Focus on Nigeria’s 100 most proactive, result-driven CEOs in 2020 – Part five

 
Sat Apr 17th, 2021 - Abia
 

Even before the emergence of the pandemic, the outlook for the world economy – and especially developing countries like Nigeria – was fragile, as global GDP growth was estimated to be only 2.5% in 2020.

Based on this unanticipated and unpleasant reality, the consequences have been devastating and enormous on business organisations, a number of them have resorted to downsizing and laying off staff in order to cut down costs, improve operational capacity, and effectively deliver on set target.

However, despite the daunting challenges and dire outcome on the fortunes of many, some result-driven Chief Executives have been able to navigate their organizations to optimal operational effectiveness, efficiency, and visibility. These they have made possible through the application of ingenious management practices, prudent management of resources, as well as excellent, proactive and innovative solutions and ideas in achieving set goals and objectives

While they defy the apparent harsh economic environment by piloting the affairs of their companies to profitability, these exceptional men and women deserve recognition for their out-of-the-box innovations and enviable CSR interventions. Indeed, they deserve laurels in their efforts and contributions to the stability and growth of the nation’s economy, as well as modelling other upcoming businesses.

CHANTELLE ABDUL: Young, Innovative Amazon With Impactful Leadership in Nigeria’s Power Sector

Ms Chantelle Abdul is a consummate business woman, key power sector stakeholder and serial entrepreneur whose experience and reach despite her young age, traverses the globe – from America to Africa and Asia. As Managing Director/Chief Executive of Mojec International Holdings, Ms Abdul presides over a portfolio of companies that are leaders in their respective industries namely: Mojec Meter Asset Management Company, Virtuitis Solaris Power, Mojec Meter Company, Agriculture and the Meter Service Hub.

However, the role for which is most recognised is in her capacity as CEO, Mojec Meter Asset Management Company and Mojec Meter Company.

As the CEO, Mojec Power and MOJEC Meter Company, Ms Abdul led the growth of hitherto small family business into one of the most iconic brands in the Nigerian Power Sector today, as well as the largest Smart Meter Manufacturer in West Africa, and possibly Sub-Saharan Africa.

With the Corporate mantra: “Building A World of Possibilities” and “Powering Your World ” respectively, Ms Abdul has a vision to transform Nigeria and the continent improve the lives of Nigerians by providing “Power to the People” that would lead to economic transformation.

She aims to position the company to be one of the few indigenous companies floated on the London Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange. To do so, Ms Abdul has set out to build a strong indigenous company with a global outlook. She expanded the firm’s portfolio from Meter manufacturing to Power generation, transmission and distribution services.

One of her first achievements as the newly installed CEO of MOJEC International, was to raise millions of dollars to build one of Nigeria’s largest state-of-the-art Smart Meter Assembly Facility with an installed capacity of over 1.2 million meters, annually. Meanwhile, she is currently leading the firm to pioneer the first Electric city hub in the country where the current production scale will be doubled.

Under Ms Abdul’s leadership in the post-power sector privatisation era, Mojec is not only the largest meter manufacturer, but also the largest Meter Asset Provider (MAP) in Nigeria. The firm’s footprint and market share grew from 20% to 80%, with eight out of the eleven utilities in the country as clients. She built a nationwide network of engineers and installers across her 8 Distribution client zones with a manpower capacity of over 3000 men that saw the deployment of MOJEC’s Smart meters into hundreds of thousands of Nigerian homes pre- and post-MAP Era.

Today, MOJEC is not only the Market leader in meter manufacturing and meter services under the government-led Metering Initiative and Meter Asset Provider and the MAP Scheme to the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs), but it is also the leading large meter rollout partner to major utilities in the country. As a MAP, Mojec retails meters, installations and maintenance direct to end users, as well as provides financing.

With over a million meters in circulation and still counting, Ms Abdul’s immediate goal is to take the company from not just manufacturing Smart meters, but also producing the various components (circuit breakers, resistors, battery and offer ancillary products (meter boxes, cases) used in metering in Africa. Lastly, she has expanded the firm’s portfolio from Meter manufacturing to Power generation, transmission and distribution services.

Before joining MOJEC, Chantelle was the Vice President (Development) at The Executive Group (TEG) – a Washington-based Consulting Group known for bi-lateral trade and advisory in critical sectors.

In the bid to help increase the electrification rate in Nigeria, and deliver on the firm’s 2nd Mantra “Powering Your World”. MOJEC launched its Renewable Energy Initiative under the firm called Virtuitis Solaris with a mandate to deliver clean solar power generation and energy storage solutions to individuals and business owners, using a combination of solar powered appliances, solar panels, PV chillers.

Her first venture into Africa was the licence acquisition and rights to production and broadcast of the African version of Donald Trump’s acclaimed business series: The Apprentice Africa across the US, UK and Africa. She later went on to launch her own investment series called: The Billionaire Executive Series.

Ms Abdul, who graduated Cum Laude from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C, (a Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology and Economics), began her career with Solomon Smith Barney in Washington DC in 2002 and later at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in 2003-2004.

She has received several accolades and Awards including CEO of the Year, Recognition by the London Stock Exchange Group as one of the “Companies to Inspire Africa Award 2019”, The Nigerian Stock Exchange Next Bulls Awards. Female Power Sector Pioneer Award, Presidential Business Council’s global impact leadership award, voted “Top 3 Women In Power” within the ECOWAS region, amongst many others.

In 2015, she was one of the women selected across Africa by the UN and ECOWAS ECREE to feature in a documentary film about women entrepreneurs blazing the trail in male-dominated sectors like the power sector. Outstanding Woman in Power WAPIC Awards, the Next Bulls Award by Business Day.

She is a frequent speaker across leadership, entrepreneurship and international business circuit. Often asked to feature in industry-led conferences, panels and summits, Ms Abdul was nominated to join the President’s Economic Delegation to Beijing and India on the Nigerian Power sector.

In the bid to give back to Africa and its development, she partnered with a prestigious US organisation, to open HARATIO ALGERS NIGERIA, as well as raising funds to identify and finance young entrepreneurs focused on innovation.

With a passion to impact the lives of women and the youths in a male-dominated sector, Ms. Abdul helped launch the MOJEC Meter Installer Training Academy (MMITA) that trains women and young adults as distribution company engineers and installers, nationwide.

AHMED SALAWUDEEN: Discipline, Proactive Professional With A Knack For Excellence

Dr. Ahmed Olaniyi Salawudeen PresCEO SIC Pix

He is not just a disciplined and thoroughbred professional who has achieved success by dint of hard work, he has also carved a niche for himself as an authority to be reckoned with in the global insurance industry. His over four decades of active practice as a chartered insurer speaks volume about his ingenuity as a risk manager. Simply put, he is a grandmaster insurance advisor.

Dr. Ahmed Olaniyi Salawudeen, President/CEO, Standard Insurance Consultants Limited – a reputable insurance brokerage firm which he has piloted for over 40 years using his broad industry experience in insurance, reinsurance, loss adjusting and claims management. He is a frontline leader in the placement and management of various insurance risks including but not limited to oil and gas, aviation and space, special risks (kidnapping and ransom), marine hull cargo, protection and indemnity, as well as construction and operational hazards.

Salawudeen graduated from the College of Insurance Surbiton, Surrey (UK), where he qualified as a Chartered Insurance Practitioner in 1976. He is an associate member of the Chartered Insurance Institute of London, a Fellow of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria and The Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers. He is also an alumnus of Commonwealth University, Belize, where he bagged a doctorate degree in Management (Specializing in Insurance). He is also a Fellow, Commonwealth Academy of Leadership and Management.

Reminiscing on his professional journey, Salawudeen described the early days of the industry in Nigeria as “fascinating as the insurance industry was financially buoyant back then, such that it contributed enormously to the GDP of the country and was also lending funds to the banks.”

According to him, “In the 60s, 70s, and substantially 80s, the Nigerian insurance industry was doing very well economically, settling claims as and when due by the underwriters, had an excellent image, and practitioners worked as a team to make sure that the industry was best amongst equals.

To put Nigeria’s insurance industry at the forefront, a recommendation was made to the government at that time which brought about the establishment of the National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria and Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation. Regrettably, these two corporations have been sold to individuals who appear not to have any fragment knowledge of what the insurance business is all about.

Unfortunately, today, it appears everything has scattered and how we now found ourselves in this situation is very difficult to imagine. However, the lessons I have learnt throughout this journey are basically that trust, honour, commitment, credibility, and visionary leaders are very key in the successful operation of Insurance.”

Given his intellectual prowess in business sustainability, as well as his ability to recognise the impact of excellent service delivery towards the actualization of a successful business plan, Salawudeen has over the years arranged a team of experienced and tactful professionals who have contributed immensely in building trust and confidence among the ever-growing clientele of the company.

It is also interesting to note that the versatile CEO is a certified real estate broker and he gives direction as the President and Chief Property Investment Advisor of Signature Global Real Estate LLC, Dubai; a multinational real estate company with its headquarters in the heart of Dubai, UAE and associate offices across the globe.

Driven by an unfailing passion for the insurance business, Salawudeen explained that his vision is not limited to Standard Insurance Consultants Limited alone, but by extension the insurance industry in Nigeria. Therefore, in order to achieve this vision, he harped on provision of affordable medical insurance solutions for the teeming population, provision of housing needs, support for agricultural development, and visionary leadership.

Signature Global serves both local and international clients’ property requirements from commercial real estate brokerage to leasing and management, whilst ensuring attractive options to help prospective clients and investors make the right decision and protect their best interest at all times.

His resourcefulness also sees him sit on the board of FBS Reinsurance Limited, an indigenous reinsurance organization with the responsibility of providing clients with increased reinsurance capacity in the Nigeria insurance marketplace by offering facultative placements, bouquet of proportional and non-proportional treaty portfolios of large and medium sized insurers together with best-in-class retrocession arrangements.

Concerning the reasons behind the apathy towards insurance in Nigeria, Salawudeen submitted that the first issue is the lack of awareness about the importance of insurance among the populace, while the second is the battered image of the insurance industry.

Also, the perception of the insuring public is such that the insurance business in Nigeria can be likened to “legalized robbery” and this is totally unacceptable. Hence, there is an urgent need for the underwriters to put their respective houses in order and instil confidence in the insuring public by adhering strictly to the terms and conditions of their policies, while also ensuring the prompt payment of claims as and when the insured event occurs.”

A Melvin Jones Fellow and a full member of the Global Club of Leaders and Honourable Member, European Business Assembly (EBA) under the auspices of The Socrates Committee in Oxford, United Kingdom. Dr. Salawudeen was honoured by the World Confederation of Businesses (WORLDCOB) with the “World Leader Businessperson’ award in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, among other beneficiaries from all over the world.

“Power to create new things, our biggest asset at PFS” – Dr. Yele Okeremi

With a proactive and highly innovative business strategist like Dr. Yele Okeremi as its Chief Executive Officer, it did not come as a surprise to many keen watchers why Precise Financial Systems (PFS) Ltd has become a multiple award-winning software development company having footprints across the world.

A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (with Economics), Okeremi holds a Doctor of Business Administration degree from the Swiss Business School, Zurich, Switzerland having previously obtained a Master of Applied Business Research from the same institution.

He is an alumnus of the Wits Business School, Johannesburg, South Africa and Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA where he completed the Owner President Management Program. He is also an alumnus of INSEAD Fontainebleau, France, where he completed the International Directors Program and obtained the Certificate in Corporate Governance.

Prior to co-founding PFS with Philip Ayeni, a chartered accountant, Okeremi had a successful career at Inlaks Computers before he joined Industrial Bank Limited as a Programmer/Analyst. He was the Chief Information Officer at Industrial Bank before he left for Ventura Savings & Loans Limited as the Head, Systems and Logistics Department, a position he held till 1994.

A technology start-up advocate who is passionate about the black race and has continued to use his position to advocate that irrespective of the conditions of the black man, the black man is by no means inferior in intelligence to anyone else in the world, Okeremi is the immediate past President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON). He is also an Adjunct Professor of Business Strategy at the Nobel International Business School Accra, Ghana.

Strategies that have contributed to the growth of PFS

From the onset, we made up our mind as a company to always create value. We understood the fact that the world belongs to people who know how to solve problems. Since the establishment of PFS, one thing that hasn’t changed in our business plan is our why. The ‘why’ is that we may be black, but we are no less humans. We have the capacity to solve our own problems and create value. This has kept us going since March 1, 1994 till date, and even when I transit as the CEO, the same mantra will continue to drive us.

Acceptance of locally-developed softwares in Nigeria

It is actually getting better compared to when we started 27 years ago. Back then, nobody trusted us, but today, we are happy not because we have gone global, our biggest joy is that many companies have evolved and they are creating value. However, we still have lots of challenges.

For instance, there is no legislative framework in place to protect the software industry and we have come to realise that those who are in position to create policies and legislations never had the opportunity to create value. Therefore, their thinking is that nobody can create value which automatically shuts down the capacity to put the necessary policies and legislations in place. Even when you sit with them and mention local, they interpret it as inferior. They are not able to comprehend that something local can become world-class.

Foreign investment in Nigerian tech start-ups

We keep having foreign corporations investing in the Nigerian technology space because there is not enough knowledge to prompt local investors. Generally, people are unlikely to put their savings into what they do not know. The kind of society we live in is one that is trying to build wealth without knowledge which is very risky. There has never been a deliberate effort by our leaders to create knowledge for wealth because we are endowed with natural resources and this is why we keep relying on foreign products.

FPS’s exciting products

FPS’s most exciting products are not yet out. Nevertheless, our biggest asset is the power to create new things out of nothing. Our excitement is not in the successes of the past, but in the possibilities of the future when given the opportunity. However, we have quite a number of products that have put us on the global map. An example is the National Automated Clearing System (NACS) used by NIBSS, which was 100 percent developed by us. On the global stage, Bobsguide – the largest fintech directory worldwide celebrated PFS’ account reconciliation solution (CLIREC) as the highest ranking and best accounts management solution in 2019.

Deepening presence globally

Our main goal has always been to play globally and it is playing out already with our world-class solutions running on several computers in 37 countries worldwide. To further deepen our presence, we just need to adapt what other successful companies before us have done. The plan is to engage channel partners in several countries. We cannot have booth in every country, but we can have troops.

How Vava became furniture giant in Nigeria by Tawadrous

Since government’s decision to place embargo on the importation of furniture into Nigeria in order to protect the local manufacturers, the result is a thriving furniture industry in the country. Meanwhile, one company that stands out amongst the rest is VAVA.

Founded by Ambassador Michael Tawadrous, VAVA Furniture (a subsidiary of the VAVA Group), is one of the leading businesses in manufacturing of wholesale/retail furniture, and interior designs.

A former Nigeria’s Special Envoy, World Fund for Development and Planning (WFDP) – United Nations, OSAA in Nigeria and an official Representative of the United Nations (UN) for the IGO Executive Committee, Amb. Tawadrous, is also a Counsellor at the International Court of Arbitration, as well as Peace Ambassador, Universal Peace Federation, and SDG Ambassador (‘Teachers Without Borders’), in recognition of his contributions to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Speaking about his personal background and the passion that brought his career to life, Tawadrous said experience has created an edge for his company in designing, building and construction of both furniture and interior decoration.

According to him, “Years ago, when I was invited as an expatriate for a furniture company in Nigeria, I was apprehensive of the enormous change from my comfort zone to an unfamiliar terrain, especially by the information perpetuated by the media on the status of Nigeria’s political, economic and security instabilities.”

In his words, “These stories were quite worrisome that my family, friends and relatives discouraged my relocation. However, arriving Nigeria with an enclosed mindset, it was surprising to see that the picture painted about the country was inaccurate. Apart from being the largest market in Africa, Nigerians were incredibly nice, warm and welcoming. Instantly, I felt at home and knew I was meant to be here.”

Tawadrous noted that his vision was “to add value to the sustainable development of Nigeria’s economy by providing employment opportunities for her people. Thus, in line with the local content development, VAVA has employed over 1,000 workforce since its inception and more in view.

It was of great importance for VAVA as an organization to engage in training and upskilling of personnel, thereby improving their capability and expertise. It feels satisfying to see individuals who had previously worked with VAVA thrive in other areas of their personal development.”

Concerning the magic behind the phenomenal growth and significant strength of his company, the award-winning entrepreneur stated that certain standards established at VAVA has made it a highly brand in the Nigerian Furniture and Interior Decoration Industry. These include offering the premium quality furniture at an affordable price.

In terms of strategy, he said “intermittent challenges and in contrast to our competitors who import finished products, we drive cost optimization and promotion of local labour to produce locally-made premium quality products that can stand the test of time.

Aside sourcing our raw materials from diverse countries and enabling best quality at best prices. VAVA’s excellent customer services, efficiency and planning are key parts of our brand elements. Furthermore, our human capital development differentiates us from others (although this is a more internal).

We have robust and consistent training and development programs for our employees in line with modern business practice. It is also a deliberate effort by VAVA to maintain 93 percent indigenous workforce, which is at least up to 35 percent greater than any other furniture company (operating at our level) in Nigeria.”

In his submission, the Vava boss said “Like every other business, there are challenges, but we have fashioned a way to deal with these numerous obstacles. It is never an issue for us to take the next step at our level of development. The rapid outbreak of the COVID-19, presents both alarming health crisis and also a significant economic, business and commercial impact being felt worldwide.

During the lockdown, we switched to the use of all available virtual tools and resources. We leveraged on our online platforms to meet up with customers’ demands. From our analysis, people were able to see the need for comfortability at their various homes. When the lockdown eased off, the demand for office furniture increased. This is due to people adapting to the new ways of working from home, thereby availing themselves with the right tools and setup. VAVA furniture was able to meet with these demands.”

Provision of services during this COVID -19 pandemic had to be thought carefully. The company ensured to deliver to customers effectively without compromising safety. We strictly adhere to all COVID-19 protocols including mandatory wearing of mask, regular washing of hands, maintaining physical as well as social distance.

Meanwhile, a young entrepreneur aspiring to make it to the top in Nigeria must have self-discipline, integrity, persistence is a strong quality, a clear sense of direction, decisive and action-oriented

Lastly, government must encourage the success of the local content policy and protect indigenous companies by discouraging importation of manufactured goods, encourage entrepreneurial activities, adequate power supply as a key element in attracting more foreign investors, and provision of indigenous industries soft loans and grants.

ONUR KUMRAL: A Portrait of Consistent, Dynamic, Visionary and Impactful Entrepreneur in Nigeria

He is an astute professional, an investor per excellence, and a world class businessman who delivers his job with dexterity, with attention to details, quality and timely delivery. These attributes, no doubt, have invariably established and sustained his brand and gave him an iconic identity in the world of construction and manufacturing. That man is Onur Kumral.

Apart from being an immutably gifted manager and a quintessence of resourcefulness, Onur is an embodiment of innovation, ingenuity, diligence, tenacity and prudence.

Born 42 years ago from the great Kumral family in Turkey, Onur obtained his first degree in Civil Engineering from the Istanbul Technical University, Turkey in 2000, and having served as Project Manager at different construction firms over the years, he sits today as the Managing Director/CEO, VKS Group Nigeria.

Through his company, VKS Group, massive and life-saving projects have been successfully completed with cumulative worth of over $750 million in various parts of the world including Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates. The company also has active operations and branch offices in Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Libya.

Based on his foresight, Onur saw the need to berth his ship of investment on the shores of the most populated country in Africa, Nigeria on May 6, 2015. Under the VKS Group, he set up VKS Nigeria Construction Limited which has successfully handled renowned construction projects across the country.

After many successes recorded in the construction industry, Onur Kumral, ventured into manufacturing and established Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Limited in 2017. The syringe factory produces at a capacity of 1.2 million units of syringes daily. Furthermore, in 2019, he founded Kings Flour Mill Limited, with the flour factory turning out 500 metric tons per day. The two factories were inaugurated by His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in September 2017 and 2019, respectively.

In 2017, before the full commencement of operation by Jubilee Syringe, Mr. Onur had contributed to deepening the local content policy of the Federal Government by sponsoring the advanced training of twelve Nigerians on Injection Machine Operation, Quality Control, Maintenance of Mole, amongst other technologies in Turkey. Today, more Nigerians have gotten proficiency in this area of business as part of Onur’s keen attention to training and retraining of staff at all level.

However, when the winds of COVID-19 pandemic blew across the globe, businesses were saturated with uncertainties and dire consequences and disruptions. Nigeria, like other countries experienced a lockdown which resulted in many businesses struggling or ultimately failing. Even, after the lockdown was lifted, many companies could not sustain the negative effects of the disruptions. Thus, in a bid to cut down cost, many staff were laid-off.

Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics’ report states that 42 percent of citizens were thrown out of work due to the pandemic. Similarly, the Bureau reported that Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose from 27.1 percent in Q2 of 2020 to 33.3 percent in Q4 of 2020 which translates to 23.19 million unemployed people in the country!

Yet, stemming from his proactive, result-driven leadership and management acumen, Onur has propelled VKS above COVID-19-induced economic woods to optimal operational effectiveness. Hence, the 1,724 staff of VKS Group (that is, VKS Nigeria Construction Limited – 1,045; Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing (JSM) – 364; Kings Flour Mill – 315), who were with the company before the pandemic, are still intact enjoying the dividends of superior business leadership.

What is more! At a period of health emergency with syringe needs of the country estimated between 1.5 billion and 2 billion units per annum, Onur has piloted Jubilee Syringe to accentuate itself as the largest manufacturer of disposable syringes in Africa. JSM has an annual syringe production capacity of over 400 million units ranging from 2ml, 5ml, and 10ml.

On 5th March, 2021, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), endorsed Jubilee Syringe for producing the best syringes in the country and one of the very best in the world. With this development, JSM has placed itself capable of addressing the syringe needs of the country and in the process discourage capital flight through Syringe importation into Nigeria.

Based on the foregoing, it then becomes crystal clear why the result-driven VKS Group’s CEO made a strong statement in the flour business with the Kings Flour Mill Ltd – VKS’ second industrial investment that became fully operational at the beginning of 2020.

Today, Kings Flour has become the leading flour brand in the Nigeria’s South-South region. Thus, with an estimated annual need of 5.4 million tonnes of flour in Nigeria, Kings Flour came handy even in the heat of COVID-19. Its product and few others became the key factors in ameliorating food scarcity in the county.

Indeed, Onur Kumral’s adaptability to dynamic business imperatives in a period of pandemic has led to the tremendous successes he has recorded as a CEO. Through his business decisions, he has proved that business leaders and brands can champion the principles that put employees and customers’ well-being before profits, build philanthropy into part of the corporate structure, and invest in ways to make the workplace and host communities better environment.

This was exemplified when VKS stood out in doling palliatives to many communities and groups in the South-South region during the 2020 lockdown.

The strides recorded by Onur in VKS Group amidst the threat of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s economy, and the huge employment he has created for Nigerians have shown glaringly that he deserves more accolades amongst Nigeria’s 100 Most Proactive, Result-Driven CEOs who stood tall in the year, 2020.

How innovation has driven Inlaks’ growth as Africa’s leading fintech provider by Adeoti

Established in 1982, Inlaks – an Information Technology Systems Integrator is foremost in the deployment of dynamic and highly scalable ICT Infrastructure Solutions. With a clientele cutting across various segments including Banking, Telecommunication, Oil/Gas, Power, Utilities, and the Distribution sectors of the Nigerian economy, Inlaks has expanded its operations into East Africa with a regional branch in Nairobi, Kenya in response to increased demand for technology-enabled and self-service financial operations in Africa. The company also has presence in Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Cameroon, and plans to penetrate new markets in the Sub-Saharan African region.

According to Femi Adeoti, Managing Director/CEO, Africa Operations, Inlaks Computers Limited, “We are committed to driving technological evolution with positive impact on businesses and the economy. Our almost four decades of industry experience has resulted in consistent growth to achieve the leadership position it holds today as the foremost ICT and Infrastructure solutions provider across Africa with offices in Ghana Nigeria and Kenya.”

He explained further that “By focusing our efforts on specific industries in this region, we have built our expertise and reputation, becoming the number one supplier of information technology solutions and also a one-stop solutions hub to our customers. As our customers’ requirements continue to evolve, we also constantly upgrade and develop new solutions based on a thorough knowledge of our industries, economies and clients’ businesses.”

A technology visionary with a proven track record of business growth through deep customer engagement built on the vast understanding of business verticals, and possesses, Femi has an extensive industry experience spanning over 29 years.

Aside his first degree in Electronics Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University and an MBA in International Finance from the University of Liverpool, he is an alumnus of Harvard Business School. He also holds certificates from the Lagos Business School in Marketing and Project Management, among other trainings both locally and internationally. He is a Member, Institute of Directors (IoD) and an honorary Member, Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN).

A result-driven CEO with unique ability to build on a foundation of existing assets and resources to reignite innovation and drive growth, Femi has, through his leadership capabilities, led Inlaks into its current position of being the foremost ICT and Infrastructure Solutions Provider, assisting customers to effectively seize new market and service opportunities.

Prior to Inlaks, he has served as Head of Regional Sales (West Africa) for Cisco Systems where he had the responsibility of establishing Cisco Systems as a leading global ICT Organization in Africa.

In addition, he was involved with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Computer Warehouse Group, where he was instrumental in delivering key IT solutions to leading clients in Financial, Oil & Gas and Telecommunications Segments. He has also worked with Comtec Systems in New Jersey, USA, where he implemented a new and strategic technology platform to drive global infrastructure.

Today, Inlaks has an impressive customer base that includes six Central Banks in West Africa, 18 of the 24 banks in Nigeria and other major customers in the West African region. His deep understanding of business requirements and ability to reignite innovation and drive growth, has made Inlaks the dominant Information Technology Company in Africa offering differentiated information technology-enabled solutions to maximise customers’ value.

Recently, Validata and Inlaks entered into an agreement on future Temenos projects. The partnership is aimed at providing AI-powered digital automation by pairing Validata Technologies with Inlaks’ regional expertise to assist banks and financial institutions in implementing intelligent test automation and test data management among others, thus maximizing test and risk coverage, and delivering digital experiences.

Femi is a winner of the 2020 Top CEOs & Next Bulls Awards, an award that recognises CEOs of listed companies creating competitive shareholder value through sound strategy, disciplined execution, and world class governance.

Similarly, apart from being the “ICT Company of the Year” at the Beacon of ICT Awards at least three times in four years, consecutively, Inlaks also won two awards in the 2020 edition of the Beacon of ICT Awards winning both the ICT Business Integrator of the Year award and Customer Focused ICT Company of the year.

As a demonstration of its achievement of excellence in the delivery of financial services across the customer spectrum, Inlaks was named the Financial Inclusion Platform of the Year implementation partner of the Integrated National Association of Microfinance Banks Unified IT Platform (NAMBUIT) at the eighth edition of the prestigious Banks’ and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards 2020 by Businessday Media Limited.

The NAMBUIT platform runs on Temenos T24 Inclusive Banking Suite (IBS) with implementation being managed by Inlaks built for NIRSAL Microfinance Bank. It is the platform being used by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in disbursing the N50bn COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility to support Households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Inlaks has other arrays of products including SNAP; a web based Offline Banking Solution system developed to ensure business continuity in banks using Temenos Core Banking Solution (T24). The solution is a backup system for branches, to be used when communication to the Central system or Cloud is interrupted.

As part of its Social Corporate Responsibility, Inlaks runs an Academy that offers technical training with the aim of reducing Nigeria’s unemployment rate. The academy trains and equips youths for a career in the Tech industry.

Inlaks has also launched the hatch, an innovation Lab to enhance capacity building, mentorship, and networking that will serve as building blocks for the next generation of software developers. thehatch Code Academy offers free software training program.

Previously, Inlaks partnered the Eye Foundation Hospital, Hope for Sight Initiative and AOS Orwell, to conduct free eye surgery for hundreds of Ogun State residents suffering from cataract. It also donated power and information technological equipment to Lagos State government at the Onikan Isolation Centre as its contribution towards tackling the COVID-19 global pandemic in Nigeria.

EBI ENAHOLO: Result-Oriented, Astute and Distinguished Leader with Vision

One of a few Nigerian business leaders whose resourcefulness and innovative thinking have set them apart as models of competence and resourcefulness, is Mr. Ebi Enaholo, Managing Director, Mainstreet Capital Limited – one of Nigeria’s young investment firms making significant strides in the Investment Banking and Asset Management Sub-sector.

His knack for excellence, combined with result-oriented management style, is transforming MCL into a vanguard in the financial services sector.

An alumnus of the Ambrose Alli University and the Lagos Business School, as well as a Fellow, Association of Investment Advisers and Portfolio Managers, Enaholo is an astute investment banker with over 21 years’ experience that cuts across financial advisory, project finance, securities analysis, and mergers and acquisitions, among others.

In his assessment of the Nigerian financial landscape in the last 5 years, he submitted that “The financial services industry has been a mixed bag. The macro-economic environment has been tough as the country slid into a recession twice in only five years. We know that the second recession was induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there was a positive upturn in the economy with the fourth quarter of 2020 signaling an exit from the recession.”

He noted that “The capital market has seen its fair share of highs and lows with several devaluations to the Naira. We saw a plethora of events unfold including the merger between Access Bank and Diamond Bank, the listing by introduction of MTN, and the dual listing by AIRTEL Africa.

Furthermore, the equities market has been volatile with bull and bust cycles. The Nigerian Stock Exchange’s All Share Index returned 42.3% in 2017 and 50.0% in 2020, largely driven by cherry-picking and position taking in the large caps. On the other hand, the fixed income market has been resilient with yields peaking to as high as 20.0% in 2017 and dipping to low single digits in the bond market, and even extending into the negative territory in the treasury bills market.

Overall, the capital market has been negatively skewed. Nonetheless, we believe that there are specific factors that will determine the pace of economic activity in the coming years. Two of which include the pace of fiscal and monetary policy and the direction of crude oil price.”

Enaholo added that “While insight and discernment are key qualities of a good leader, they are not all there is. Great leaders distinguish themselves through their actions and ability to manage crises. The COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest crisis of last year, one that irreparably altered the business landscape, forcing innovative companies around the world to redefine what normal means. MCL wasted no time in leveraging technology to automate their processes, optimizing their workflows, and instituting policies flexible enough to adapt to the changing ecosystem.”

to him, “In this brave new post-pandemic world, normal for Mainstreet means fewer working hours and more productivity. The company has adopted a hybrid system between ‘Working From Home’ (WFH) and the traditional work culture. As such, the new policy allows staff to work from home for two days a week with work hours being reduced as more focus is given to targets and KPIs. This has created more autonomy and responsibility for staff and encourages innovative thinking and dedication.

MCL staff are also encouraged and incentivized to go beyond their core work and be more involved in process and product development, social events, knowledge sharing, and even branding and company culture. We now maintain the technologically-enhanced processes developed for the lockdown, alongside the optimized and lean workflows.”

Although the young firm is already making an impact in the sub-sector, it is aware of the road ahead as Enaholo identified erratic regulatory policies, managing digital transformations, an unstable financial terrain, and increasingly complex future scenarios as the major challenges facing the investment banking sector of Nigeria.

However, his confidence in his team is unwavering as he disclosed that “We have built our brand around a dynamic team and a shared ideology of commitment and professionalism. We have built a culture of trust, leadership, and ownership that has birthed an innovative environment where the creation of value-adding ideas drives our esteemed clients to the right turn.

In terms of sustainability, we will concentrate our efforts on creating long-term value and building genuine relationships with our clients. We desire to align our interest with those of our clients who we have served since inception.”

According to the MCL’s boss, “the company’s medium to long-term plan to become a merchant bank offering services that will benefit our client base both locally and in the international space. We hope to do more to support various growth sectors that can add immense value to our economy.

Although the infrastructure base is extremely weak, we believe that much can be done to improve this, and it will, in turn, lead us to become a prosperous nation.”

ENGR. VICTOR ADEDIJI: Seasoned Professional, Creating Solutions In The Power Sector

He is a resourceful professional whose passion for quality service has seen him achieve resounding success in the engineering profession. Engr. Victor Adebowale Adediji Managing Director/CEO, ADVAD Limited – a rapidly growing indigenous power and electrical infrastructure company positioned to provide services to the oil and gas, energy, public, private and industrial sectors of the Nigerian economy.

A project manager cum civil engineer with over 20 years working experience, Adediji is well-grounded in technical consultancy and advisory, EPC contracting projects which includes but not limited to thermal gas turbine power plants, HV/MV/LV substation projects, gas processing plants, flow stations, building and civil construction, tank fabrication, fuel gas and diesel interconnecting pipeline and HV/LV electrical projects.

A registered engineer and Member, Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, (COREN), Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) and the Nigeria Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE), Adediji has taken the lead role or overall project responsibility for several green field and brown field projects. He is the project manager for the ongoing 37MW Energizing Education Project (Seven solar Hybrid and Two Gas Fired EEP PHASE I) power projects for nine Federal Universities and Teaching Hospitals across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones.

More importantly, he has effectively been in project management since 2004 to date managing project delivery teams, supervising project execution, interfacing with clients, consultants, OEMs/equipment vendors and sub-contractors.

Driven by the vision to be the most desirable and sought-after company when services in the power and energy industries are needed, he disclosed that the company which was established in 2009 with the aim of providing engineering consultancy services to companies in the power sector has over the years grown to become a full-fledged engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) enterprise providing services to companies and institutions in the oil, gas, power, renewable energy and industrial sectors of the Nigerian economy through a focused-driven and quality service delivery to its clients.

With track record of excellent service delivery made possible by a team of industry-recognized professionals, today, ADVAD under his watch has been involved in various power related projects across the country for its wide range of customers.

A purpose-driven CEO with a robust industry experience, his expertise as seen him work as a consultant for Nigeria Infrastructural Advisory facility (NIAF), Policy Development Facility (PDF II), DAI Nigeria Limited and USAID Power Africa Project (Nigeria Power Sector Programme).

Adediji is well-experienced in contract negotiation/close-out, project pre-development activities such as coordinating preparation of project feasibility studies, Environmental Social Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA) and bid package preparation and evaluation.

His career has seen him take overall project responsibility for a number of projects across the country, prominent among these in the last ten years include: Project Manager for ongoing 37MW Energizing Education Project (Seven Solar Hybrid and Two Gas Fired EEP Phase I) power projects for nine Federal Universities and Teaching Hospitals across Nigeria’s Six Geopolitical Zones; Project Director, 9.5MW Gas Fired Ariaria Independent Power Plant Project, Phase 1, Aba, Abia State (2017-2018); Project Manager, 6.5MW Pennisula Independent Gas Fired Power Plant and 22kM Underground Distribution Network, Lekki, Lagos State (2012-2015); Project Manager, EPC/Commissioning of 9.6MW Island Power Gas Fired Power Plant, Marina, Lagos (2011)

GBENGA SOKEFUN: A Champion, Standing Tall In Promoting African Continental Trade

With his first degree in Law from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), an LLM in International Law at the Washington College of Law, American University in Washington DC, and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) at the same university, Gbenga Sokefun, the Managing Director at Nigerian Ropes PLC, has a remarkable personality and pragmatic approach to key things in life

His natural talent and desire are well demonstrated in his compelling business acumen in operational management, strategic business growth with a deep bias for international trade. Prime on his mind is the preparedness of Nigeria to take full advantage of the African Continental Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) – the largest trade agreement since the creation of the WTO. This is an agreement that a continental market of 1.2billion people of precolonial historical trade footprints.

Sokefun’s belief in the success of the AFCFTA signed by the Nigerian government is very real. In a recent BBC documentary interview, the Nigerian Ropes’ boss noted that “The continental trade agreement should be used to encourage African countries to expedite infrastructure development, especially that of the logistics landscape to prepare the company for the activities of the intra-historical African trade.”

He spoke further that “having traded across Africa on carmel and horseback efficiently during the precolonial era, Africa should wake up and create a new age infrastructure plan to resume this trade that was converted to a selfish drain to Europe. There should be an infrastructure development framework that each participating country would adhere to and jointly pay for.”

“The framework should give set timelines for each country within the trade block to complete its allocated share of the requisite infrastructure for the full implementation of the trade regime”, he added.

In his submission, Sokefun called for careful negotiation of the anti-dumping guidelines to avoid Nigeria falling into hidden dumping traps that could seriously threaten local industries. In his words, “Whilst we anticipate the ingenious benefits of the AFCFTA, we cannot jump into it prematurely. We as a nation should prepare our industries for the coming boom. If we do not, our Nigerian industries may be threatened by the influx of competing goods produced in countries with lower production costs.”

He advised that the “legal framework for dispute resolution should really be given proper thought and deep attention.

When the intra-trade regime kicks off, it is important Nigeria understands the legal regime and processes set for dispute resolution. There is bound to be a large number of international disputes, particularly at the teething stages.

Nigeria has a lot to do to prepare for this great opportunity both in its policy harmonization and realistic creation of the legal landscape in anticipation of the operations of the agreement.”

Expectedly, his company, Nigerian Ropes is aggressively restructuring its systems in preparation to take advantage of AFCFTA that would “provide inclusivity and sustainable development” across the continent. One of such is training a bilingual sales team capable of rising above the language barriers that could create problems when the regime is in full operation.

Established sixty years ago, Nigerian Ropes PLC is a leading indigenous company focused on manufacturing ropes and cordage technology. Having built a strong reputation for quality and unique customer service, its services cover oil and gas, maritime, energy and construction sectors.

A manufacturer of a wide range of fibre and steel ropes, webbing and rope slings, cargo nets, gangway nets, jack up ladder, vehicle tow ropes and ratchet lashings etc. and supplies associated fittings and lifting equipment, the company has been a champion in the continent for almost six decades of operation.

According to Sokefun, “We stand tall and are putting things in place to increase productivity and create efficient strategies to be able to penetrate the African market.”

 
 

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source: Guardian