Not many insurance professionals today would have the courage or drive to set up an independent insurance agency from scratch. Such an endeavour requires a purpose that outweighs any uncertainty around market disruption, insurtech and mass consolidation. That’s exactly what Ngozi Nnaji (pictured) brought to the table when she set up Ako Insurance Consulting (Ako) in 2017, after a successful 20-year career in the insurance industry.
Nnaji started Ako with a desire to “do something more around legacy, giving back to the community, and being more of a role model for women and minority communities”. Before creating her own brokerage, Nnaji had “great opportunities” that gave her exposure at major insurance organizations like CNA Insurance Company and Willis Towers Watson - but she still felt she could give more back to the industry and the wider community.
“That’s why I decided to open my own independent brokerage firm,” she told Insurance Business. “Now I have a platform and an opportunity to be more impactful, especially when it comes to exposing women and African American communities to the insurance industry. Insurance can be sexy. It’s not just something you have to buy because it’s required by law. It’s something you can build a career around and it’s something that can build generational wealth. The insurance industry has done a poor job of educating minority demographics about the benefits of insurance as a career and how it adds something positive to the community. In starting Ako, I’m taking this as an opportunity to provide that education and make my stamp on the industry.”
Nnaji will be speaking at Insurance Business’s upcoming Women in Insurance New York event on September 17, where she’ll feature in the panel, ‘New opportunities: Leaders today and the next generation tomorrow’. In what promises to be a very insightful panel discussion, she’ll share details of her experiences at the helm of her own brokerage and the different diversity and inclusion initiatives she’s championing at the firm.
“Because Ako is an independent brokerage, one of our priorities has been to focus on a clientele that matches our own demographics – so, really focusing on women and minorities and taking the time to educate them about the insurance they’re purchasing,” said Nnaji. “We want to help our clientele become better-informed consumers. That’s important because I think sometimes agents forget that educating our clients is one of the best things we can do for them.”
Alongside her work at Ako, Nnaji serves as the inaugural president of the Greater Hartford Chapter of the National African American Insurance Association. She also serves on the board and is a volunteer with Junior Achievement of Southwest New England and was recently appointed to the advisory board of the Howard University Center for Insurance Education. Nnaji’s efforts in the Greater Hartford area have not gone unnoticed. She recently received the Leadership Award by the State of Connecticut Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday Commission in recognition of her leadership and work in the insurance industry.