The importance of a reliable database

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Imagine waking up one morning and finding out that a relative left you some money you did not know about? Have you had that dream?

The insurance industry in Namibia is estimated to have over 2 billion dollars’ worth of unclaimed monies due to dependants of deceased persons. No accurate figures have been compiled, but industry experts predict that this relates to over 40,000 people who have money that belongs to them, but they do not know about it. The financial industry refers to these “unfound people” as dependants and make efforts, such as newspaper adverts, to find them. However, the longer the period of time has passed since the fund contributor died, the harder it gets to find a dependant.

Namibia has no home delivery postal service and there exists no national database of residential property and their occupants to enable NamPost to do door-to-door deliveries. This lack of residential information has also led to expensive exercises to register bank accounts correctly, under money laundering legislation, as well as higher interest rates charged to clients due to higher perceived risk by the banks.

These questions have laid heavy on the mind of Milton Shanika-Louw, founder of NamBizDotCom since the early 1990’s. He started his career at the Namibia National Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he was tasked with contacting business owners and getting them to become members of the organisation. In the formal, predominantly white-owned, business community this was fairly easy as most were registered with a local or national public organisation. However, the emerging, black-owned, business was largely unknown. For the next ten years, Louw collected business information by visiting each business in all corners of the country to publish the first business directory in Namibia that included street addresses and a sectoral classification of the business.

At the completion of this tough task, he was invited to Germany to learn more about business reporting for Creditreform in Düsseldorf. During this period, Louw came to realise the importance of a centralised citizens databases and the availability of residency information on the consumers in Germany. This capability allows German citizens to be “found” by government and the private sector as well as allowing personal delivery of information at the person’s place of residence.

Upon his return in 2004, he started the Namibia Persons Directory by collecting information from all public places such as local government, electoral registers, newspaper adverts, land evaluation registers, health certificate registers and professional bodies. This led to the publication of a “white pages” directory that included not only name, surname, postal and physical address, but also date of birth and contact telephone number. This database had 250,000 people registered by 2009.

This database exploded to more than 1,4 million records by 2013 when the first commercial product was made available to businesses and government. Unfortunately, most clients did not have the in-house capacity to handle such a large database, or they were confident they could collect their clients’ information through their own business networks.

In 2015, Louw started up his company again with the primary purpose of assisting consumers who were not aware that there was money due to them by the financial services sector. After an update of the consumer data, the database now has over 2 million records of which 950,000 have completed details including name, surname, date of birth, postal and physical address as well as contact number (90% cellular numbers).

The Namibia Consumer Database 2016 is now being marketed at insurance companies, banks, SME’s and government. The cost of the entire database (954,632 records) is N$ 95,000. Because many clients do not have the data mining capability or knowledge, NamBiz also offers training courses to their clients on how to manage and mine this data set.

NamBiz has always kept in mind that most consumers do not have the time or the money to search for money that may or may not be theirs. The company has thus decided to expand their services to include a probate research section. Probate research deals with finding heirs and proving their right to an inheritance. In some estates there may be no known heirs, or there may be missing heirs whose names are known but their contact information is not. In all these instances, professional probate researchers work to trace the next of kin. This service is being marketed primarily at the financial services industry.

Consumers who wish to have the company do research on their behalf may contact Louw on miltonlouw@gmail.com or send an SMS with their name and surname to +264 81 770 6502. Louw can also be contacted directly on +264 81 688 1368.

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