Kunle Ajayi is the Chief Executive Officer of Krystal Green Mobility, a Segway gliding tour operator. In this interview with MAUREEN AZUH, the former insurance practitioner takes a look at the growth potentials of the insurance and tourism industries
How has it been working in a new industry after several years in the insurance industry?
Working in a new industry comes with its own challenges. There are prospects and there are also problems; but it has been a very rewarding experience for me so far. You never really know what you can handle or do until you try doing it.
At what point did you decide to leave the insurance industry?
When I entered into the insurance industry as a life insurance sales agent in 2002 and heard all the beautiful stories about what the job could do for people; I made up my mind then to exit the industry after five years and start something of my own.
I guess things worked in my favour because at exactly five years I just felt this urgent need to start something of my own, so in 2007 I left the insurance industry. Also at that point, I felt I had satisfied myself by achieving the goals that I set out to achieve in those five years of working in the industry.
There’s so much ignorance about the insurance industry in the Nigerian society, despite its growth and huge potentials in other climes. Why is this so?
I feel it is the practitioners themselves that are not doing enough to grow the industry. From the crop of people that are employed to the kind of remuneration packages, inadequate training and also the kind of products that are sold, most of which do not fit into the contemporary lifestyles of the people It’s obvious the practitioners enough.
Also the perception of people about insurance and insurance services have not really changed although it’s a lot better now than what it used to be some years back. But I feel that a lot still needs to be done for the industry to grow and be at par with what is obtainable in other parts of the world.
Do you think this ignorance is the reason why many Nigerian youths seem to avoid marketing insurance products or taking up jobs in insurance firms?
I sincerely think it is the ignorance and misinformation that makes a lot of Nigerian youths shy away from either marketing insurance products or taking up a policy for themselves.
There is a lot of money that can be made in the insurance industry especially for graduates that do not have jobs yet; this industry can be a good start for them. But, this can only be achieved with the right attitude and training.
What is your view on job outsourcing in the country, especially in the banking sector? Do you think employers are recruiting in line with labour law?
Most of what I see everywhere now is people putting square pegs in round holes. A lot of people employed to fill various positions in establishments these days are not on merit for such jobs.
Also the pay is not commensurate with the job and is therefore inadequate. Most employers do not however respect and implement labour laws.
Like you just mentioned, some other people have said that Nigeria employers do not obey labour laws when it comes to the affairs of their employees. What is responsible for this?
There are so many benefits that employers are supposed to put in place for their employees which are not. And I think it is about high time we began to embrace entrepreneurship rather than paid employment in Nigeria and not the kind of lip service that we pay to it.
I think whoever errs on the path of the law should be punished. I feel people are taking laws for granted because nobody has been punished for disobeying labour laws so far. If and when someone is punished for treating employees wrongly, then others will adjust.
You hear the case of employees resuming for work at very odd hours for meetings and closing at wee hours as well. You also don’t want to imagine the inhumane acts some owners of large factories and warehouses make their employees go through. Enforcement and prosecution of offenders will change the norm.
What is your comment on the recent immigration recruitment process that claimed the lives of many Nigerians?
It’s unfortunate that a thing like that happened at this time in the history of this country. There are better ways of conducting interviews for such large number of people. I felt they could have used different centres, multiple in states and the candidates can come in batches.
Such exercises should be carried out over a period of time. It just brings to the front burner the reality of unemployment in the country and the reason why people should embrace entrepreneurship.
As someone who recruits people for companies, how true is it that Nigerian youths are unemployable?
I won’t say all but most. A lot of people are really not cut out for paid jobs but because they have gone to school everybody around them expects them to get a job. And as such most are not fit for the jobs they apply for. How would you expect someone who read Yoruba language in school to fit in a bank job? And like I said earlier most employers don’t want to spend time to train employees. They are always more concerned about the bottom line. Prospective job seekers should try out their skills elsewhere, like turning their passion to a business that can employ others also.
You left the insurance industry to start a completely different line of business, what informed this decision?
Like I said earlier, I just felt this urgent need to start something of my own, so I started Krystal Green Mobility, which is the first green mobility company in Nigeria.
We deal in electric products from two wheelers to four wheeled machines and we are franchise owners for the Segway, Windrunner, Luggie and also E-Max electric scooters in West Africa.
Our products especially the Segway and Windrunner two- wheeled mobility machines can be used by the police for community policing, they can be used by security companies, malls, golfers and also recreational and tourist centres.
All our products are also battery operated so you don’t have to go through the stress of changing oil and buying fuel, which comes with other mobile machines. You just charge them and you are good to go. The Segways are the fastest selling and are the best machine you can ever have fun with standing on your feet either as a tourist or as someone who is just out to have fun.
Do you think Nigeria is ripe for Segway gliding tours that you talked about, considering that investment in tourism is still very low when placed side by side with other countries?
Nigeria has great potential for tourism that is untapped because of the attitude of those in authority. But our company Krystal Gliding Tours is working to make its mark in the industry by encouraging tourism. We are currently in the process of partnering with some fun turfs and gaming centres around Nigeria where people can go to take a ride on the Segway.
I think Nigerians can begin to think of new ideas that can promote tourism in the country. Tinapa for instance, is masterpiece that its potentials are being eroded not just because of lack of proper funding but also lack of new ideas.
Another major problem is that most of our games reserves and parks in the country are also non-functional. But with the introduction of these gliding tours in these locations, individuals can move around these massive expanses of land with ease and that could be a very good attraction for tourists.
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