Folorunso Muyiwa is the Chief Executive Officer of Divergent Enterprise, the parent company of Porkmoney. In this interview, he outlined the opportunities and importance of investing in the non-oil sectors for economic growth. Excerpts:
What did you set out to achieve when you established pig business?
Porkmoney was birthed in 2018 with an objective to create wealth for our financial partners through pig farming.
Federal Government maintains its determination to diversify the economy. Do you think that is achievable?
It is definitely achievable. The diversification of the economy is probably the only option left for development and growth. This is because the economy continues to be over-reliant on oil, the numbers speak for themselves. Oil accounts for 80% of government’s revenue and 90% of foreign exchange earnings. No country can totally depend on only one economic sector, especially one that is blessed with a lot of natural resources like Nigeria.
I believe that there are great opportunities for non-oil sectors to grow and this growth has been visible since 2001. Of course, the changes cannot be that quick and the transformation will not happen overnight. However, the federal government can develop different sectors by taking the important steps necessary for growth to take place. We can no longer be a mono-economic country.
What would you consider as the most limiting factor to entrepreneurship, especially for youths?
Lack of capital has to be one of them. Aside from the fact that the Nigerian environment is not too conducive and encouraging for budding entrepreneurs, raising capital and access to funds, has to be one of the biggest challenges for youth in business. Another is the unfavourable tax policies, poor management, corruption, lack of training and experience, poor infrastructure, and a lack of specialised skills to scale one’s enterprise, none of which is insurmountable for the determined person.
How would you rate Nigeria’s scale of Small Medium Enterprises, compared to Malaysia and other countries?
The SME sector is the backbone of major developed economies, as well as important contributors to employment, economic and export growth. Malaysia is doing remarkably well when it comes to the business scene. About 98.5% of Business establishments In Malaysia are SME’s which contributes to 36.5% of their GDP and 65% of the country’s employment. This is impressive. But despite the significant contribution of SMEs to the Nigerian economy(48%), challenges still persist that hinder the growth and development of the sector. Some of the overriding issues are access to funding, lack of skilled manpower, the multiplicity of taxes, high cost of doing business, among others. This proves that there is still much to be done.
What challenges did you encounter?
Every business comes with a few challenges. One of the challenges we constantly face is the need to micro-manage casual workers. From farm handlers, managers, production managers to other workers. Many of them compromise on set standards by cutting corners, especially in meat processing and livestock welfare. Another challenge is the religious sentiments in this part of the world towards pigs and pork products. However, this was a more pronounced problem at inception and it is gradually dissipating with time.
Knowing the religious sensibilities of the country, did aversion to pork cross your mind?
Not at all. In as much as there’s a religious proscription to the consumption of pork, we cannot ignore its usefulness and benefits to our health and nourishment and just how lucrative the pig farming industry is. I mean, Nigeria is a major consumer of pork and 80% of it is imported. This means that a lot of people enjoy this animal protein, all we are doing is localising its production.
Could that explain why you ventured into pig farming?
The idea for Porkmoney grew out of the desire to tap into an over neglected sector of livestock farming (Pigs) that has the potential to create value and change the agricultural ecosystem for good. Long ago before Porkmoney was launched in 2018, I had visited a pig farm in Ogun State. One of the biggest in the country and realised how fast the pigs grew and the viability of the pig farming system in general. I knew this was something I needed to be a part of and I’m glad for the decision that I made. We are currently the leading Pig farming enterprise in West Africa and our results speak for itself.
Did you derive the idea of establishing PorkMoney from that enterprise?
My visit to that farm was definitely a turning point for me. Before then, I was oblivious of the untapped goldmine that is pig farming.
Vaccines and disease surveillance have always been the bane of animal husbandry, how do you react to that observation?
Livestock is very prone to diseases, hence the need to constantly take precautionary measures such as the administration of vaccines and disease surveillance activities across the farm to prevent disease outbreaks. Very recently China witnessed it’s the biggest animal disease that claimed the lives of the livestock and cost the country to lose billions of dollars because of its flawed surveillance.
So, it’s important for other pork producing countries to take adequate disease surveillance and testing programs in order for these diseases could be detected early enough and prevent a fast spread. And so far our farm partners under our management have taken adequate measures that have seen us not witness any outbreak since our launch in 2018, we expect that with our measures this would continue to be the case.
Is it possible to alter negative public perceptions about pig farming?
Yes, one of our key responsibilities is to enlighten and educate the general public about the great side to pig farming and inform them of the many benefits of pork consumption. Somehow our environment and the kind of information we were exposed to as a people, have influenced our idea of certain things. There are a lot of things we might need to unlearn as time goes on. So by using all our platforms, from our social media, our website and even our adverts, we have ensured that we always show the good side to pig farming because they’re a lot.
Did you think about the possible health challenges in pork breeding?
Of course, we do. However, we ensure that we take the appropriate steps to mitigate any possibility. We also take proper hygienic measures like vaccination, quarantine, and biosecurity which keeps our weaners very healthy.
Are you saying there are no associated diseases?
Livestock farming comes with a risk of an outburst of diseases but if managed properly, can be prevented. And the great thing about pigs is just how resilient they are as compared to any other livestock for farming. They are simply incredibly disease resilient.
As an entrepreneur, how did you overcome initial apprehensions, especially funding, and what areas have you exerted your ideas so far?
When i was starting out in business, I had no capital, training or resources to start my journey. The brilliant ideas were there, all that was needed to execute them was finance. This was lacking but I had to start small and grow multiple businesses over the years till I was able to afford the capital needed to start my current pursuit.
EduTech records First Class Nursing Graduates; Launches Education Loan Product
EduTech announces the successful induction of graduates of its Bachelor of Nursing Science programme with OAU CDL.
Nigeria’s leading provider of e-learning platforms, EduTech, has once more demonstrated the ability of its platforms to deliver a robust learning experience with the announcement of the successful induction of graduates of its Bachelor of Nursing Science programme with the Obafemi Awolowo University Center for Distance Learning (OAU CDL); with two of the graduates bagging first-class degrees.
According to Femi Shonubi, General Manger, EduTech, “We are delighted to help facilitate another batch of graduates in partnership with the OAU CDL. Coming at a time that there’s renewed focus on alternate means of studying following the Covid-19 pandemic, we are pleased to prove that e-learning platforms are not only viable in Africa but hardworking students can leverage our platforms to bag first-class degrees as demonstrated by the duo of Olumuyiwa Elizabeth Amoo and Dolapo Rukayat Adebisi who finished top of the class following four-rigorous years of studying including practical and written examinations.”
It will be recalled that EduTech recorded double milestones in December 2019 when the first set of students in the B.Sc Accounting programme in OAU graduated with three members of the class finishing with first-class degrees.
Relatedly, the company also announced the launch of its student financing solution. Named EduCollect, the education financing gateway aggregates funders to provide loans to students of various academic institutions. Created for both students and guardians, the product facilitates secure loans to allow students continue with their studies without the added pressure of bulk, upfront payments.
“As a pioneer in the education financing space in Nigeria, EduCollect will provide unparalleled access to short-term loans with a convenient repayment regime at some of the lowest interest rates in the market without any collateral. By following three simple steps, interested students can secure their education through EduCollect,” explained Shonubi.
Since its inception in 2012, EduTech has partnered with and deployed e-Learning solutions for a broad spectrum of entities ranging from universities to corporate institutions as it focuses on its goal of bridging the gap between demand for and access to quality education through the process of decentralizing the traditional method of learning. its current partners include Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Babcock University (BU), Ilishan-Remo, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Lagos amongst others.
Making business future-fit: The new marketing realities facing business after Covid-19
Andisa Ntsubane discusses the challenges businesses now face as they navigate through the COVID-19 era.
The year 2020 will be remembered as the ‘Year of the Great Pause’. It has been a period in which perceptions changed, boundaries moved, and businesses shifted on their traditional, comfortable foundations. Brands have been left battling with the reality that the unexpected had indeed happened and leading companies in Africa have lost an estimated US $ 60 billion off the value of their brand equity according to the recent Top 150 Most Valuable Brands in Africa report by Brand Finance
As normality slowly returns, marketers are left with the certainty that although a new dawn is breaking, they have a scant three months to begin recovering lost ground. They have to compensate for the time when business was paused, and marketing investments were pulled back.
While getting to grips with these hard-short-term facts, those at the heart of marketing will also be acknowledging that significant, permanent shifts have occurred in the ground below their feet.
There can be no denying that the COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the dire economic and social challenges that the continent faces. There has never been a more opportune moment than this to accelerate the Shared Value Agenda and engage on how there can be an increase in the introduction of business models that address social issues.
The path ahead will be challenging to navigate because it means that brands will have to move decisively to regain customers’ trust in the roles that they play within communities, countries, and the continent at large.
After all, our brands are our promises to the markets. To move forward, we will have to emphasise the positive influence that brands can have on people and societies. Those that lead and prosper will deliver tangible value and help to resolve cultural and social tensions in society. This means that brands need to be connected and responsive to the lived experiences of people. Brands must understand and be connected to the anxieties that people face. Above all, they need to be the agents helping to re-energise people and contribute towards creating a sense of optimism about the future.
These actions will become necessary because there has been a profound shift amongst our customers, our communities, and the continent at large as a consequence of this watershed moment
Traditional, disconnected, overt sales messages have been relegated to the past. People now expect their brands to have a purpose. More significantly, as we move towards a brighter future, people will support brands that were perceived to have done something positive when times were tough.
Pushed aside will be those brands that have not realised that relating to their customers is not about making promises; it is now about tangible actions that deliver on the business strategy and brand promise.
Ultimately, brand leaders have to learn the lesson that although times change, the things that matter, seldom do. This means connecting to the things that people care about, to what they value and hold dear. Families, relationships and wanting the best for your children as well as a brighter future will always remain fundamental concerns. The brands that understand these needs and cater to them will be brands that succeed. Brands have to be able to demonstrate that businesses do not just look at making profits or for economic opportunities.
This new approach will also involve understanding societal issues and then building business models that help address these issues. The key is to simultaneously achieve economic and societal value and help move the business and customers forward.
Creativity will play a central role in the transition from frivolous or hard-sell messaging to a more concerned, empathetic and understanding brand persona.
There has never been a better time for brands to deliver on their purpose. Now is the time to deliver on what we say. Covid-19 has been the perfect opportunity for brands to practice what they preach.
Disruption is becoming increasingly important. In these times if you are not disrupting your industry and yourself, you will be left behind. Strategies must not be built on the principle of being developed to last, but rather to accommodate transformation. The world is changing around us, and we have to construct models that help our brands respond to the ever-changing demands of the external environment.
Medium-term five-year business plans and strategies will inevitably become a feature of the past as timelines shorten. We will increasingly find ourselves living in a world where agility and responsiveness will become the watchwords.
Brands and businesses being responsive will require moving beyond just hearing consumers. There is a plethora of databases and social media listening tools available, but we must ask whether we are really listening, engaging and responding to our customers.
Consumers today recognise authenticity and true purpose, and both are going to be critical ingredients for building brands in the post-pandemic world. Meaning brands will now have to act more like people. A few ways we can activate the change are:
- Play our part: Show up and use all resources and creativity to build a better world.
- Act together: As the wise African saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together”. Recognise the strength in collaboration, to truly help people requires working in solidarity with likeminded entities.
- Solve instead of selling: Be more comforting and less promotional. It is about finding meaningful solutions to problems people are facing.
- Be human: Show empathy for the contemporary situation while retaining brand relevance. People are reassured by positive actions and communications.
As purpose is put to the test in the midst of the global pandemic, marketers who have not been able to translate their brand promise into actions and drive meaningful connections with consumers through presence and differentiated positioning might have missed the biggest opportunity.
By Andisa Ntsubane Interim Chief Marketing Officer, Old Mutual Limited
ICIT Solutions Nigeria builds 9Business Cloud Market in partnership with Microsoft, 9Mobile
ICIT Solutions Nigeria has announced a partnership with 9Mobile to launch 9Business Cloud.
ICIT Solutions Nigeria, a business technology solutions provider and tier-one Microsoft partner, has announced a partnership with 9Mobile to launch 9Business Cloud, a top-notch e-commerce platform where all cloud-based software packages can be purchased. The cloud storage business platform is designed to enhance enterprise productivity in the fast-growing Nigerian market.
ICIT (Internet, Communications & IT Solutions) headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, is an experienced information technology solutions service provider with commitment to efficiently empower businesses to achieve more with less using automation. ICIT, provides both SMEs and Enterprise level businesses with affordable and trusted managed IT services and business process automation solutions to help them operate effectively. The company’s primary goal is to help clients build systems where business productivity is optimized, profitability is increased, and peace of mind is guaranteed.
Mr. Kamar Oyenuga, Managing Director, ICIT Solutions Limited noted that, “We are excited to announce our partnership with 9Mobilie Nigeria to launch this first-in-class cloud solutions e-commerce platform 9Business Cloud for organizations of all sizes. Whether you are an organization of 1 or 10,000 employees, we have something for you to enable you manage and run your business from anywhere.”
Kamar in his statement mentioned that, “the 9business platform https://cloudbusiness.9mobile.com.ng/, caters to anyone, whether a 9Mobile subscriber or not, looking to purchase cloud-based products and solutions. The 9Business Cloud market place has affordable software products like Microsoft 365 which helps you to run your business from everywhere in a cost-effective manner, Microsoft teams for improved productivity and employee collaboration, One Note, One Drive for data and file storage online with up to 1TB worth space. Also available are SharePoint, Dynamics 365 for customer engagement and personalized service on any channel, recruitment, employee development, financial management, improved customer experiences, and improved marketing, and many more.”
He further stressed that, “This is an innovative way for modern businesses to cut-away unnecessary cost while also achieving optimal results for a more sustainable business operation. It’s simple, quick, secure, stress-free and affordable. Having identified that the core need of any organization is to ensure that every stakeholder has peace of mind which emanates from the profitability of the company, ICIT Solutions has positioned its offerings to support such businesses that aim to attain profitability that will in turn, increase their value.”
For over a decade, ICIT Solution has been creating sustainable and highly secured automated business solutions for companies, by engaging the businesses to understand their processes and help them break processes to measurable workflows that are automatable with the necessary support. It’s services include delivering End to End intelligent Managed IT services, fully-fledged business automation process support like software license sales and renewals, design and customization of process flows that will efficiently empower businesses to achieve more, data migration and protection, staff training and support and much more. It has also brought great value to the cloud solution offerings of 9mobile Telecommunication in Nigeria.
For more information, visit icit.ng today.