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Providing a unique humanitarian business model

By NnamdiNwokolo
29 January 2016   |   5:00 am
WHAT influenced your choice of career? It was fashionable to either choose medicine or engineering as a career during my time. I pursued sciences and I saw quite a number of people from my community who were doctors and were doing well. So, my desire was to be a doctor first and foremost but as…
Dr. Tunde Lawal

Dr. Tunde Lawal

WHAT influenced your choice of career? It was fashionable to either choose medicine or engineering as a career during my time. I pursued sciences and I saw quite a number of people from my community who were doctors and were doing well. So, my desire was to be a doctor first and foremost but as time went by and the time we were filling our JAMB form, several options were available but someone suggested that people are doing well in veterinary medicine; I was curious because a lot of people were saying that veterinary medicine is difficult. A friend said we should go for the difficult one as we would’ve been seen to be different; though that my friend ended up studying Geology but I went ahead to study veterinary medicine. And looking back today, I thank God for what veterinary medicine had done for me.

Motivation to set up Turner Wright Limited:

Aside being a doctor, my dream was to work in a corporate environment and move up the ladder and become a corporate guru, probably retiring as a Director of a blue chip organization. But it seems fate has a different plan for me. Early in my professional life, I met a white man who brought his dog for treatment at the clinic where I practised; he obviously was impressed with my skill set that we became friends instantly. Two or so years into the relationship, I had issues with my boss and I had to look for another job. Of course I approached the white gentleman who had now become a director at May&Baker.

A vacancy came up six months after I met him and I was given a Sales Rep position in the company after having gone through the normal recruitment process. The job was as exciting as it was challenging and within six years, I have risen to become the Head of the Animal Health business of the organization. My experience in this position fired up the entrepreneurial spirit in me and I decided to incorporate Turner Wright Limited and kept it for future use. As fate would have it, there was a major shift in the business strategy for our Principal Merial SAS at the end of the last millennium and Turner Wright naturally became the choice as the sole distributor of Merial, one of the largest manufacturers of Veterinary Medicine in the world. That marked the beginning of the journey which saw us becoming a household name in the Nigeria agroveterinary industry.

On the biggest challenge:

Naturally funding was fundamental and is still a problem as things are getting worse by the day. At some point in the life of our business, we seemed to have stabilized but we are back to the challenge now. I started the business with personal funding and because I’m a perpetually optimistic person, I was able to grow the business organically to where we are today. The biggest challenge we face today is the inability to get FOREX to do the business. We are doing a little bit of manufacturing here, but because of the level of development of our petrochemical industry, all the raw materials for the little efforts we are making at manufacturing are imported.

The other challenge is infrastructure; here we are talking about the sorry state of our roads and power supply. A situation where generators have become the main supply of power and PHCN the standby source of energy is lamentable. Imagine the amount of money we would’ve spent in getting and maintaining a 250KVA and 135KVA generator for this relatively small business.

Assessment of the industry:

The Agroveterinary industry is a fledgling one and I always tell people that it is a sure industry. It may not be the most prestigious or fashionable occupation, but it is theoccupation for now and the future. The importance of agriculture to the development of the economy cannot be overemphasized as food is the most important need of man and you cannot talk about the food chain without veterinary inputs. The irony of it all is that in Africa, people still see veterinary medicine as medicine for cats and dogs,but if you look at the opportunities that abound in the industry, you’ll find out that it is a versatile one indeed. Food is the number one need of man and anybody that is involved in food production in one way or the other is sure of being relevant and from that point of relevance, I see even the sky not being the limit for the industry. People have realized that we need to go back to agriculture and animal agriculture is key as it is responsible for producing about 25% of the food needs of the people.

On the opportunities in the industry:

The challenge is that every Nigerian wants to be in white collar employment where they’ll become millionaires overnight. If that is what people are looking for, I don’t think the opportunities are in this industry, but if the focus is to get into something fulfilling and overtime become a responsible member of the society, the Agrovet industry is the place to be. In terms of the potentials, the industry is opening up seriously as all indicators are showing growth with more people engaging in agriculture. We shall see more poultry farms springing up and existing ones getting bigger, this will automatically translate to more jobs for the people.

Unique Selling Point:

Our collaboration with Merial Group (Merial SAS and Coophavet, France), and Trouw nutrition/ Selko (Netherlands) as well as our local manufacturing endeavours have all served us in good stead. Turner Wright Limited is in the vanguard of the improvement of livestock health and nutrition by supplying veterinary medicine and vaccines of proven quality into the market in Nigeria and parts of West Africa. The quality of our products and the professionalism with which we handle the supplies make us stand out. We are guided by a unique humanitarian entrepreneurship business model, whose “profit for purpose” approach has turned humanitarian responsibilities into a core business.

Maintaining standards:

We are regulated by NAFDAC and as a rule; I’m a man of standards. Our standards at Turner Wright Limited are in tandem with cGMP. We are ISO certified and are guided by Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in our operations.

On the driving force:

I am always guided by a defining essence, meaning, there’s always a goal and I try to keep my eyes on the ball. The goals for 2016 have been set and if I’m getting result, I’m motivated to do more. I also want to use this medium to advise young professionals to stay focused, remain credible, work by the rules and try to be profitable without necessarily having to cheat.