What led to the formation of Aniibol Group?
Aniibol Group started in 2012 after I finished my master's degree in the UK. I did a consultancy projects for Samsung during my MSc degree which I obtained a first-class/distinction. At that time, I was a successful model in the UK with over 64 international awards, but I wanted to switch careers after spending 10 years in the industry. I started a consultancy business in the UK, which is now Aniibol Group UK. From there, I came to Nigeria because I am a proud Nigerian and I knew there was a gap in the market from my visits on multiple occasions. There are some operational activities in the country that I do like, however, on the other hand, customer service was very poor. That is what prompted me to come to Nigeria and work on filling that gap. I thought that I could also help the Nigerian government by also reducing unemployment rate in the country. I came to Nigeria to start up a branch here, which has now been running for five years. Having been in the UK for several years, coming to Nigeria was a huge change and I found it hard to adapt but with God's grace, I am standing strong today. I did not receive any support from the government. This is in contrast with what happens in the UK, where the government, or perhaps even your university, supports you fully.
What does the company offer its clients today?
We started off by offering management consulting, for example, if a company is experiencing an internal and external issues, we analyze that and critically determined what the problem is. Then we come up with a suitable recommendation which will be beneficial to them on a long run. We help businesses grow and we always say the truth to our clients. We are bold enough to tell our client why their current strategy is not working and what they could do to re-strategize and improve their services or reach their goals. However, in 2014, we had to re-strategize. We realized there were other services we needed to offer to complement the economy and please our customers. From consulting, we started corporate and professional training. We also set up an agricultural firm. In addition, we offer IT solutions such as installation of hardware, mobile apps and websites development. We diversified into real estate as well.
How do you compete with other companies in Nigeria that offer similar consulting services, such as KPMG?
KMPG started the same way we did. It started small and worked hard to get to where it is today. I try as much as possible to focus on our lane and work as hard as possible to get to where some of the larger companies already are. Everybody can't afford the bills of larger companies, that is why we are in operation to give the same quality of service with a lower cost. Our customer services are one of our strength. Our slogan in our company is “Our Clients are our Priority," which means that without our clients, we would not function. We make sure that any client who comes in, with a doubt, leaves with a smiling face.
Have you set any targets for 2018?
We are looking at expanding our businesses in other developing countries. We have been deeply involved in doing research in 2017, looking toward diversification. By late 2018, we hope to dive into and begin operating in a new country, possibly the US.
How would you assess the business environment in Nigeria?
I would commend the government so far for a job well done. On the other hand, supporting small-scale businesses and entrepreneurs is key. When the company started when I was 25 years old, I went to university in the UK and shared my ideas with them, and most of my tutors were very much interested. They told me if I wanted to start a business, they would offer me a little space to start up. The university gives office space for entrepreneurs with good ideas without no cost at the initial start of the business, then, the business agrees to give 2-3% of the net profit of the business at the end of the year to the university, which is not going to hurt a new business. It tries as much as it can to support small-scale businesses. That is not the case in Nigeria, and it is a major issue. People keep complaining about unemployment, and as far as I am concerned, Nigerians have the entrepreneurial spirit. Helping such people could make a huge difference in the country. That is what the government should focus on. Secondly, customer service needs to be revamped. It is one of the big issues in Nigeria. The country as a whole needs to change its mentality from giving successful people more respect. Currently, there is a general lack of equality when it comes to customer service. It may be hard to change the mentality because it is so ingrained in the system, but hopefully in the near future we will begin to see change. Thirdly is power. I believe it is one of the major problem in the country. I strongly believe, if power is sorted out, lot of investor and businesses would do well and things will fall into place such as unemployment rate. Finally, in terms of agriculture, the government needs to look at investing in people in 2018. Gradually, I believe we can do it as a nation by the grace of God Almighty.
What is your outlook for 2018?
The government is getting there, but it needs to improve the economy so that businesses such as ours can grow faster. Most importantly, we should see more support of SMEs in 2018. It is so difficult for an SME to go into a bank today and get financing without collateral. There could be a university graduate with a good idea, but it may not mean anything if he or she does not have a start up fund to implement such ideas. There are so many cases online of young people who create new ideas but do not get the support to carry on. If they have that support, Nigeria could be a country that should be manufacturing cars, for example. Once we support more local and innovative ideas, the country could become more self-sufficient, and prices would drop. Once we have a lot of entrepreneurs and they are being supported, exporting goods outside of the country could start to really take off, like it has in China. The blunt truth is even the UK and the US buy from China. It would be amazing if someday everyone wants a Nigerian brand. As for Aniibol, I feel positive about 2018. I believe in my dreams, no matter what anyone tells me and the difficulties that may arise. For the last couple of years, things have been difficult, but now we are growing gradually and I can see great changes. The company is investing in several sectors, and I see 2018 in a positive light.