Top 25 Most Powerful Women in C-Suite Impacting Business

As CEO of Takaful, Sumayya Hassan is focusing on deepening insurance penetration of Takaful across different sectors and demographics.


Summaya Hassan


One of the most visible Muslim women in the C-Suite, Sumayya is a lawyer who combines commercial legal experience with executive experience in various sectors including oil and gas and recently, Takaful Islamic insurance.

She is a former CEO of the National Oil Corporation of Kenya and has been an advisor in the areas of oil and gas, trade law, ethical leadership and corporate governance. She is also a respected trainer with the centre of corporate governance in Kenya.

Sumayya Hassan is the CEO of Takaful Insurance of Africa, the first and only fully fledged Takaful operator in East and Central Africa, which offers shari’ah compliant risk management and participatory insurance products built on ethical principles.

As CEO of Takaful, Sumayya is focusing on deepening insurance penetration of Takaful across different sectors and demographics. This is no mean a task in an environment where insurance is regarded either as a grudge purchase, to be bought only if required by law, or a luxury purchase for the few who can afford it and with a penetration currently of only 3%.

Part of Sumayya’s objective is to create wide awareness of what Takaful is and how it differs from normal insurance. The starting point is to educate the consumers that Takaful provides an alternative transparent, ethical, risk management solution. The model, which is Shari’ah compliant, is based on the principles of solidarity, cooperation and mutual assistance.

The ‘participants’ as they are called, mutually insure each other; Takaful as the underwriter, is the agent of the participants, in which role it handles the technical underwriting, investment of the funds, management of claims and handles the administrative aspects.

Funds remaining in the risk fund after paying claims and providing reserves are paid back to eligible participants as ‘surplus’. As Sumayya says, “We don’t own the risk fund hence have no incentive not to pay”.   

Sumayya recently launched Takaful’s digital transformation plan to broaden and deepen digitalisation for the benefit of the customers. This led to the launch of Takaful Mkononi during the 10-year anniversary celebrations of Takaful in January 2021.

Takaful Mkononi is an app which puts the convenience of purchasing covers and fixing claims in the participant’s hand. “We want to serve the client where they are, not only where we are”. The app provides yet another interface for the client to reach us in addition to our countrywide branches, website, brokers, agents and sales representatives.

Takaful is keen to provide solutions rather than products. Whilst offering a wide range of products for both corporate and personal coverage including medical, motor vehicle, workmen’s compensation, fire and burglary, professional indemnity, domestic, cybersecurity among others, Takaful focuses on what pain can they alleviate for the participants through their covers. For example, the Dada Takaful ladies motor vehicle cover, in addition to taking care of the car, also replaces the Dada’s handbag and its contents plus child’s car seat; the commercial motor vehicle cover pays the mortgage instalments while the car is being repaired; the index-based livestock product for pastoralists in arid areas pays them, during severe drought, to enable them buy alternative feed for their animals hence mitigating against the risk of loss of animals.

Sumayya is also keen to ensure the wider community benefits from Takaful’s existence. This isn’t just about occasional CSR but under the Jamii Takaful, she has reworked the business model to provide that a percentage of every cover purchased goes to the vulnerable in the society.

As part of the 10-year celebrations, Takaful recently launched Mnara, an online knowledge sharing platform. Mnara means a tower or lighthouse in Kiswahili. A lighthouse serves the purpose of illuminating the path for ships at sea; similarly, Mnara has been designed to help provide mentorship, advice and guidance towards success. Takaful has reached out to mentors from diverse fields to ensure Mnara will provide a rich offering to the mentees.

Sumayya is an Eisenhower Fellow and has received several local and international awards including the Top 40 Under 40, Lifetime Achievement, Best CEO in Kenya and Outstanding Women Leadership Awards.

Ms. Hassan is a keynote speaker and trainer at national and international fora on transformational leadership, ethics in business and corporate governance.

Sumayya sits on several boards listed and private companies as well as the not-for-profit sector including Pearls of Hope Foundation which she chairs, Nation Media Group, Safari Doctors and Islamic Relief Kenya.

She has initiated various programmes for the economic empowerment of youth and women and is now, as the Patron of the Muslim Deaf Association of Kenya (MDAK), also focusing on empowerment of the deaf and hearing impaired. In addition to economic empowerment MDAK is keen to expand the educational opportunities for the deaf and is currently exploring setting up both online and physical educational facilities.

Sumayya is the hostess of ‘Aspire’ a TV show on leadership and personal development.

Sumayya Hassan has studied in leading universities both locally and in the UK including the University of Nairobi, Lancaster University, University of Bristol, University of Oxford. From these institutions, she has chalked up a number of degrees and diplomas, including Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws, Diploma in Law, Advanced Management Diploma and Commercial Law. In the UK, she participated in the African Students Association.

She is highly endorsed in Strategic Planning, Negotiation, Research. Her interest include Eisenhower Fellowships, Islamic Finance – Takaful & Pensions, and empowering Women Executives.


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Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

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