A – Z SME Network, a firm of consultants and entrepreneurs today held its inaugural monthly business forum. The inaugural forum focused on the export business in line with the current focus and drive of the Federal Government. The event which held at the Pataya, 30 Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island, attracted exporters, processors, consultants, farmers, bankers, insurers including OLAM, FCMB, Dobizness.Com and export information from NESP and USAID.
Explaining the essence of the forum, Mr. Olatunde Oyewole, Executive Director and Co-founder of A-Z SME Network stated that the Network was founded by three professionals from diverse backgrounds with the objective of assisting SME’s navigate the business terrain and be successful like their counterparts in other climes. The first major task of the Network, according to Mr. Oyewole, “is to light up the export business by bringing people in the sector to shed light on opportunities, processes and procedure of doing successful export business in tandem with the current economic drive”. He emphasized that the market for export business is very large and at the moment the country is barely scratching the surface. Thus, another focus of the network is to set up an interactive export forum for people to exchange ideas and seek ways of exporting more Nigerian goods.
Other speakers at the event included Mr. Ade Adefeko, Vice President and Head Corporate and Govt Relations of OLAM Limited, Mr. Raphael Imasuen, Trade Products Team Leader of FCMB Plc, Mr. Chimaobi Agwu of Dobizness.Com and Mrs. Feyikemi Odunuga of A – Z SME Network.
Mr. Agwu presented the Dobizness.Com Global business to business platform for Exporters, Suppliers, Manufacturers, Sellers, Importers and Buyers. According to him, gone are the days of crude scouting for export contracts through proposals and advertisements in the media which brings in limited results. Exporters and suppliers rely more on B2B platforms and Expos to strike important export deals, which according to him, is one reason for the success of Asian exporters. The Dobizness.Com B2B platform, according to him addresses the challenges of global exposure, market, buyers, trust, verification and inspection and business alerts needed for success in the export trade.
Mr. Imaseun of FCMB helped the forum participants appreciate the numerous export potentials in Nigeria and the process of export trade, the role of NESP, SON and NAFDAC where necessary. He said that SMEs’ account for more than 60% of exporters in Nigeria and with the increasing role of SMEs in the economy, the future portend better times for Nigerian exports. Stressing the country’s export business potential, he said Nigeria has 32 agro export commodities in high demand and 34 export mineral products out of which only 21 are currently exported. He encouraged exporters to focus on processes and quality of their products as that accounts for the difference in prices. To this end, he mentioned the OSOP (One State One Product) scheme of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NESP) to assist States in the Federation become viable players and enablers in the export business. He further enumerated FCMB’s export facility and other banking products meant for SMEs and Exporters.
In his presentation, Mr. Adefeko of OLAM Nigeria said that OLAM is the second largest exporter in Nigeria, second only to the oil and gas sector. And the company exports nothing but agro based products including Cocoa, Sesame seed, cotton, Cashew, etc. The annual export value from the company is in excess of $300 million from 26 agro products and employing over 4,250 Nigerians. The company has the largest rice mill (105 metric ton rice mill) in Africa sited in Nassarawa State in addition to other processing plants in Kaduna and Ibadan. The company empowers farmers and other SMES in the country through its Outgrower and supplier arrangement with farmers and businesses. Attesting to OLAM’s export success is the fact that it currently supplies products to Walmart of the USA, Nestle, Cadbury, and a host of other 16,000 customers worldwide.
Adefeko further explained that the company is the number one supplier of dehydrated onions in the World, the number one supplier of Cashew in the world and the number one Outgrower of almonds in the World. OLAM as an exporter currently operates in more than 70 countries, on 16 platforms and is listed on the Singapore stock exchange. Interestingly, it is stated that of the $800 million FDI that has come into Nigerian from January 2016 to date, more than half or $425 million is from OLAM, funds which the company invested in its purchase of Ranona Foods and Bua Mills. According to Mr. Adefeko, the success story of OLAM, which started as a one product company in Nigeria in 1989, is proof that other Nigerian exporters can succeed and become global leaders if they do the right things and follow the right processes, especially corporate governance.
Mrs. Feyikemi Odunuga of A – Z SME Network enjoined exporters to be familiar with Incoterms or International trading terms to avoid export difficulties. To ameliorate the challenges faced by exporters, She said that USAID has offered to assist Nigerian exporters with technical, registration and approval issues in connection with NAFDAC, SON and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States. This also includes quality standards, improvements and access to finance. Exporters wishing to lash in and take advantage of this offer from USAID have to get onto the A – Z SME Network and gain the support of the Network which is in collaborative agreement with USAID.
The forum ended with lots of interactions and business connections among the attendees. The next event is scheduled for August, 2016.