Dr Fidelis Akhagboso Ayebae is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fidson Healthcare Plc. The company recently declared ₦3.61 billion as its revenue for the first quarter of 2018, a 26% increase from the ₦3.42 billion recorded in the comparable period in 2017. While this amount may not be much by general standard, the fact remains that Dr Ayebae and his team have made considerable efforts to build the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry. Read on to find out how he accomplished this, as well as some of the challenges he faced along the way.
Who is Dr Fidelis Akhagboso Ayebae?
Dr Fidelis Ayebae is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s most prominent industrialists. He is also a very private person, which accounts for why information about his personal life is rather scanty. Notwithstanding, it is a known fact that he was born in the township of Agenebode in present day Edo State.
He studied Civil Engineering at Mainland Institute of Technology, graduating with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in 1976. In 1999, he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Business Management from the University of Lagos. He has over the years acquired many more academic and professional qualifications, including a PhD. He is a Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), and an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Administration (CIA). He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Affairs Management (FICAM).
Vast work experience
Following the successful completion of his tertiary education in the 1970s, Dr Ayebae worked at different positions in several notable Nigerian corporations. For instance, he worked as a Project Manager at Metalum Limited, he was a Managing Director at Ayebe Investment Limited, and an Assistant Director at Citibank. But he quit paid employment in 1991 to establish his own business. Today he is the Chief Executive Officer of Fidson Healthcare Plc, a company that has, to a large extent, revolutionized the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria.
Dr Fidelis currently sits on the board of several companies, including NEM Insurance Plc where he is currently the Chairman.
His performance as an entrepreneur
He left a well-paying job as a senior management staff of a leading bank to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit because he recognised a need and had a vision/solution. It really didn’t matter to him that he was venturing into a completely unfamiliar business environment. Instead, he was audacious and full of hope for the solution he was bringing to the Nigerian health sector. He also put in a lot of hard work into bringing his vision to fruition, and that has eventually paid off. Today, Fidson Healthcare is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria.
This is, therefore, an important lesson to all aspiring entrepreneurs; vision, dedication, and value are some of the most crucial guidelines to becoming successful in any business.
Leading the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
His company, Fidson Healthcare Plc, was the first pharmaceutical company in Nigeria and the entire Sub-Saharan Africa to locally manufacture anti-retroviral drugs for HIV-AIDS patients. This is a great accomplishment for so many reasons; first because it saved many lives, and secondly because it drastically reduced the cost of the life-saving drug which hitherto was shipped from overseas. For this reason, his company will go down in history as one of the pharmaceutical companies that took on the challenge of fighting the HIV menace in Nigeria and Africa.
On his leadership style
In 2008, Fidson Healthcare Plc became a listed company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Commenting on this subject in 2015, Dr Fidelis talked about two reasons why this decision was taken. In his words:
We wanted a company that will outlive us. Even after we would have gone, we want this company to remain. In the Nigeria of old, there were no second generation businesses that outlived the promoters of the business. Either because their children were not interested or the business was not left in the hands of professionals. One potent thing to sustain the company after many years that I would have gone is to bring in the investing public to buy into it. So if anything happens to me as the promoter, the board will appoint an adequate person to manage the company. The other way is to share success story to users of our products.
His leadership style is however somewhat controversial…
In 2017, it was reported that a former regional sales manager at Fidson Healthcare Plc defrauded the company to the tune of ₦16.77 million. As a result, the man (identified as Taofik Ajisebutu), was immediately dragged before the Igbosere Magistrates’ Court on Lagos Island and prosecuted. This incident is similar to a previous fraud scandal that rocked the company in 2012 when nearly twenty-five of those implicated were either summarily dismissed or forced to resign. In the midst of the scandal, some senior management staff, who were equally implicated in the crime, got to keep their jobs due to their “special relationship” with the MD. This was perceived by many as an exhibition of bias on the part of the business leader and industrialist.
He has received many awards
For his many contributions to the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria, Dr Fidelis has received many awards, including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year West Africa 2011 & 2012, Pearl Award for Sectoral Leadership in Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals sector of the Nigerian Stock Market in 2015, his induction in 2016, into the hall of honorary membership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), etc.
He is a member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), and the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Dr Fidelis Akhogboso Ayebae is married to Olufunke Ayebae who is also a Director at Fidson Healthcare Plc.