NIGERIA - Economy
Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions (CBS)
Adebola Akindele has a degree in Animal Science from the University of Ile-Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, and a Master’s in Banking and Finance from the University of Lagos. He is presently the Group Managing Director of Courteville Business Solutions, a company he has been with for over 20 years. He has previously worked for the Central Bank of Nigeria and several private sector financial organizations.
Courteville Business Solutions (CBS) offers services aimed at improving process efficiencies for the private and public sectors. This provides us with opportunities to look at gaps and overlaps in how things are done. We can then decide whether to apply a system to walk a firm through the development of a web or application processing system. We choose to go with mobile web or application services to help companies deliver their products and services to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. AutoReg is our flagship tool, while the other new one is Egole Shopping, an online shopping site that I am proud to say is the only profitable e-commerce site in the whole of West Africa. There are over 250 merchants on Egole Shopping that have been provided with virtual office suites and shops through which they can sell their goods. That is what we do. We help the buyers get onto the site, and we help companies to sell their products. However, you cannot always successfully copy and paste a model that apparently works well in the West into the Nigerian Market. You have to take culture into consideration, and that is what we have done with Egole. That is one very clear reason as to why Egole Shopping has been successful. Egole Shopping is a platform that allows over 10,000 users, on a daily basis, to visit the site and browse for goods. It also allows the users of the site, governments, merchants, and independent outlets to get together. All this combined, the model works to put Egole Shopping at the center of Courteville’s intention to diversify its business portfolio. AutoReg works with motor vehicle documentation, which is up to government to approve or not. As a strategy, we decided not to rely entirely on that because things may change. We decided that we wanted to do something that applies directly to the private sector, such that, if someone decides to sell something, they can do so using their laptop. That is Egole Shopping’s mission.
We have a relationship with the Nigerian Insurance Association, whereby we designed, developed, and manage the entire database management system for insurance policy issuance on motor vehicles across the whole of Nigeria on behalf of the Association. And now, we are in the very process of adding marine insurance policy documentation to that. Thanks to practices like this, every single motor vehicle is now authentically insured in Nigeria. I desire a model like this not only for Courteville, but also for the insurance industry as a whole. It would help the way the general tariff is structured in Nigeria. It would also help insurance companies in confirming when the customer signs a policy with them. It allows the regulators of the industry to get a clearer sense of the kind of business that is happening in the industry, and this has been a major issue in the past. We also work with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) by providing a system that has allowed it to reduce the processing period for the approval of certification processes of all manufactured products or imported/exported goods from what used to be, say nine months to a year, down to a week. That is what we do; we provide efficiency and improvement to your system. We also have solutions in the area of education named PSEAMS, a system that allow parents to monitor their children remotely from wherever they are through active live monitoring, as well as ones that allow students to attend school remotely. Another solution we have is PRM, which helps in the documentation of properties and the collection of taxes for waste management.
Africa has a population of about a billion people, while Nigeria has a population of some 170 million. That is 17% of the population of the continent. And we realized that there is a huge gap between the supply of education and demand. The demand is huge and the number of institutions is not sufficient to accommodate the demand. We also realized that the direction of the curriculum is much more toward the academic sciences. The next frontier is to educate the youth and this caused the introduction of RELAY, an online educational platform and a vocational-inclined online education program created in collaboration with Ravensbourne, a UK university that has famous alumni like designer Stella McCartney, David Bowie, and many more. We are starting in five main areas: fashion pattern cutting, fashion promotion, website design and content management, interior design, and film-editing and post-production. We are able to achieve the same kind of quality in online education, but very cheaply at around £200 for one module. That is the first of its kind anywhere in this part of the world. Everything about our model is locally designed and locally implemented in Nigeria; we design solutions to match and to identify with what is necessary to overcome challenges in Nigeria. For you to be successful, particularly in Nigeria, you have to be 10 times better than what is used in Europe, the US, and Asia. We are not India yet, but we can be the India of Africa to start with. We believe that in the next five years and, through our medium-term strategy plan, supplying them with services, our next focus cuts across West Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. As an ISO-certified company, we have been able to deliver services matching international standards. We have about 200 staff within the company, but we indirectly employ about 10,000 people across Nigeria.
There is always a curve. The curve is regular for every single innovation. In order to be innovative, when you introduce something, you have stick with it. Of course, this will not guarantee that Nigerians will recognize and want what is good for them. If the technology is not coming from India, the US, or the UK, it is difficult for them to trust it. All the government has to do is to trust us.
© The Business Year – August 2014
NIGERIA - Energy & Mining
Group Managing Director, Eraskorp Nigeria Limited
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