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AMOS UKWILE EDIME AMOS UKWILE EDIME

AMOS UKWILE EDIME 'Changing the face of the Nigeria Travels and Tours industry' Featured

March 17, 2020 2855 comments

Set out to develop a career in the Banking industry but found himself in the travels and tours business.

This  is the story of Amos Ukwile Edime and his multi million naira travels and tours company looking to blaze the Trail across the Nation.


To say that Amos Ukwile  Edime is understated is an understatement in itself, it is tantamount to saying that his business, Kindred Travels and Tours, one of the fastest growing travels and tours company in the federal capital city of Abuja is barely  managing to survive; or that Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a make shift Politician.

It must be tough suffering the stare and glare that goes with being the scion of a fast growing business, but Edime wears his Entrepreneurial Knack lightly as he sits opposite I and my colleague for this rare interview. This Abuja office may be furnished lavishly but the man himself, in a simple black cotton suite, is not. He is measured, calm and guarded as he chats about everything from inspiration to Entrepreneurship to the Nigerian business Environment. There is a glint of humility laced with pride in the eyes as he mentions the obstacles he surmounted to bring the business to the present stable state towards the end of the interview. Kindred Travels and Tours has retainer ship arrangement with several companies across    the Nation. Tracking this busy man down for an interview was an arduous task as his seventeenth marriage anniversary was a few days away and he was on his way out of the country to celebrate it in grandeur with his family at  Venice in Italy.

Edime went to school at the popularly Known (Hill side)  Ochaja Boys School, he had his tertiary education at the Bayero University Kano where he read Economics, an MBA from the  university of Abuja, did some courses within Nigeria and also travelled out to UK, Geneva,  London for some courses too. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious Lagos business school and currently a chartered consultant and member Nigeria institute of travel consultants  and a member of entrepreneurs  forum in Nigeria and a couple of other professional groups.

 

He is married for seventeen years now with three biological children; one adopted altogether four and settled in Abuja.

Edime can be aptly described as reserved, a simple person by nature and enjoys   living a simple life style,” I like being down to earth”. When other children were going out drinking and partying, Edime was always at home, and he has maintained that  low profile discipline till date “Growing up from a reserved family, I did not see myself becoming very social at home but the reverse is the case at the work place; I am more social at work than at home”.

 

His tutelage under very strict parental guidance helped to shape his destiny and chart the present course where he now rules.

“Growing up from a very strict Christian home where my grandparents were strict and my parents follow suit. Although I am not perfect in life but that strict culture indoctrinated into me established me on that strict mode, developed me and shaped my mentality. I tried always to do the right thing at the right time. In doing the right thing I believe in developing people around me, such as my children and my employees, I get them books to read and organize seminars in the office. I also help them travel to other countries in order expose them and to build them up psychologically”

“My life style actually helped me cooperate more within myself. I believe more in my abilities. Through my quiet time, issues about my life are resolved”. Edime lives a   little of a spiritual life, praying consistently every morning and reading  books which has actually developed him immensely over a long period of time. This all important trait he also brought to bear in the work place as he made it compulsory to all his employees to be reading books too which has further exposed them to profitable life style and work place ethics. This unbending employee development drive has propelled the business forward in immeasurable ways.

 

Edime had always wished to become a banker but fate came to play in his destiny, after graduation from the University, Edime could not get the his dream Bank job after two to three years and that led to his picking up a job with the British airways,  “ … which opened my eyes to the world. I was employed in Lagos but transferred to Abuja after few months where I worked with a wonderful man called Olu adebayo. With him I was introduced to governors, ministers and people that matters. By so, it exposed me to meeting certain category of people that I have always heard about and only seen on Television. My limiting walls were broken when I noticed that even the people I hold in high esteem are not so better than Iam. Here my reading habit came into play”. It became clear to Edime that Some people are not very brilliant at all but very successful and some are very knowledgeable but not successful, the bottom line is that Emotional intelligence and effective presentation and communication skills are very germane in attaining the fulfillment of one s visions and dreams.” So I began to connect the dots between knowing something and achieving something, merge things and thinking for a better way for myself with the outcome of being a good researcher. I came to a realization that if things are simplified, one can achieve things easily.

“Although the travel and tours industry was not my ideal business and career path, “but it opened the world to me and made me realize that this is where God wants me to be”

“I worked with British airways, there after, I saw an opening and I joined Zenith bank to fulfill my lifelong dreams but for just six months, I was even promoted to an assistant branch manager within the period but that did not make me comfortable, I was very miserable in the Bank. I decided to take a pay cut by resigning and joined virgin Nigeria as a sales manager. There my spirit got attracted to the travelling industry although it was not very rewarding but it was what I liked and enjoyed doing. It was not stressful for me and I have always needed a simple thing to do.

 

“I STARTED KINDRED TRAVELS WITH MY SUITE AND A LAPTOP”

 

 Edime believes that to be an entrepreneur is to be a mad person. “Venturing into Entrepreneurship was just a decision, I had no money saved as my career was not moving badly, I was comfortable but somehow, I made the decision, I started Kindred Travels with just my suite and Laptop, sharing a table with a receptionist, there was the challenge of how to feed my family but I wasn’t deterred, it was madness”

 As soon as the business hit the ground running, other challenges popped up their heads, one of such challenges being encountered in the industry in Nigeria is the government policies, having  been in the industry for nineteen years now, Edime revealed that there were times the policies became too rigid to bear; particularly years 2016 and 2017; the aviation industry was threatened with exchange rate regime, it wasn’t fair enough and for those in the industry, it affected businesses largely.

 Dearth of People with capacity was another challenge also, Edime told the story of how one day while he was in British airways, his boss named Conrad told him that his greatest headache doing business in Nigeria is that there were no employable citizens. “Personally as a Nigerian I was offended but now as an entrepreneur I know better and this has affected our educational system. In Nigeria everyone is interested in university degrees. When I was interviewed for the British airways, they never bothered about my certificate but what I was capable of doing”

When you are looking to employ personnel, what you are looking for is not gender, it’s not age, it’s not their certificates, but the quality of their minds as that is what engenders capacity and productivity. In Nigeria, we are so certificate focused to the detriment of training and mental capacity

When asked about the business’s net worth, Edime was a bit hesitant but admitted; “we have a bond with IATA worth over a hundred million and we issue tickets to all the major airlines with an annual turnover of a little over a billion naira. How was this achieved? “For me, its my staff, we are a good team when it comes to working. They are committed to their work. Despite the fact that we still need a little time to push it, we will upgrade more with our internet services our major focus for 2020 is to improve our services by building a real time interactive website where we can spread our services without having to meet the individuals physically.

“The Nigerian travel industry is fierce, with low entry, and very competitive, we have leveraged more on relationships and people that patronize us are from referrals and we try to be very consistent in the quality of our service delivery”. And this people are not the ones he knows, “the known governors, senators etc. that I have come in contact with have not showed up but the ordinary people we did not expect did and we hold their satisfaction dear to our hearts”.

Edime sees Competition differently, “actually, just as our minds work differently I definitely know there will be  competition I wasted no time to ponder about them because one might be intimidated and lose focus if you start looking at the big players, but I started small and kept my focus. Even when I had to share a table with my secretary, I kept my focus and soon we began do even do better than some of the big guys”

 

“The Nigeria  travel industry is fierce..... and very Competitive”

Nigeria as a country still has a long way to go in the industry according to Edime, “as a Nation we have not started anything yet in this business compared to other countries, ours is still low and far between. In Nigeria people are only moving in and out of the county we do not have tourists yet”. Sharing the experience he had when he went to Trafford business School in Nairobi, Kenya, with other Nigerian tourists, “we decided to visit the wild life. We contacted a travel agency and paid $1200 just to other go around within 3 hours and the number of buses that followed us was up to 50 and we were about 500 at the time we visited. Now imagine the income rate each day, the hotel rooms are filled up with people and this is generating enormously for the industry players and the government every day. All the Government did was to reserve that mass of land and keep lions, Rhinos, hyena Elephants etc there. Now consider Dubai whose landmark is smaller than Abuja but Dubai generates higher income rate in tourism than the entire Nigeria”.

He opined that Government needs to create a dedicated ministry for tourism, develop National Tourism Development plan and grant it optimum implementation.      Another important issue is that of insecurity, the case of KAJURU castle in Kaduna where tourists were shot by Gun men is a setback for the industry as no serious tour operator will send his clients to such a place unless the Government addresses the challenge of insecurity.”The Nigerian Government needs to understand the enormous growth potential of tourism to the growth of our GDP, The Nigerian Government should invest in creating tourism destinations that will attract tourists from all over the world” Edime wants the Nigerian Government to revisit the Centenary City project, according to him, the centenary city project was capable of attracting tourists and investors into the country that will boost the economy and strengthen the Naira.

Edime’s advice for practitioners in the industry is to maintain integrity, and try to work together to move the industry forward.

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