‘Government should provide conducive environment for young entrepreneurs’
Eniibukun Adebayo is the President of Enterprise Development Centre Alumni Association of Lagos Business School (LBS). He is an Economics graduate from Ondo State University. He also participated in Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) Project programme in Stanford University and Harvard Business School, United States of America. He is the Chief Executive Officer of CleanAce Ltd, a laundry and dry cleaning firm in Nigeria. He spoke with ENO BASSEY on business potentials in the country, what the government should do to encourage young entrepreneurs, among others.
What can government do to encourage small and medium scale (SMEs) businesses in Nigeria?
There are incredible and enormous potentials in Nigeria. There is need to give people the space to live out their dreams and potentials. Government has not been facilitating the business process. It should provide conducive environment for young entrepreneurs to succeed. Youths should be encouraged.
There are immense opportunities to be tapped. The country should properly engage and guide its citizens, especially the youths. It is unfortunate that as a nation, we only focus on short-term gains. Nigeria is greatly endowed with several potentials, which are not adequately harnessed for its growth and development.
There should be fairness and justice. Nigeria should encourage its citizens. The environment should be conducive for business. There should be reward as well as discipline in the country.
What is your opinion on government’s support for SMEs enterprises?
There is need for government to rethink the strategy for technical education. There must be a shift of focus from desiring white collar jobs to embracing proper education. It is important for education curriculum to be tailored towards meeting peoples’ passion. The government should encourage SMEs and invest more in technical education. Peoples’ minds should be disabused from negative perception about technical education. It is the way to go. We are better off with technically-oriented courses. Government should also establish more technical training institutions.
We also need data to sustain growth. When there is a data of information, SMEs can grow their businesses. Government should create structures to drive SMEs’ growth.
What role can government agencies play in growing Nigeria’s economy?
It is important for government agencies to do their job effectively to support local production of goods. For example, National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) should support SMEs and also protect Nigerians from consuming fake products. This should be the focus of government agencies. The onus is on government to put structures in place to develop local contents production.
Made-in-Nigeria products should be supported through government patronage. Government should sustain and keep business organisations alive. Nigeria needs to wake up and determine its objectives. There is a bigger framework that must govern all of us. In essence, there should be an end to impunity and lawlessness.
What advice do you have for businessmen and entrepreneurs?
Business owners should assess finance options for their growth. The banks play a critical role, as they have a structure in place. Business owners should embrace their strenuous conditions. Integrity pays a crucial role for business owners. I got money to start my business from a person who did not document the transaction. There are millions of people who want to assist. People should learn to do the right thing to attract help. It is important for upcoming entrepreneurs to start with personal savings and be disciplined.
Another important factor is mentoring. The Bank of Industry (BOI) and other financial institutions should develop a mentoring platform for SMEs. This enhances business growth and sustainability. Government should also encourage mentoring and franchise. Mentors make the business process easier for startups. There are values to be impacted by mentors. Businesses can also succeed through networking on the goodwill of mentors.
Your dry-cleaning business is 15 years old. What is the way forward in the industry?
I have in the last 15 years worked to create harmony among drycleaners. There is a vacuum in the industry. There is unhealthy competition, which is not necessary. People import all kinds of chemicals into the country. There is corruption, as people commit all kinds of unethical practices. There is need to have a formidable association in the industry.
For instance, drycleaners were not recognised as essential service providers during C0VID-19 lockdown. Some countries recognised and allowed them to open for customers. Drycleaners were the ones cleaning and washing clothing materials used during the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Importation of hazardous chemicals in the industry should stop.
What is CleanAce’s selling proposition?
Our Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is threefold – Quality, speed and price. We are poised to deliver professional services as the only ISO certified drycleaning firm in Africa. We are professionally structured to work within the framework of Global standards to deliver ultimate superior service delivery. Our ISO 9001-2015 focuses on quality management system. We strategise the dimension we want to participate as a notable player in the industry. We raise the bar of service delivery through our competent, pre-active and well-trained workforce. We have exposed our staff to global training in Italy, USA and Dubai.
CleanAce as a brand does not see itself competing locally. We benchmark our services in line with global standards. We import all our materials to ensure adequate care and delivery. One of our core values is integrity, which has rubbed off positively on our corporate image. Our staff have demonstrated high level honesty and integrity to the admiration of our esteemed clients.
The company has a strong focus on high quality and very affordable pricing. Its internal processes are flexible to quickly determine bottlenecks in operations. The brand’s goal is the delivery of exceptional customer experience. In actual fact, for the year 2020, it is either quality or nothing else.