‘COVID-19 is an opportunity for business owners to restrategise’
Mrs Gloria Ezinwa Money is the Chief Executive Officer of VGL Global Resources Limited. A graduate of Biochemistry from the Delta State University, with a Masters Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Lagos, she exudes a kind of confidence often seen in female executives. But her wide smile will later reveal that behind that veneer, there is a heart. In this interview with MARIA DIAMOND, the Delta State native shares her experiences as an entrepreneur, and how she’s dealing with challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biochemistry first degree and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Masters Degree level, but here you are today a business executive. How did you arrive at this point in life?
In life, there are turning points. It is your ability to recognise your turning point before it goes to your rearview mirror that matters. I guess, after acquiring some of these degrees I could get, I got to my turning point. This is it and I am looking forward to acquiring my PhD in the near future. The beauty of it all is that I did not allow it (turning point) to be in my rearview mirror.
What made you delve into pet foods, to the extent of becoming the Franchise owner of Josera & Bavaro pet foods from Germany?
As a lover of pets, and having so many dogs in my home, my desire to feed my dogs high quality and affordable pet food was my driving force. I have been selling pet food In Nigeria for the past six years and counting. There’s a saying in my husband’s place, he’s Urhobo, that says, ‘There are many gates leading to the market.’ I hope you and the reader will understand the proverb. In life, at a point, you diversify; you expand your horizon. That’s what we have done. And we are trying to meet the needs of other people too.
You have a franchise for pet foot from Germany, how many people actually own pets in Nigeria? Is the investment worth it?
Wow, you obviously do not own a pet at home! You will be amazed if you were told how many Nigerians own pets and how they frequently patronise not only Vet doctors but pet foods shops. We are among the leading pet foods distributors in Nigeria, and I say this with all sense of modesty.
What are the challenges you currently face in the course of doing business, especially this period of COVID-19 pandemic?
Well, the challenges we are facing in the course of doing business this period is the same as every other person doing business is facing. The world economy is practically grounded due to the outbreak of Coronavirus early this year. Everybody, including multinationals, is struggling to keep his/her head above waters; we are doing the same.
However, it is during tough times like this that the tough ones survive. And by that, I mean, you need to come out with a new plan, a new strategy, in the middle of the game. Just like a football coach that his team is one the verge of losing a match, but he (she in this case), will have to change the strategy at half time, to defeat the opponent. That’s what we have been able to do since the global economy took a downturn due to the pandemic.
Can you let us into the secret of how you have been able to cope and weather the storm?
It is a trade secret, but then, I had let it out above. You have to restrategise at every point in your business, whether there is Coronavirus or not. You cannot stick to one business model for too long; you must, and with emphasis on the MUST, keep evolving. Of course, you must have a good team and a supportive husband, if you are a woman and a supportive wife, if you a male business owner. I cannot claim to know everything, I was not born a business owner; I dedicated a lot of time and energy. With the abundant grace of God, we have been able to come this far and will go farther.
Talking about a supportive husband, how supportive is your husband?
If you must know, my husband guides me; he is very, very supportive. Sometimes, I run some very knotty issues by him at home, and he advises me on what to do and his advice had proven to be key to the growth of my companies. Mind you, he is a very busy man, with a lot of responsibilities too, but he finds time out to advise me, anytime I sought he advise. Now you know.
From distributing City Energy Drink, we hear that VGL Global Resources, which you own, is planning to establish its own production facility in Nigeria, next year, how far have you gone with the project?
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered some of the plans. With the gradual relaxation of business activities by the authorities, the timeline for the kick-off of the plant is now next year.
How is the brand competing in the energy drinks market?
We have been on this project for over two years and we have been able to have NAFDAC Certification for both flavours. I am not trying to market it to you here, but I must tell you that the drink is a new concept because this is the first time we are having energy drink for both male and female specifically; this concept is new and unique. The tests run we did receive very positive responses from the consumers across 20 states in the country. Our partners were supposed to be around for the launching of the drinks but were unable to do so due to the pandemic. Hence, we are looking at next year for the launching proper. Are we satisfied with our progress this far? NO! The pandemic has impacted on it and we have re-scheduled everything that has to do with it.
In your own opinion, do you think the Nigerian government has done enough to alleviate the challenges of business owners in this critical time of the pandemic?
I do not belong to the group of people that believes that government should and must do everything for everybody. No, I don’t. The Nigerian government may not have done enough this period, but it has done some things. Really, I do not want to go this route. The whole world is facing an economic crisis, this is the time for sacrifices by all, not the period to trade blames. Nigeria was on the verge of recovering from years of economic meltdown, and now, Coronavirus came calling; we shall overcome, that’s what I will say at this point.
You are no doubt a busy woman with so many irons in the fire. How do you cope with being a wife, mother and entrepreneur?
I live by the Bible principle that says ‘I Can Do All Things Through Christ That Strengthens Me.’ As an executive at the office and a wife and mother at home, I have been able to manage my two lives effectively. So, there’s no problem at all.