Ahmed Abdi rose from a tout to become the ceo of Amana Insurance Brokers

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Ahmed Abdi

Rising From The Ashes

Sitting at the helm of Amana Insurance Brokers Limited is Ahmed Abdi, a young, bold, jovial and outspoken executive who is not afraid to recount his humble beginnings. When I listened to Ahmed speak, I wondered how one person could go through all those ordeals and still remain strong and lively.

Ahmed was born in Garissa County 29 years ago. He was however raised by his uncle at Dadaab camp and schooled at Dadaab primary school up to class four when he quit school and went back to his parents in Garissa. There, he ventured into small business of selling eggs and chicken, and with the little money he earned, he was able to support his family.

Later on, he went back to school – Al Farouq Primary. He sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 2002, and in spite of the many challenges he went through, he performed well. He joined Bura Secondary school in 2003 but his excitement was short lived. “I was forced to drop out in the same year due to lack of school fees,” says Ahmed. His hopes and dreams of a brighter future were shattered. At the time, he was just 16 years.

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Ahmed Abdi, ceo and founder, Amana Insurance Brokers Limited

Life became tougher for Ahmed. A third born and eldest son in a family of nine, he had to support his family financially. “I tried my hands on everything to make ends meet. From a matatu tout, novice garage mechanic, to a truck boy in Garissa town,” he recalls. He even remembers going to Mombasa for a job he was promised but all was in vain. “Life can be full of tragedies,” he remarks with a slight tremor in his voice.

Turning point

After about five years of hustle and bustle in the hot Garissa town, Ahmed received a call that he says changed his life. “As usual, I was performing my daily duties when I received a call from my cousin. I was to travel to Nairobi and work as an office messenger for Transpen Insurance Agency,” he recollects.

Ahmed took up the challenge, and due to his dedication, he was promoted to the position of a marketing executive and later general manager within a short period. He however says that initially, life was not easy in the city especially for strangers. He was also forced to take one meal per day because the little money he earned was not enough to cater for his expenses besides supporting his family back at home.

His passion to succeed saw him register for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education as a private student, after which he pursued several courses including marketing, insurance, strategic management and human resource management. These, he says have helped him greatly in his current position.

A leap of faith

A go-getter, the young executive registered his own insurance agency – Al Amana Insurance Agency- in 2011. It later converted into a broker firm now Amana Insurance Brokers.

Amana is a medium sized company that offers tailor made insurance solutions that cover all major classes of insurance.

He attributes the success of the company to his parents’ support as well as the chief executive officer of Tafakul Insurance (a sharia compliant insurance company) who also doubles as his mentor.

“If you have the will and determination, it is very easy to set up structures and succeed,” he avers.

Since establishment, Amana has achieved major milestones. To start with, it was the first agency to register with Takaful.

In 2011, it was feted with the Best Agency Award, and recently named the Best Insurance Broker by the Association of Insurance Brokers of Kenya (AIBK).

Ahmed was named by the Business Daily as one of the top 40 under 40 men in 2015 and recognized among top30 Under 30 promising entrepreneurs.

He was also chosen by Safaricom as one of the mentors in the ongoing BLAZE movement.

Going ahead

The CEO wants to convert Amana into a fully fledged Insurance company in the next four years.

Additionally, he wants the company to have a regional presence in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Somalia. “Most insurance companies are going regional because there are untapped opportunities.”

He also plans to venture into the agribusiness and pharmaceutical sectors as he believes there are greater opportunities.

Ahmed further envisions joining the Kenya Private Sector Alliance’s (KEPSA) Mkenya Daima, a peace campaign project meant to foster peaceful coexistence and peace for economic growth and prosperity for the country. Currently, he represents his Association at KEPSA.

The youthful executive is quick to point out that while the youth are given fewer opportunities in Kenya, they should get out of their comfort zone. “People need to be job creators rather than job seekers,” he ends.

Ahmed at a glance

  • Age:     29
  • Wakes up at 5:30 am
  • Arrives in the office at 6:00 am (Reads and responds to emails, and plans his day)
  • Leaves at 5:00 pm {Goes for prayers, gym, home respectively)
  • Hobbies:  reading, playing football, bicycle riding, travelling
  • He is a mentor/motivational speaker
  • Fun of Chelsea, Kenya Rugby
  • Spends his weekends with his wife and son