The Guardian’s Special Focus on Nigeria’s Most Enduring and Iconic Brands: Part 3
A brand is more than a name, mark, logo, icon or catchphrase. It is a promise, and successful brands deliver on their promises. They tell consumers what value they add through their products/services and deliver to the expectation of their customers. It is by delivering on the promises that they create value.
In his book, How to Build an Enduring Brand Like a Boss, Christopher Jan Benitez noted: “If you want to build a successful business, you first have to build a strong brand. An awesome product at a competitive price is great and needed, but those two things alone won’t get you the sales you need to be a profitable business for the long haul – but a strong brand will.”
Building a lasting brand has been the major challenge of business organisations in Nigeria, considering the highly competitive business environment in which they operate. However, some brands are synonymous with the business narrative and economic growth of the country.
Undoubtedly, these brands have transcended their products or services categories to become part of the popular culture. They have become iconic, by setting themselves apart from others, and continue to inspire an enduring affection among the populace.
Therefore, in spite of palpable daunting challenges, there brands have shown tremendous leadership in their sectors, across corporate Nigeria, and have earned sufficient brand equity.
In this Special Independence Anniversary edition and in our tradition of celebrating excellence, we showcase a number of Most Enduring and Iconic Brands in Nigeria, viz: Rack Centre; Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC; Flutterwave; Monaplex; Adeptus Communications Ltd; and The Solar House.
Founded in 2012, Rack Centre is the first carrier-neutral Tier III Constructed Facility Certified data centre in Africa and focuses solely on providing best-in-class data centre colocation services and unrestricted interconnection between carriers and customers. This gives customers a technically superior, physically more secure and lower-cost environment for their information systems.
Rack Centre’s carrier neutrality allows customers to manage traffic to get better value, lower latency and higher resilience and creates an open market for partnerships between customers, networks, cloud and content providers, the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria and managed service providers.
As a clear industry leader, Rack Centre clients include over 53 telecommunication carriers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), global Tier 1 network and pan-Africa international carriers, including direct connection to all 5 undersea cables serving the South Atlantic Coast of Africa and every country on the Atlantic coast of Africa.
While assessing the communication and digital economy landscape in Nigeria, Ezekiel Egboye, Rack Center’s Chief Operations Officer explained that the impact of ICT and digital economy in the last ten years is significant. In his words, “I have been part of the ICT for that period and witnessed tremendous growth, not just in capacity but also in contribution to the GDP. Equally, the sector has always been top five contributors to the Nigerian economy. The National Bureau of Statistics gave us some clear indications that in 2022, ICT contributed approximately 18.4 % of Nigeria’s GDP. That’s tremendously high and improving, year to year.
Furthermore, it is important to duly recognize the impact of ICT in the digital economy sector, which has led to the introduction of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) years ago and the Office Of National Content. These departments have greatly promoted ICT and helped to develop policies and programmes that have contributed immensely to how ICT has been operated, encouraged, and appraised from the Nigerian perspective. That has also led to other key players and governance that are being put in place.”
Egboye spoke further that “the newly created Nigerian Data Protection Board is an initiative which clearly has also contributed immensely to the way ICT is being produced and how contents are being consumed, distributed, as well as from the data center perspective which is where we play very strongly. The ICT and digital economy have now started to really recognize our validation center services as one of the national critical infrastructures – every aspect of technology actually seats in on the data center. Without the data center you cannot have a stable ICT environment.
Therefore, it is only fair for us to agree that the data center is a core Nigerian infrastructure. So, when we look at the data center over the last ten years, we can see that there has been tremendous growth in the numbers and entrance into the data center sector compared to and way back a decade ago. Irrespective of a few very credible communication services, today it actually tremendously great for the economy because they also provide capacity to the wider economy. There have been clear contributions from different data centers, enhancing how business operations across the various value chain in the country have been performed.”
Concerning the well-recorded achievements of Rack Center in the last couple of years, Egboye noted that it has been a great journey despite the challenges faced at the inception when shareholders tried to bring in colocation services into Nigeria, at a time when the country was really struggling to have good colocation services.
He pointed out that Rack Center “is built on four principles of INTEGRITY – that is, we do what we promised. We are very transparent in our business dealings; we follow clear government processes. The second is EXCELLENCE – in whatever we do, there is excellence in quality of service at every point within our value chain of business. Third, TEAM – we work as a very well-structured team; promote teamwork; celebrate individuals and ensure that the team have the right tools; work collectively and achieve a common goal in business. Fourth is LEADERSHIP – we always believe that as a business and a reputable brand, we must always maintain top leadership, not just within our business environments but externally, outside of the largest economy.”
He added “These four key principles are what the brand has been built on. The brand has focused in the last ten years on providing the best in world class services to its clients, not just in Nigeria but across the globe. Our brand today is not just a local brand but an international brand across the entire world. and we are proud to be in that brand recognition representing Nigeria as well. Therefore, the main objective of our positioning is clearly as said by top leadership to drive the development of this type of infrastructure not just in Nigeria but across Africa. We take that very seriously.”
Meanwhile, in terms of our success trajectory, he noted that success speaks for itself. Our business was already built when went into operation in 2013 and over the last nine years, we are the only data center that has 100% uptime since inception, and presence, today. Regardless of the obvious challenges with Power in our business environment power – is the critical infrastructure that is lacking in Nigeria. Nevertheless, we have been able to deliver our services without a single downtime!
According to him, “As a facility, Rack Centre has continuously grown in line with the capacity demand. Hence, in the last nine years, we have doubled our capacity and that gives our clients the comfort that as they invest, their returns grow. With a lot of improvement, we are in the process of increasing our capacity by an additional 12MW and the commencement of this expansion will be announced soon. As we go into the process of deploying infrastructure bringing. in additional 12 mega worth to the country and that will be announced soon, as we go to the process of deploying that infrastructure.”
He stressed that “More importantly, to highlight part of our successes in migrating services, we have continuously and consistently ensured that our clients’ plants are migrated successfully without any single issue or infrastructure destruction from the colocation to our data center. Similarly, we have always been the first in almost everything we do within the space where we work. For example, we were the first to build a Tier III23 design and, constructed facility, and certified by the Uptimeown Institute – a global digital infrastructure authority; and we are also the first data center to be awarded the IFC Edge certification in Africa, Middle East and Europe for our new build expansion project. we set the pace within the sub-Sahara and Africa perspective.”
MONAPLEX: Leading Indigenous Manufacturer, Advancing Innovations, Creating Value for Businesses Across Africa
Monaplex Industries (Nigeria) Limited is a trusted name in the plastic industry, located in the business hub of Ikorodu, Ojota Lagos. It is one of the leading and only indigenous manufacturers producing over 500 different kinds of automotive spare parts in Nigeria and has been in the manufacturing of plastic spares for over 40 years.
Today, the company’s products, which are rated among the best in the plastic products market, are sold in Nigeria alone but in countries all over Africa. This implies that Monaplex has received wide acceptance and patronage across the African continent despite all challenges faced by the industry.
With all its products endorsed by the Nigerian Institute of Standard (NIS), the company has received the NIS Bronze medal for quality and is the first plastic factory to be registered with the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) in the spare parts category. To date, Monaplex remains one of the only surviving plants which doles out quality spares and other plastic wares at affordable prices.
According to Karim Sulaiman, Director, Monaplex Industries Limited, “In line with our commitment to placing sustainability at the core of our business which enables us to meet the changing needs of our customers and communities, we support our customers’ efforts to develop products to meet the challenges of today while advancing innovations that will improve tomorrow.”
In his overall assessment of the Manufacturing Sector vis-a-vis the Plastic Products business landscape in Nigeria, Sulaiman explained that “Nigeria’s manufacturing sector has always been and will always be one of the economy’s engines of growth, despite the current challenges of high energy costs, foreign exchange scarcity, and bad infrastructure; however recent interventions of low-interest rate loans such as the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) funds have assisted with capital investment and technological innovation to continue meeting the demand of the nation and reducing importation need. We hope these lower interest rates translate into working capital as well to truly kick-start a sector which has always had so much potential to thrive under the correct conditions.”
He spoke further that “With regards to the plastics sector; high competition coupled with high costs has pushed the industry into full drive with the bigger focus being put on innovation, technology, automation, and increased efficiency; plastics are a necessity in every developing economy and Nigeria is no different, again the sector needs support with lower energy prices, and lower duty on raw materials in order to achieve traction and create more direct and indirect jobs for the growing population.”
While giving insights into the Monaplex brand and its success story, the Director noted that “Monaplex Director Industries was established in 1978 by Mr Abdallah Sulaiman; the plant was the first to begin producing plastic automotive parts in Nigeria which reduced usage of steel parts and introduced a safer, more reliable and affordable option for automotive assembly and spare parts.
With its trademarked brand Dorian filters, Monaplex ran OEM services for some of the biggest traders and Automotive assembly plants such as Peugeot. Our Spare parts sector continues to shine in the market with new designs being introduced every year to help support the economy and save the country huge amounts of foreign exchange. We are confident and proud to say every motorcycle in Nigeria must have at least one of our parts on it.”
In his words, “The unique attribute of the Monaplex brand is to provide the best possible quality at the cheapest possible price, with innovation and high standards being our key focus. Our use of reprocessed material has also made our brand environmentally friendly, creating a greener option for the environment. We believe our features are well suited to the Nigerian market, with other companies constantly trying to replicate our strategies across the sector; however, this does not stop us from continuing research, development, and innovation to continue serving our customers and the end users.”
Concerning other innovative approaches that the handlers of the Monaplex brand have brought to impact the industry in general, Sulaiman stressed that “Our handlers over the years have shown great commitment and support by backing our brand against imported equivalents and showing that local- produced items can compete with imported products with the same quality and better price. Our distribution network spreads across all the states with warehouses situated in key cities in the country.”
THE SOLAR HOUSE: Powering Africa With Renewable Energy, 1KW Per Time!
Driven by the vision to renewably power Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa one kilowatt per time, Brone Renewables Solar House Limited (The Solar House) is a subsidiary of Brone Energy Group.
As a Renewable energy service provider, the company is strategically positioned to meet the energy needs of private individuals, corporate organizations and industries. We work with a wide range of architects, developers, estate managers, specifiers, local authorities, schools and universities, health and social care trusts, and housing associations to design and develop renewable solutions in commercial and industrial buildings, both new and old (retrofit).
Brone Renewables Solar House Limited provides consultation & execution services from the design phase right through to installation and post-project performance monitoring. Our team of seasoned professionals help to plan, design, construct and maintain your power project(s).
As a fully owned subsidiary of Brone Energy Group, a group of companies that have operated for more than two decades in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, our company enjoys the Brone Energy Group’s brand loyalty, technical expertise, experiences in turnkey projects and financial support. We are therefore positioned to leverage our parent company’s successes, the long years of experience of our team members and staff, and our strategic business relationships with foreign companies to renewably meet the energy needs of our clientele.
As a way of reliably meeting energy needs, The Solar House currently produces its own brand of products in conjunction with foreign-based manufacturing plants. We have our inverters, solar charge controllers, solar panels and batteries under our brand BERSH.
The BERSH inverters are readily available in various sizes ranging from 1 kw, 2 kw, 3 kw, 4kw, 5kw, 7.5kw, 10, 12 kw, and soon expanding to 20kw, 30kw, 100kw, 200kw and 650kw.
Brone Renewables Solar House management comprises experienced and seasoned personnel with long-standing first-hand information in the industry. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bunmi Akomolede, is an astute professional Energy industrialist. He is a Technologist, trained Applied Geophysicist as well as an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Expert who understands the energy and power dynamics in the Nigerian context. He is a member of the Energy Institute and a member of the Standards Organization of Nigeria Technical Committee on Solar & Renewables PVES Standards.
The Chief Operating Officer (COO), TiOluwalade Akomolede is the brain behind the management of projects. A certified Strategist & Trained Lawyer, she ensures that everyone is on the same page and that solar energy installation happens on time and within the budget. She supervises the team heads and ensures all projects are done right.
Behind the Directors are Managers, Team Leads and committed team members who all come together to make a very formidable, strong and super-efficient workforce poised and ready to serve. Some of the company’s satisfied customers include office and retail building owners, residential developers, organisations, and homeowners. The goal is to keep people and the environment healthy and happy knowing that they have made cost-effective & responsible choices in their fuel and energy consumption.
So far, we have executed several renewable energy projects ranging from Inverter systems to Solar Systems to DC Appliances to Mini Solar Generators to Solar Street Lights and CCTV cameras. In all of our projects to date, we have delivered 100% and achieved 100% completion status without any record of unfinished or abandoned projects. This achievement we believe has been made possible due to our consistency, prudent project management strategy, a full understanding of project requirements, experienced personnel and management coupled with a robust financial standing.
Brone Renewables Solar House carries out research and development on next-generation technologies and designs tailored to customers’ needs. We seek to cultivate and expand core technologies with an eye to the future while improving our ability to provide Solar Energy solutions for today.
CONTINENTAL RE: Premier Pan-Africa Reinsurer, Driving Growth Through Innovation
We are the private sector champion of the pan-African reinsurance industry. With a history spanning more than 30 years, we have developed an extensive network across Africa in order to serve our clients, premised on our “pan-African commitment made local.” With an emphasis on trusted relationships, we build on our diversified and profitable portfolio to offer uncompromising service and technical capability. Everything we do is underpinned by the translation of our pan-African track record Continental Re (“CRe”) has become a leading privately owned reinsurance company in Africa. From its humble beginnings in 1987, the company has progressively grown into a force to reckon with given its reputation for consistent delivery of reliable reinsurance services to clients and strong financial performance. With operations in six (6) countries and plans to expand to new markets between 2022 and 2024, the prospects appear positive for the company.
We are the private sector champion of the pan-African reinsurance industry. With a history spanning more than 30 years, we have developed an extensive network across Africa in order to serve our clients, premised on our “pan-African commitment made local.” With an emphasis on trusted relationships, we build on our diversified and profitable portfolio to offer uncompromising service and technical capability. Everything we do is underpinned by the translation of our pan-African track record and commitment into local value.
In its quest to achieve its vision to be the Premier Pan-Africa Reinsurer, Continental Re has consistently embraced innovation as a critical ingredient in achieving operational excellence across all levels of its operations. This, among other factors, has been instrumental in the sustained growth of the organisation in Nigeria and on the African Continent. In many ways than one, the company has continued to evolve over 35 years in terms of service delivery, product classes, operating model, and utilization of technology, among other key areas some of which are discussed below.
One of the key areas of innovation in CRe is the role it plays in supporting infrastructure development and construction. Due to the vast infrastructural gap in Africa and the growing focus of governments to close this gap, CRe, has positioned itself as a leading provider of engineering and property underwriting. To deliver optimally, in this line of business, the company hires Engineers, across key regions, who are responsible for conducting comprehensive risk surveys to improve the quality of underwriting.
In addition, CRe is also one of the leading proponents of Agric Reinsurance in Africa (apart from global reinsurers). Due to the severity of the food insecurity as well as the market potential of agriculture in Nigeria and Africa, Continental Re has invested in Agric Reinsurance as part of its long-term strategic priorities. Key investments in the line of business include recruitment of specialist Agric underwriters, provision of inspection and field underwriting, and free training for insurance companies, small-scale farmers, and agribusiness owners. Over the years, approximately 4 million farmers have benefitted directly and indirectly from CRe’s claims settlement –in Nigeria and across Africa.
Another area of innovation is in the strategic education of various stakeholders about insurance. Given the limited knowledge about insurance in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, Continental maintains a strong commitment to enhancing the level of insurance knowledge. The rationale for this is simple: “if the prospective customers do not understand insurance services, they will not patronize”.
Consequently, the company has adopted a two-pronged approach toward insurance enlightenment train the insurance professionals and providing support for insurance journalists thereby raising the quality and frequency of reporting on the sector’s activities. As a result, CRe has conducted over 54 free technical insurance training sessions for 4,323 insurance professionals in Nigeria and across West Africa over 5 years. Concerning its support for insurance journalism, CRe launched an Insurance Journalism award which recognizes the most outstanding insurance journalists every year.
As recognition of CRe’s positive strides, it emerged as one of the winners of the 2022 SABRE Africa awards which recognize “superior achievement in Branding, Reputation, and Engagement”. Essentially, this is a reinsurer that is on course to become one of the new market leaders in the African reinsurance industry.
“At Adeptus, we see the magical in the ordinary and the ordinary in the magical”` – Ariyo
Adeptus Advertising is a Nigerian marketing communications agency led by a group of creative mystics whose strategic imaginations stretch as far as the eye can see in order to deliver award-winning solutions. Over the years, the company has made significant contributions to brand growth by taking a results-oriented approach that sees the magical in the ordinary and the ordinary in the magical. The company’s strategic and innovative nature has given birth to new concepts, endearing Adeptus Advertising to brands in major sectors of the Nigerian economy. In an interview with the company’s Chief Creative Officer, Bamidele Ariyo, he discusses the innovativeness behind the company’s rise in the Nigerian advertising industry.
What informed the establishment of Adeptus Advertising Limited?
In 2015 when the business started, it was supposed to be a hunt for a different way of expressing how creativity should be done. At the time, I had experience working with several top agencies and there was a new spice my heart ached for.
As a creative, I have always had the ability to do several things and it felt like, if I continued the way I did, the ability to express these different skills might die gradually, so, the best bet was to open a shop where myself and people like me would freely express the one thousand things they can do without any particular respect for job titles. That was how we had the name Adeptus which is from the original Latin word “Adept” meaning skilful.
Coincidentally, that same year was when Nigeria got hit by recession and it seemed like starting an agency was the craziest thing to do, but I on the other hand had a chance I wasn’t willing to let go. It was quite uncertain, but we sailed, took the bull by the horn, and years down the line, that single decision has kept Adeptus Advertising in business.
As a key player in the nation’s economy, what is your overall assessment of the Advertising industry in Nigeria?
The Advertising Industry is one that has gone through several rounds of growth, at least in its approach to doing business since the year I started. These days, technology has been an enabler for forward-thinking agencies and this has really aided the possibilities of tracking the success of every campaign.
It has also become easy for agencies to wear multiple caps, anything that gets the job done really. However, there are still a lot of knots to be tied; from the regulatory bodies to the modes of Client Agency engagement and even the agency structure itself.
These days, it is increasingly becoming difficult for young agencies to thrive, because the bigger ones keep replicating their weight into sister companies to take more accounts in the same category. The ecosystem is quite brutal.
You also have the challenge of clients rarely keeping to their own side of deals or sometimes throwing briefs they sure know their financial capacity can’t withstand. While the Advertising Industry Standard of Practice (AISOP) is addressing this in terms of pitch fee, some stress can altogether be avoided. There’s no pitch fee that will match the amount of time and resources put into getting the team to create great work. The industry here is still a growing one, but with the several modifications in the pipe, I am optimistic of a long-lasting difference.
What is the structure of Adeptus Advertising’s partnership with brands, and how much influence does that have on your business?
As a company, we are highly motivated by passion, and for each business on which we work, there is also a desire to leave an indelible imprint in the company’s history. That is why every brief begins with a sit-down session to understand the motivation behind the business and its vision. We’d like to catch a glimpse of that as we develop vehicles to propel it as far as it can go. Gennex Technologies extended that arm to us, and we took the company in a new profitable direction.
We regard ourselves as the agency that sees the magical in the ordinary and the ordinary in the magical. That simply means no business is too small to break through the clutter and none is too big to retain its headship. Likewise, there’s nothing a groundbreaking campaign can’t be made of; every insight matters. That’s why we prefer a sit-down talk first before doing the work.
What gets us ahead is impact, so every brand is just another opportunity for us to stick to that truth about us; if it won’t move a needle, it won’t get to the client’s table. This has helped the businesses we manage to build trust and confidence in us. They understand how we engage their business, in fact, with the speed we revert on client requests, you’ll think we are working on your business alone; it’s always far from it. It’s just the culture; No sleeping dogs lying anywhere.
Covid-19 presented a global situation that emphasized the importance of digital advertising. How have you been able to use the pandemic’s positive side to improve not only your brand, but also your clients’ marketing efforts?
It was such a hard reality to adapt to but eventually, the team adopted new ways of engaging all the briefs we had at the time with increased attention to detail to avoid numerous back and forth. We also made sure servicing our clients went beyond expectations; it was a time businesses were cutting costs, so we had to prove our worth at every engagement. And made sure our work turnover rate was at the speed of light. We also stuck to the truth of the season. The truth will always be the finest strategy, so we took the truth and spun it with sprinkles of interesting narratives.
Give us insight into some of the Branding & Campaigns the agency has executed
Okay, we have a couple.
My career started in Branding with a significant exposure to Strategy, which luckily gave me a solid footing before I moved across agencies and got immersed in core advertising. From our early days to now, we have done a lot of branding for Givanas Industries and Uberness some of which include; Popit Candy, April Multipurpose Soap, DishMade, Haven White, HotGinger Tea, Foremost Milk, Coaster Tea, and others. Then our very first Campaign “Tears” was for Leadway Assurance. The Campaign raked in lots of good commentary at the time. We also did an AgricTech anti-scam campaign warning investors to be careful of people using Leadway’s identity to promise unrealistic offers. As expected the campaign did well and won some awards. During its 50th anniversary too, we executed the branding brief, logo creation to application, and signages to the creative communication, prints, and other bits the project required. In the years of our relationship with the brand, we’ve gone ahead to create award-winning works and several other projects that the client is still proud of. There’s also the “Light Up” campaign for Gennex Technologies, the campaign was so successful that Gennex had to slightly pipe down on campaigning as they now have distributors across the country doing the hard part of their business.
During the EndSars, we saw how Fake News played a huge role in stalling what would have been another record-breaking milestone in Nigeria’s history. So, in a collaborative effort with Guardian Newspaper, we pushed a campaign to advocate against Fake News and why everyone needs to double-check every piece of information before sharing, liking, or commenting. It’s been months since the work was published and the social commentary it attracted hasn’t stopped. It was a lot when it was newly introduced, but that piece of work is still flying around continents. We’ve done a lot more but these few will suffice for now.
How would you describe the challenges faced in the industry and how have you been able to surmount those challenges as a brand?
Asides from what I have initially highlighted, the agency has been built on a foundation that gets work done regardless of challenges, sometimes, these challenges spur us to do great work. We love success stories and really nobody cares what stopped you from doing the job; the question will always be, “How did you navigate that tough terrain”. That’s how I see it. There’s also this potential challenge of managing Talents. Creatives are very dynamic and usually, the same rule might not apply to 2 different people. So, aside from having a company culture, I observe and have interactions with talents on a personal basis to understand their drive, motivation, and challenges. If they will be here, they need to be cared for. There’s also a training system in place that ensures that first-timer spark doesn’t fizzle out. We do this regardless of the company’s size. It’s even to our advantage if a talent leaves with more confidence in their skill.
What are some notable achievements the business has recorded since its inception?
We’ve won lots of awards in the few years that we’ve been in existence. Last year we came fifth in the Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival (LAIF) with 10 Medals and a couple of international awards as well.
It’s also satisfying when you see your products and some of the brandings you’ve done in the market or on TV. Currently, we have a campaign running for Leadway Travel Insurance. It’s a campaign I like, the song and the storyline, we did our best with it. Last year was a brilliant one for us. Some of the ads that won awards went very viral, and we had people from different parts of the world talking about them. Also, some very notable senior colleagues also came into my DM with thumbs up, it meant a lot. Anyway, there is still so much magic to be created and the team is eager to do more.
How FMN is Localizing Sustainability Across Various Touchpoints.
The need for sustainability strategies that can facilitate a paradigm shift away from unsustainable and dominant globalization to pragmatic ways of developing local content and capacities for security and self-sufficiency within nations gave rise to the quest for content localization in Nigeria.
Localization, in this context, is believed to occur where a country, region, community, or town owns and sources their essential life requirements such as water, food, energy, and housing materials locally; minimizes import dependence; prioritizes environmental protection and community participation in social investment and training programs as well as socio-economic growth.
Although, the term ‘sustainability’ has been given various meanings and interpretations over the years, building an eco-system that does not compromise the standard of living for people today or in the future is paramount to human and environmental longevity. There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift, as opposed to the continuation of business as usual despite long‐standing, dire scientific warnings. The required transformative measures are to build local capacities for the sole purpose of ensuring the sustainability of local communities.
Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN), Nigeria’s leading process of quality products and a notable player within the FMCG industry is committed to sustainable development and has taken deliberate measures to enshrine local content utilization across its business operations. FMN is the industry leader with respect to localizing sustainability in Nigeria.
The FMN sustainability approach focuses on local content development through the EESG (Environmental, Economic, Social, Governance) execution framework as an enabler and sustainability leader, FMN is greatly committed to increasing local content both in inputs and products. The need to create value further back in the supply chain and reduce dependence on imported raw materials has been identified as a strategic imperative for the Group in the years ahead.
When it comes to supply chain management, FMN continues to explore options and initiatives to further embed ‘responsible supply chain practices within the business operations to ensure that all purchases comply with required policies, certifications, and practices. Some of these policies and certifications are the restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) Certification, ISO 9001 Quality Management System (QMS); utilization of energy efficient machinery across its Manufacturing facilities, some powered in part by alternative energy sources (i.e. biomass); Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) compliance, and formal environmental-packaging policy.
Being a socially responsible company, FMN drives social value creation for its people and local communities, the focus is to profitably do business while creating long-term social impact for communities. The Group continues to strengthen the capabilities of its stakeholders, from the network of smallholder farmers, and young entrepreneurs, to its employees, students, communities, and the Nation at large. FMN remains vested in the provision of enabling structures in the areas of human capital development, education, research, provision of quality inputs, specialized training, agronomy support, aggregation, and related extension services.
From the upstream supply chain outlook, FMN’s continued investment in the Food and Agro-Allied sector is predicated on the need to achieve economies of scale in food production via crop-specific value chains, increasing the productivity of and ultimately modernizing the country’s agricultural sector. In the downstream sector, The Group continues to innovate the supply chain system for process efficiency so that consumers can promptly access the Brand’s products and services from their places of comfort.
Furthermore, the Group established a Backward Integration Program (BIP) to create value in the supply chain and reduce dependence on imported raw materials, especially sugar and wheat. A clear demonstration of its commitment to the development of the sugar value chain in Nigeria is through Sunti Golden Sugar Estates in Niger State, which is widely regarded as the country’s premier greenfield investment in the sugar industry since its inception in 2012. With a total landmass of over 21,000 hectares, including a world-class sugar refinery, the company continued to expand operations at Sunti Golden Sugar Estate including an additional $300 million in Nasarawa state and a commitment to investing another N70 billion over the next three years to develop the upland area of the Sunti Sugar Estate.
More so, in pursuit of increased local production of raw materials, the Group has established seed multiplication sites in Nassarawa and Kaduna for trials and testing for locally engineered seeds. At Kaboji Farms, FMN partners with smallholder farmers, creating an enabling environment for farming by providing land, security, and infrastructure while they produce the crops essential to operations. This model has also been implemented through FMN’s Project Yalwa – designed to strengthen farmers’ capacity to boost maize and soya beans production across the country. Additionally, FMN is building high-yield, high-resistant cassava seedlings at SAH Lab, a partnership with the cassava supply chain stakeholders in Ososa, the Group also acquired more land in Edo state for processing premium oil palm in partnership with Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc at AgriPalm.
Protecting the environment while conducting business remains a central component of the Group’s sustainability pursuits. Flour Mills conducts its business operations in a way that maximizes the natural ecosystems while preserving it for the benefit of the present and future generations. For environmental impact management, the Group focuses on, waste prevention and management, supply chain impact management, and energy efficiency. These processes are in place to track the amount of waste produced (including packaging materials) and these initiatives are tailored to Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle them. There are also various options utilized for reducing virgin material use and hazardous materials consumption while educating consumers on more sustainable ways of disposing of packaging materials.
Veritas Registrars Limited; Leveraging On Modern Technology, Supported By Expertise And Innovation
Under the leadership of Ugochukwu Okonkwo, Veritas Registrars Limited, Veritas Registrars Limited prides itself as a pacesetter in redefining the Registrar business, earning the respect of stakeholders through the provision of accurate and on-time services using modern technology, supported by expertise, innovation, and excellent customer service. Technology is viewed at Veritas Registrars Limited as the fulcrum for superior performance and a tool for harnessing new opportunities
The CEO stated that “The prevailing mode of meetings of shareholders of companies via proxies occasioned by the COVID-19 restrictions, made us rely on our suite of electronic resources to ensure that meetings like AGMs, EGMS and others are held seamlessly, especially where resolutions are to be passed by members in attendance at these meetings. We have been able to achieve this using our electronic voting system for voting at clients’ meetings, with a real-time display of voting results.
Okonkwo, who holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Nigeria, and a Master of Laws degree from the University of Lagos, is a seasoned lawyer and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria with over 19 years of experience. He is also an active member of various professional bodies; some of which include the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators, Association of Professional Negotiators & Mediators, and the Institute of Capital Market Registrars.
According to him, Veritas leverages on technology, expertise, manpower and working tools that have been made available and mastered for ease of working remotely to ensure minimal service disruption to our esteemed customers.
“This is expedient, considering the recently experienced restriction in physical movement to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus and improve the work-life balance of our people. We have established and supported a subscription-based portal which allows shareholders online real-time access to view and monitors their shareholding accounts in the companies we manage. And for as many shareholders that would rather come in person, an effective automated queue management system that assigns the relevant officer to a shareholder based on the enquiries logged is available for ease of dealings. This also assists in identifying the major issues being faced by shareholders, thereby directing our resources, beyond resolving the issues, into preventing a build-up of the issues in the future.”
Veritas Registrars boasts of a professionally run customer care centre with world-class technological tools, which handles all e-mail enquiries, phone calls and text messages and is available all through working days/hours to provide an excellent experience to their shareholders from wherever they might be.
“We have invested in innovative technology to handle Public Offers as well as Mandatory Takeover Offer (MTO) exercise electronically without any issue, either during or after the exercise.”
Okonkwo is responsible for the implementation of policies and guidelines as set by the Board of Directors. Prior to his appointment as Chief Executive Officer of Veritas Registrars Limited, he was the Corporate Counsel at Zenith Bank Group where he provided legal representation and counsel to the group on Banking Laws, Litigation, and General Corporate Legal Practice.