Today, we continue to profile companies that have been nominated for the prestigious 2012 Gleaner Honour Award. Sagicor Investment has been nominated in the category health and wellness.
The Sigma Corporate Run was born out of a very simple idea by one of the country's leading investment houses at the time that sought to address not just the financial health of its clients, but also their physical well-being.
Fourteen years later, the annual 5K road race, first organised by the former Sigma Investment Management Systems, has been credited with "revolutionising" the way Jamaican entities pursue the twin objectives of fund-raising and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.
More importantly, it has raked in over $102 million that has been donated to several key national institutions, primarily in health care. The Victoria Jubilee Hospital, the Bustamante Hospital for Children, the University Hospital of the West Indies and the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre are among some of the main beneficiaries.
The race has been rebranded this year the Sagicor/Sigma Corporate Run. It is organised by Sagicor Life Jamaica and is set to run off next month.
Donovan Perkins, the president and CEO of Sagicor Investment - the company that evolved from the closure of Sigma Investments in 2001 - explained that donating the proceeds of the race to charitable causes was a "logical extension" of the initiative.
"The idea of the Sigma Corporate Run has its roots in the philosophy that says we can't just all be about the financial side, we also need to care about our customers and their health," noted Perkins.
"And the logical extension was that if we are having this thing to help our customers remain healthy, why don't we do some social good with it," he added.
From very modest beginnings in 1999, Perkins said the Sigma Corporate Run has grown to become one of the largest such events in the Caribbean.
After its first staging in February that year, the organisers were able to donate $700,000 to the Jamaica Foundation for Cardiac Disease to assist 20 children who needed heart surgery.
Last year, by comparison, the event raised just over $33 million for Chain of Hope Jamaica in support of the Cardiac Programme at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
According to Perkins, the infusion of new energy and a change in venue from Breezy Park, in downtown Kingston, to Emancipation Park, in New Kingston, back in 2003 enabled the race to "just take off in terms of participation and fund-raising".
The result, he said, is that the race has also helped to raise awareness among a wide cross section of Jamaicans about practising healthy lifestyles.
"The Boston Marathon (in the US) had nearly 23,000 runners last year. The Sigma Corporate Run attracted 16,000 last year and hopefully that number will increase this year," he predicted.
The Sagicor Investment president and CEO said it has also created a model that has been embraced by other local entities.
He said this ties in with one of the original objectives of the race, which was to encourage all categories of employees or team members to maintain healthy lifestyles "so they would be better and more productive at work".
"It would also help to reduce sickness and days away from work, while at the same time building team spirit and a feeling of wellness," he explained
Perkins asserted that the race has started "almost a whole revolution in terms of having people focus on health and also on fund-raising".
"We have shared the template with a number of entities and now if you were to look at what is the fastest-growing area to promote healthy lifestyle and raising funds for good causes I would say it's the 5k run," he noted.
With over 600,000 customers, Sagicor Life Jamaica, the parent company for Sagicor Investment, is the third-largest insurance company in Jamaica. The company is projected to pay some $9 billion in health and life-insurance benefits to its customers for 2012.
President and CEO of Sagicor Life Jamaica Richard Byles said the company's mission is simply to get Jamaicans to understand the importance of insurance.
"Our mission is to make people understand that insurance plays an important, critical part really, in their family and financial well-being," Byles disclosed.
"Nothing can wreck a family more than somebody really, really sick and there is no insurance or for the breadwinner of the family to die and there is no insurance," he added.
However, Mark Chisholm, the executive vice-president of Sagicor's Individual Life Division, said getting Jamaicans to understand the importance of having insurance has not always been an easy task.