Meet the insurance guru :Mr Ivan Avereyireh

BY: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah
Mr and Mrs Avereyireh flanked by two of their children, Daphne (left) and Jeffery

There are many matters, accidents and events that happen in our lives which at first glance or from primary observation seem unfortunate, painful, sad, unexpected, unwanted and unpleasant.

But after some time, the same event, the same accident, the same matter turns out as a blessing instead of a curse. It is called a blessing in disguise.

His circumstances perfectly fit into such a situation. After writing the Advanced Level examination, he was one of the lucky students who were selected to continue their education in the then Soviet Union.

Feeling delighted to have been nominated, he decided to go and say goodbye to his father in Tamale. Unfortunately, the vehicle he travelled in from Bolgatanga to Tamale was involved in a horrific fatal accident on March 18, 1981 and everyone on board died, except him and the driver’s mate.

Unluckily, the accident affected his travelling plans and his colleagues travelled abroad without him.

Having missed a

 

That bold step was to secure employment rather than wait for an academic opportunity to come knocking.

 Lady Luck smiled on him and he had his first employment as a GCE Advanced Level Clerk with the then State Insurance Corporation (SIC).

Today, the young clerk has turned his fortunes in insurance to become one of the giant insurance experts in the country and beyond.

He is Mr Ivan Abubakar Avereyireh, the Managing Director (MD) of Ghana Life Insurance Company Ltd.

He is currently the President of the Ghana Insurers Association (GIA) and the President of West Africa Insurance Companies Association (WAICA).

Apart from these, he belongs to a tall list of international insurance-related institutions.

For instance, he is an Executive Member of the African Insurance Organisation (AIO) and a fellow of the West Africa Insurance Companies Academic Board (WAICA).

Who is Mr Avereyireh?

He could best be described as a business-minded person blessed with organisational and excellent results-oriented skills.

As a Chartered Insurer and an associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute of London and also a holder of the West African Insurance Institute Diploma, he has chalked significant achievements in his field.

For example, as the head of a team, he turned around the fortunes of Ghana life Insurance Company Limited from a collapsing company to a revived and vibrant one.

The leadership skills in him was discovered as a teenager in his secondary school days at the Bawku Secondary School, where he studied from Form One to Upper Six.

Just out of the blue, the diminutive boy among his giant colleagues was made the House Prefect of the Freeman House around 1978.

“I never dreamt of being a prefect but thanks to my house master at that time, Mr Thomas Anagi who saw the potential in me, I gained an opportunity of a lifetime and there has been no turning back,” he explained, with full of praises for his tutor.

Going back to the journey in insurance, he said it was obvious he was destined to be an insurance expert as anytime he decided to leave the insurance field for another terrain, something came up to make him stay.

With high hopes of changing his career path, he was once again selected among a group of people to work as a Parliamentary Senior Reporter in 1981.

He quickly sent in a resignation letter to his employers. Unfortunately, the 31st December coup d' etat took place and his plans were thrown off gear.

Like the prodigal son, he went back to withdraw the resignation letter as it had not lapsed into the resignation period.

Subsequently, he remained faithful to his first love, the SIC, until he bid them farewell in 2009 to take up the position as the MD for Ghana Life.

Insurance prospects

Insurance has come a long way in Ghana says Mr Avereyireh. “Currently, insurance contributes about 1.8% to the GDP. Formerly, it was less than one per cent because most people didn’t understand insurance and its benefits in totality”.

For him, insurance is tied to the economic growth of Ghana. He explained that most people were low income earners, and by bringing micro insurance to their doorsteps and educating them on its benefits, they would gradually appreciate the need to get insurance products that would serve their immediate and future needs.

“The future of Ghana is in the hands of the middle class, and we have to make insurance relevant to them. We can reach them through the social media via WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, BBM, SMS and many other platforms. We all know how they hold things such as their gadgets in high esteem.

“We can introduce insurance packages for their children’s education, health, mortgages, iPads laptops, tablets among others,” he suggested.

"Insurance products are important for all levels of income earners. Indeed, the less you earn, the more you need to safeguard assets and investments."

Mr Avereyireh admitted that there had been few complaints about some attitudes of certain insurance companies towards their clients.

However, he stressed the need for people to critically read insurance policies before signing on to them.

“Most people don’t take their time to read and as a result end up taking wrong policies”.

Religious tolerance

In this era where some religions are at each other’s throat, Mr Avereyireh is one person who can best be described as a religious unifier as his home has both Muslims and Christians who co-exist peacefully.

“My wife is a Muslim and a Hajia for that matter. But I’m a Catholic yet we understand and respect each other’s religion and it has been so for over 25 years of marriage”.

Passions

Apart from his love for insurance, he has a soft spot for football. It is therefore, not surprising that he helped coach a colts team called Hearts babies in the 80s while based in Tamale.

In fact, one of the prominent players who passed through his hands at that time was Mas-Ud Didi Dramani who later became a very successful coach himself leading Kumasi Asante Kotoko to two league titles.

Mr Avereyireh again became the Chapter Secretary for Accra Hearts of Oak in Tamale until he left for Liberia to pursue a diploma programme with the West Africa Insurance Institute.

“I needed full concentration on my professional course because it was very demanding so I left the coaching business,” he mentioned.

He loves listening to jazz music, mentoring and engaging in charity work.

“I hate to see people suffer due to financial constraints, therefore, I try to share the little I have with the less privileged. I often visit some of the orphanages with my family to show love to them.

“At least, by so doing, the children will cultivate the spirit of giving as they grow”.

It is for this reason he is the Chairman of the Spiritans Centre for youth reformation, a Catholic NGO.

He loves to eat tuo zaafi with bra or ayoyo soup prepared with guinea fowl.

For him, every day is a new beginning with fresh opportunities therefore, it is wrong to entertain limitations such as “I don’t have money to do it, I don’t have connections, I don’t have a godfather out there for favours among others”.

"The young people of today must learn to be humble, disciplined and hard working.

You cannot be standing in a hole and expect to fly like an eagle," he exhorted.

Background

Despite his numerous professional qualifications, he decided to go back to the University of Ghana in 2001 to pursue a degree programme and graduated with a Bsc Administration (Marketing option) in 2004.

Mr Avereyireh, who celebrates his birthday on April 18, hails from Navrongo in the Upper East Region. Interestingly, he is a polyglot. He speaks many languages they include, English, Kasem, Grune, Twi, Ga, Dagbani, Hausa and some French.

He is married to Hajia Abdulai Avereyireh and they have five children.