What are Cedarcrest's core operations?
Three doctors, formerly operating an orthopedic clinic with 11 beds, over time developed a hospital in Abuja with over 100 beds, as well as a testing center. We also have a small hospital in Lagos, one in Jebba, and another in Kainji, whereby the network is gradually growing. We are also developing a new facility in Lagos that will have 50 beds. It used to be a family business, but we have since created a hierarchy and are growing into a corporate entity. Our focus is patient care, so our successes are the patients themselves and their improving health. Cedarcrest works extensively with polio sufferers and victims of automobile accidents; we have a free clinic every Sunday and provide assistance for those, where possible, to become more mobile.
Have you seen greater for your services over the past few years?
Two things are driving interest in the development of hospitals and healthcare: the commercial opportunity and people seeing how close we got to disaster recently and realizing we need to be prepared for any future scenarios. It takes two or three years to develop a hospital. Meanwhile, the pandemic has reduced disposable income, thus limiting people's healthcare expenditure. Nigeria is an interesting market because a model that works in one neighborhood does not work in another. There is insufficient healthcare for everyone, and many cannot afford it.
What makes Cedarcrest stand out?
We focus on delivering excellent service, with a continuous push for better standards and quality. If something goes wrong, it is analyzed and immediately addressed, as mediocrity cannot be accepted. That is how we maintain, develop, and grow. We focus on having the basic equipment, which unfortunately we mostly have to buy overseas. We have a business model that leverages diverse skills, and we look for quality over price.
What are your ambitions now that you are heading the company?
My vision is to create an environment where healthcare is affordable. We fund ourselves, so we need to be sustainable. We aim to cater to different cities in Nigeria, and at the same time create a culture of proactive health. We need to inculcate a culture of prevention among the public. We provide such diagnostic services and want people to come here for them. If you can detect conditions early, they can be treated easier.
How can the lack of a social welfare system providing access to healthcare be overcome in Nigeria?
You should target the people who can afford healthcare first. It then becomes popular and desirable, and you can then work on a mass scale, whereby it becomes more affordable. This is one way of changing the culture. We need to market our product, though our priority is improving our patient care and making sure there are no errors. We are also expanding to ensure we can cater to all our patients, so we have to increase our capacity.
How difficult is it to fund healthcare projects like a hospital in Nigeria, especially given the limited access to forex?
The Central Bank of Nigeria gives more favorable interest rates for such projects. However, it is still a challenge because we purchase many things in dollars, wherein prices experience extreme fluctuations. We have to continuously look at our costs against our revenue. Fortunately, some of the equipment is used over many disciplines, such as radiology, whereby the cost is absorbed by the volume of patients. However, you have to monitor your extra expenses.
Where do you see Cedarcrest hospitals within the next two years?
I would like Cedarcrest to be present in every major city of each state, whether through managed or owned units. In the hospitality business, they use a management model—not a franchise model—that can be applied to the healthcare sector as well, which entails managing other owned hospitals under our brand. There are 36 states, and we are present in three today. ✖