How A Matatu Tout Grew To Become CEO Of A Top Insurance Firm

If you told Ahmed Abdi some years back that he would at one time run his own firm in Kenya, he wouldn’t have believed it. Abdi would have dismissed you as a joker and went back to his odd jobs, making a few coins in a day to provide for his family.

The 29 year old, who is now CEO of Amana Insurance Brokers Limited, was once a tout in Garissa town, coupling it with other odd jobs to cater for his family that survived from hand to mouth.

Speaking to Daily Nation, Mr Abdi painted the picture of a real hustler, revealing how he started hustling at a very tender age.

“I learnt to hustle at an early age. I started selling eggs and chicken at 10 years. Entrepreneurship is innate and it is not about class or geographic location. You have to be positive and keep your dreams alive even in the midst of discouraging situations,” he told Nation.

He revealed that at one point in life, he was made to abandon his studies at Bura Secondary School for lack of school fees. He was forced out of school, plunging into the responsibility of supporting his family. He took any odd job that came his way to boost the earnings of his parents who operated a small business. Some of the odd jobs he did included touting, a garage mechanic, and a truck turn boy.

The new dawn for the once matatu taut

Mr Abdi says that at some date back in 2008, he received a call from his cousin who offered him an office messenger job at his Transnep Insurance Agency insurance firm that is based in Nairobi.

He reveals how hard it was to survive on the 6K salary that he was offered at Transnep Insurance.

“I ate once a day and washed my clothes every day because I had only one shirt and one trouser,” he tells Nation.

He says that he worked so hard that he was promoted through ranks, becoming the firm’s marketing executive and later on a general manager. He was also able to return to school where he enrolled for KCSE as a private student, passing very well.

After passing KCSE, Mr Abdi went on to pursue several courses including insurance, marketing and strategic management. In 2011, he registered his own company, now known as Amana Insurance Brokers Limited.

He is perhaps one of few youngsters running his own insurance brokerage firm. Among other achievements, he has so far been awarded the Best Agency Award and was recently named the Best Insurance Broker by Association of Insurance Brokers of Kenya (AIBK).

Amana Insurance Brokers, which he now heads, is a mid-size company with an annual turn-over of Sh8million. It sells policies from major underwriters in the country including International Rescue Committee, ACTED and other top NGOs.

Even though his company is doing very well, he says that he is not yet there as he plans to grow his company even more.

“As a brokerage firm I sell other people’s policies, my dream is to grow into a fully-fledged insurance firm where I underwrite my own policies,”

Observation on the insurance job market

“Being young in Kenya is a real curse, people don’t take you seriously,” Ahmed says.

“Insurance is seen as a game for those above the age of 40 years, so many don’t see how a young man like me can run an outfit like this one.”

He however points out that his plan is to target the youth, small-scale traders, and other untapped sectors in a way to target the unemployed youth.

Career advice tips from Mr Abdi

  • Never allow your dream to be put off by the challenging situations that surround you. Mr Abdi says that entrepreneurship was an innate thing that he realized at the age of 10, which happens to be his present career.
  • Never allow the salary to stand in your way of growing your career. With only 6K, Mr Abdi persevered in the same organization that saw him grow his career and start his own company.
  • Take all opportunities you come by to advance your education. Mr Abdi started at the lowest level of high school. You can take that step to have an additional certificate on your training.
  • He also happens to provide a lesson that as a job seeker, your aim could also be to create jobs for others.
  • It doesn’t matter what you do, provided you do not stay idle and that it doesn’t go against morals.
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