FUNDAMENTAL CONCERNS

Nigeria 2016 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Adejare Olaoluwa, Managing Director & CEO of the Bank of Industry, on a focus on SMEs, diversification, and audits by global ratings agencies.

Adejare Olaoluwa
BIOGRAPHY
Adejare Olaoluwa is a first-class civil engineering graduate from the University of Ife, and holds an executive MBA from the International Graduate School of Management (IESE), Spain. He had an illustrious working career that saw him through Arthur Andersen and in the banking industry, various senior roles in marketing and relationship management, treasury management, and currency trading and investment banking, before joining Universal Trust Bank PLC. He reached the position of Executive Director at the same bank between March 2008 and December 2012, as well as Chief Executive Officer of UBA International, a subsidiary of United Bank for Africa Plc, and UBA West & Central Africa. He is an associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

The Bank of Industry is a driver of the country's diversification away from hydrocarbons. What has the bank done recently to enhance its role in this respect?

Our mission in Nigeria is to transform the industrial sector, while our greater vision is to become a significant development bank in Africa. The only area where we have not performed well until last year was SME financing. We are concentrating our efforts more on enhancing SME financing. We have not abandoned our focus on larger enterprises, like Coleman Cables and Wires; rather we have expanded to also serve SMEs, which are the engine of developed and developing economies. We believe in the importance of helping small businesses access finance to help them grow into the major players of the future. Supporting SMEs is our passion at the Bank of Industry, while financing industrial development remains our core competency.

What are your strategies for supporting industrial development and diversification in Nigeria, and which industrial segments stand out in your overall strategy?

Our industrial sector activity is driven by what we call commodity-based industrialization. Our approach is to use what is available in order to reach our goals. Nigeria has a lot of agricultural resources, so one of our areas of focus is on agro-processing. We look for ways to develop value-added products from some of Nigeria's most malleable agricultural resources, such as cocoa, cassava, and tomatoes. There are also more than 40 different types of solid minerals available at commercial quantities in Nigeria. This is a potential boom market, given the continued decline in the price of oil.

Considering declining commodity prices, do you see a particular opportunity for diversification in Nigeria in which the government itself is taking a significant role?

This is not just an opportunity for diversification, but it is crucial. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes that we have in the past. The price of oil falling below $10 in 1986 prompted discussions of diversification, but that proved to be just talk. Every time the price of oil drops, the same topic comes up. Now, however, we are creating concrete plans and taking action. Leveraging agriculture is important for diversification, but we need to go beyond primary agriculture and move into secondary agro-processing as well. The same is true with our other core client sectors.

The Nigerian film industry is one of the biggest in the world. How does that play a part in Nigeria's overall economic growth and what potential do you see there?

The Nigerian film industry has grown tremendously, and it is now the third biggest producer of movies in the world. It now produces more movies than Hollywood and has achieved this growth largely without any government support. As a development bank, we want to also help develop the film industry through financial support. There is a new crop of individuals in this sector who are beginning to look at setting their standards of production based on international quality, taste, and markets. We set up the Nolly Fund, through which we target the top ten movie producers, the so-called New Nollywood. These are people who can produce international quality films, like Half of a Yellow Sun, 30 Days in Atlanta, or Octoberfest, and we want to back these companies fully.

What are your expectations for 2016?

The budget for 2016 should be approved early in the year so that priority projects can receive the proper attention they need. The NNPC reforms will continue, and hopefully these tides of change carry over into customs regulations as well as our tax administration system. These institutional reforms will hopefully happen next year. The Bank of Industry has also undergone certain reforms. One of the first things I did after being appointed to this position was to benchmark BOI against BNDES in Brazil, the Small Business Development Bank in India, the SME Bank of Malaysia, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa in order to figure out what these banks were doing more effectively than we were in Nigeria. We have upgraded our banking application to a more robust model, and our website is more informative. We received an AA+ national rating from Fitch in June, and we are now working with Moody's to get an international rating from them as well. Our vision is not just to be the most impactful financial institution in Africa, but to do so by adhering to global best practices of operating transparency.