected if the field staff have not yet been convinced of the product. It is important for the partner to support interaction with its field s...READ MORE
On setting up a network of health care providers It is not possible to manage relationships with health care providers purely remotely. Local representatives should be appointed before the programme starts to build relationships with the providers. It was not possible for UpLift staff to travel frequently to the PEDO project area, so it was necessary to appoint a local UpLift representative to follow up with healthcare providers in person. However there were...READ MORE
On developing efficient back-office systems and automated processes The input of IT experts is needed to verify requirements and outputs. When the database structure was reviewed by IT experts, it was found that it was not designed in a way that it could handle increased numbers or product complexity. The system therefore had to be reworked at this stage, causing delays. In the end UpLift hired a dedicated IT professional to facilitate the process. Ideally, ...READ MORE
On access to health insurance Savings-based schemes can allow the poorest and most vulnerable people to access healthcare. The members of the three federations working with PEDO are tribal families and almost all have official cards to show that they come into the “below the poverty line” category, meaning that they are from the poorest economic strata. Members of the cooperative in Mumbai are slum dwellers and their capacity to pay is slightly...READ MORE
Project page contributor/s:  Kumar Shailabh and Deepali Kulkarni (UpLift) and Pranav Prashad and Alice Merry (the Facility)
Date of last update:  March 2015