EYE ON THE PRIZE

Nigeria 2020 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

By diversifying into new markets and services, Unireach has weathered tough times and emerged successful.

Marc Abi Chahine
BIOGRAPHY

A lawyer by profession, holding a DPS in criminal defense law, Marc Abi Chahine practiced law in Lebanon for seven years before moving to Nigeria in 2004 to explore business opportunities. In mid-2007, along with his brother, he entered into a JV with a renowned logistics company in Nigeria that mainly focused on projects-based business. In 2009, joined by their third brother, the two brothers established Unireach, a supply chain and logistics company, and soon after expanded into other successful businesses.

What are some of the services Unireach provides?
Indeed, we have been doing some procurement under our supply chain management services upon request but decided a few years ago to assign a dedicated team to assist our clients in their procurement needs to ensure they get the right product with the exact required specs at the best possible cost. As for the mining sector and in the same vein, we recently established a new corporation to locally purchase different types of minerals of Nigerian origin from identified and certified mining companies in order to export and supply our overseas clienteles. After many months of official accreditation and licensing period as well as due diligence process by our clients, we are proud that presently we are busy preparing our first major purchase order for a blue-chip German company.

What challenges do you face in the logistics business in Nigeria in general and while operating inside and around Lagos ports?
We have been struggling for a few years now with bad roads surrounding Lagos ports in particular and from lack of suitable infrastructure for trucks and tanks to operate within that busy area of Lagos. We have tried to cope along with importers and our partners in the same line of business, but it has not been easy since we cannot pre-plan timelines for deliveries or budget a landed cost of a project. Once the customs clearing process is correctly performed, consignments can be ready to get loaded out of ports in an average timeframe of a week; however, excessive delays experienced in getting trucks inside terminals to load containers and return empty ones back to ports remain our toughest challenge and frustration, budget wise.

How have you managed to thrive amidst such challenging circumstances?
Key players survived simply because they played their cards right. We definitely experienced our share of loss from the economic crises but were able to somehow weather it due to our team. Our decision to diversify and venture into new businesses and territories gave us an edge and helped us reach our present position.

What is your mid- to long-term strategy for success?
Like all other business owners and entrepreneurs, we invest, create job opportunities, engage individuals, and work hard to achieve set goals and reach a steady business growth. In return, our constant and major concerns are to have a steady and strong economy, a healthy social and work environment, security, and reliable government multi services. We have been lacking in some areas but try to make do the best we can. Our mid- to long-term business strategies and priorities are to ensure we succeed in our different ventures, with our usual focus on the supply chain management being our “niche" service and on the newly established and promising business of minerals trade.