AFIA Insurance celebrates 25 years in business and the visionary founder Mr Nandu Babur joins us for this special celebratory edition.
Taking it right back to the start, we hear about the journey from arriving in Dubai 40 years ago to starting the business all by himself, working tirelessly within the insurance industry to then growing the company which now has 400 employees.
And I even get the chance to wish a Happy 25th Birthday to AFIA Insurance.
Being asked to interview Mr Nandu Babur by his son and CEO of InsuranceMarket.ae, was a true honour… I don’t think no was an option when the question was asked but without a doubt I was keen and excited to be the one asking questions in this case. The nerves were present prior to the interview, this is the founder, the boss of all bosses, what would he be like? Will he like me? Will we get on? Will he let me ask questions?
Within minutes, in fact, within seconds, I was instantly put at ease by the calm, friendly and interesting nature of Mr Babur. This is a man that founded and built one of the biggest and most recognizable insurance brokerages in the UAE and yet straight after meeting him, we were laughing and joking, chatting about our respective families and I was welcomed very well into his office. The insight had already started before the interview had begun, I was hanging off every word, there is so much knowledge and experience within and not only was I there to hopefully bring out some of this insight for a wider audience… but I was there to learn and what a great learning experience it was.
Moving to Dubai, with the common stance that most have of “I’ll be here for two years” , and still being here 40 years later is an achievement in itself but to have then set up a business which is still running and growing 25 years later…. Is something worth discussing.
Why? How? What next?
Mr Babur – The situation in Dubai was very convenient and I went forward with what I wanted to do. Having dealt with many people in this market and being very comfortable with insurance companies and customers who I worked for initially, it was actually a british company who understood and helped me. There were not many insurance brokers around at the time, maybe three or four and I was with one of them, a very basic British insurance broking company. There was a merger some years later which I was not very comfortable with so there was only one option left… I opened my own insurance brokerage using the knowledge and experience I had learned previously along with the fact I’d helped many people in the past, the transition was pretty good.
Lee – What was it like starting a business in the region back in 1995?
Mr Babur – In 95, there were also challenges but this helped me to learn that often challenges are always there, they never reduce, in fact they tend to increase but with the right people around you the solutions can be found. We developed ideas and realized that keeping customers happy at the same time was a prime objective so we went with that and it worked well.
Lee – How does it make you feel to know that the company you started 25 years ago by yourself, has now grown to having 400 employees?
Mr Babur – well, it’s my great pleasure that now my son is running the company and when he was small, since childhood, given the opportunity we would be talking about insurance also and I’ve been able to pass on the things I have done right and the things I have done wrong to him. So indirectly all the analysis has been done and InsuranceMarket.ae are not helping to take the company forward and that is my objective, that we keep on growing.
I would also like to thank all the employees because they have been very, very supportive and understanding. I tell them that they are not wasting their time and they will also go forward with InsuranceMarket.ae or AFIA. It’s not just about the money side of working with a successful company and being successful yourself, it’s being part of the family as we are at AFIA.
Lee – thank you for joining me and on behalf of all the other employees in the company a big thank you for the decision you made 25 years ago.
Congratulations and Happy 25th Birthday AFIA Insurance
It is rare that you spend time with someone and you just want them to keep talking but this was most certainly the case with Mr Babur, he was very open and honest during the interview, sharing a lot of detail but I know there is much much more that he could and no doubt would say given the time. A true pleasure to spend time with him and humbled to see that the success this man has created in the world of business and insurance, does not have an affect on the nature of the man himself.
No doubt a huge risk back in 1995 to take the plunge and start his own business but in the opinion of myself and many others, one that has certainly paid off and shall continue to do so.