Tag Archive | "Business Nigeria"

Echoes of the 32nd Kaduna Trade Fair


The 32nd Kaduna international trade fair has come and gone but its memory will continue to linger in the minds of manufacturers, exhibitors and traders who went there to market or launch their products.

While few business persons who participated at the fair which held from 25th February to 6th are counting gains, many of them are lamenting over the poor turnout at the fair.

“I’m not satisfied at all with the just concluded 32nd Kaduna International Trade Fair because they called it an international fair but I could not see anything international throughout the fair. This is the 5th country we are visiting to market our product called magic box. We were in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Egypt. Our aim of coming to this fair is to let the people know about our company and product. We prepared more than 30,000 pamphlets to create awareness,” a Chinese exhibitor who owns a company in Nigeria, called Firebird Land trading, Mr. David said

He said that they make a special design of the magic box that uses battery for Nigeria market knowing well that electricity is a challenge. According to him, only Nigeria has the new design which uses both electricity and battery.

He urged KADCCIMA, the organiser of the fair to do more in subsequent fairs in other to redeem the dying glory of the fair.

Like him, Second Secretary of Economic affairs in the Embassy of the Indonesia, Abuja, Mr. Kukuh Bedi Bjayadi thumped down the organiser of the fair.

“This kind of fair was the type organised during the 17th century in Indonesia. The organisation is very poor. In our country, we don’t organise fair like this again. There is need for the organisers to step up so as to make the fair an international one,’’ he told our correspondents at the country’s stand at the fair.

However, the workshop manager of Green Fingers Ltd, Mr. Daniel Owhutu blamed political rallies taking place in the state for the poor turnout.

“Kaduna exhibition is a well known trade fair for entrepreneurship, but this year there was poor turnout, nobody from the government was interested in what the exhibitors are doing. There is a bit of change this year; there were  a lot of exhibitors from all over Nigeria. Another factor responsible for the poor turnout was poor publicity,” he said.

He commended the management of KADCIMA for a job well done by getting the hawkers off the road; this he said made the fair to look more decent than it used to.

Numerous local traders also lamented. They complained soberly over the new arrangement introduced by the organisers in order to make the fair less chaotic.

One of the traders, Alhaji Aminu Haruna, a night gown seller says, “ We were pushed to an isolated area where there is no market, as you can see, I have been idle all along,” he lamented.

He stressed that the market in Kaduna town is far better than the fair because in the fair they pay to get space yet there is no market.

“This trade fair is not an extension of Gumi market because it is not every trader that comes to showcase their goods at the fair and there are some things you will find at the fair that you cannot get at the market,’’ a sales representative of SIMBA group, an Indian company, Mr. Christian Uduoba said.

He said that the fair was good and that they made reasonable sales, noting an improvement in the area of sales compared to the previous years.

Looking at the situation, the Head of Department of Economics of the Kaduna State University, Malam Zubairu Tajo Abdullahi identified the collapse of the manufacturing sector and the dwindling purchasing power of Nigerians as factors militating against the fairs.

“The manufacturing sector in the country has virtually collapsed, there is nothing to showcase. What are we going to showcase when the sector is almost dead? Are we going to showcase our traditional dances?  So the main objectives of the trade fair which is to showcase what we can produce and sell is no longer tainable. There is a loss of interest even on the part of serious business minded individuals,’’ he said

For the stimulation of the fair again, he said the manufacturing sector must be revived by putting in place favourable government policies.

“The second issue is that more and more of the resources of the nation is being concentrated in few hands. The so- called middle class which used to form the bulk of patronage of these trade fairs do no longer exist, this class has disappeared. We only now have the rich at the top and the poor at the bottom. The poor don’t have the purchasing power, the rich are too rich, they don’t care about these local fairs; they go oversees to buy what they want. So, there is a loss of interest in the trade fairs.

Veteran industrialist and Chairman of the Nigeria-Egypt Business council, Alhaji Mohammad Yusuf Lere, identified the transfer of major markets to the fair as the bane of its development.

“Most of the markets in the country are being transferred to the fair ground and nothing new is displayed.  This is why Nigerians are having apathy. Trade fairs are supposed to be an avenue for the display of new innovations, technologies and for the consolidation of business deals like signing of MoU, but it is now turned to a place for buying and selling alone,” he said.

Lack of proper follow up after the fair was also identified as another cause of the upturned in the sector by Lere. According to him, after the fair, there is need for the organizers to meet with the foreign exhibitors in order to know their successes, problems and they should together proffer solution to the problems.

“The organisers must show interest in all the participants. Appreciation letters should be written to them,” he added. Commending the organisers of Kaduna international trade fair for stepping up their campaigns, he said there is urgent need to address the chaotic situation and that adequate security should be provided in order to protect participants and their properties.

Lere who was a one-time Deputy President of KADCCIMA, said the organised private sector needs proper encouragement from the government because their role is very important in the development of the country’s economy.

On his part, the Director General of the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA), Alhaji Usman G. Saulawa blamed the situation on the world financial meltdown and lack of encouragement on the part of government.

He however ruled out the issue of security, saying Kaduna State is one of the most secure environments for business in the country following the security strategy of the state government.

“In other countries government are at the forefront in the promotion of trade fairs but here in Nigeria it is left for the organisers of the  fairs. The fair cannot grow in this situation. It is only when the fairs are fully supported by the government that the glamorous situation can return,’’ he said.

According to him, all the flourishing trade fairs in the world are booming because of the encouragement and backing of their government. To return to the glorious time, he said they have mapped out strategies. He said the strategies devised by them have started to yield result as many countries participated in this year’s fair.

“This is as a result of the trade missions we embarked upon to these countries to publicise our activities. We are working hard to return the glamour and flavour. It was not as if the fair was poorly attended, our new arrangement implemented this year to take hawkers off the roads, made it look that way,’’ he added.

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Furniture Making: The Millionare Business in Abuja


Mr. Taiwo Ojo is the MD/CEO of Grand Furnishing Company Limited based in Abuja. In this interview at his new factory, he bares his mind on the opportunities, innovations, challenges and the way forward for the furniture industry in Nigeria.

Can you tell us how you went into furniture business?

I started by working with another furniture company called Interior Woodwork Limited. It is one of the major furniture production companies in Abuja. I worked with them for seven years before I started my own. I’m very fortunate because I disengaged about a year ago and here I am today with a factory of mine. I was fortunate to win a contract with a major construction company here in Abuja. They gave me a job for the paneling of the wall and partition in the National Judicial Council and from where I was able to get the fund to set up my factory here.

Did you study anything related to what you are doing?

I’m a graduate of University of Ilorin. I graduated in 1992 and my discipline has nothing to do with furnishing because I’m a graduate of Social Administration. I also did Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.

I fell in love with the job when I moved from Kano to my former company, and I have been so many things to that company. I have been the head of production, head of Installation before I disengaged so I got to know the workings of furniture making through that company and I decided to make a vocation out of it.

What are the prospects of furniture industry in Nigeria?

The prospect is very great because if you look at Nigeria and particularly Abuja, many buildings are springing up. Though government pay lip service to the issue of building but private individuals and estate developers are all over the places and they require the services of carpenters like us to do the wardrobe,the kitchen, the doors and all that, so the prospect is really very high.

As a matter of fact, I want to believe now that we don’t have enough furniture makers in Nigeria to meet the demands, especially those who do the real thing not just the road side, we have quite a number of them but those who do the real thing that people want are very few.

How do you source your raw materials?

What we use here are what we called melamine face cheep boards or MFC. We import them mostly from China and these are boards that are fully finished in terms of the surface, all we do here is to cut them to sizes and then assemble and it become whatever we want it to be.

Can’t we manufacture some of these things in the country?

Of course we can. They are simple things. If you look at the Ajaokuta steel industry, we have everything but I don’t know what is keeping it down up till now. It’s just negligence on the part of government otherwise these are very simple things.

If you go to most Saw Mills, there are so many dust in the plain wood they cut that you can convert as raw materials to produce some of these boards but if you go to saw mills, you see heap of sawdust which are just set on fire as waste but these are the things that are used to make these article boards we are talking about.

If government is serious, it can encourage people or release funds to us to bring the machines and produce them and employ people and pay back their money.

What will you say about the recent unbanning of imported furniture’s in the country?

It’s definitely bad. As a matter of fact, some of us are thriving because of that ban. It is helping us to grow and develop but the good news is that I was speaking with my former MD few days ago, he said that unbanning did not hold water because it was not gazetted and that a lot of people that were importing furniture encountered problem at the point of arrival as Customs were seizing them because the Customs said though they heard over the news that there was an unbanning but there was no gazette to that effect so they are not working based on newspaper information or a circular from government.

As it is now, the unbanning has seized so we have gone back to the status quo whereby importation is still prohibited for furniture items and which is good for the company and Nigeria at large.

As small as this company is, we have employed not less than 20 people even though we have not started full operations because of the delay of the machines we are expecting but 20 people is not bad. If there is an unbanning, that means we will close shop and cause such people to go into the labour market which will further deplete the economy.

Does the quality of your products meet international standards?

Yes. The machines that are being used abroad are the machines that we imported into the country. So rather than go there and bring the finished goods, we have endeavored to bring those machines down to our country, the raw materials like I said earlier, are also imported.

The only thing that we are trying to do here is skill training. The difference between what we have here and there is the human being doing the job. Abroad they are more exposed and have good workers but here you have to train them to imbibe international standard and practices in what they do so if you see any difference, is the factor of the human doing the production element but for the machines, the raw materials, they are the same things.

Have you ever received assistance either from the government or financial institutions?

Absolutely no. When I was about to start my company, I had a challenge of how to raise money. Unfortunately I had no money, I just left my former place of employment. I approached my bank, unfortunately, the bankers too are not helping. All they were asking for was that I should bring collateral which I didn’t have.

They said if I have landed property here in Abuja, they could tie it to whatever money I want to collect but I said this is a contract paper from a reputable company. This is the value of the paper, you can do everything within your policy to release fund for this project but they said no, the best way out is for me to look for property anywhere.

I ran to an insurance company to see if I can get something like an insurance or performance bond which the company was requiring before they can give advance payment but they too were asking for collateral.

I was lucky to run into one of our old customer who also imports. He was the one that gave me the initial materials which I used to secure that particular job. So there is no support at all from government and most unfortunately even from banks that are supposed to be helping out.

Have you made any effort or know somebody who has been able to secure the N200 billion SMEs bailout fund?

I have not heard about anybody who has secured the fund for now.

How is the patronage like in the furniture business?

The patronage is very good and high especially in Abuja. Abuja residents go for quality. As long as you can give them what they want at an affordable price, the sky cannot even limit you. So many sites all over the place, the patronage is very impressive.

Can you tell us how much you make in a month even though you have not fully started?

My turnover in a month is about N5 million  just because I have not mounted my machines and I’m also careful not to take jobs that will stress and cause me to disappoint customers because I don’t have all the facilities right here now.

What are some of your challenges?

Number one constraint that is very well known to everybody is power as you can see I bought a 75KVA generator which is on standby. The second constraints is that of manpower. Like I said earlier on our people are used to the old method of doing things and this is a new horizon.

The products we are trying to produce can compete favorably with anyone elsewhere in the world and you cannot produce without the human factor. So the challenge of getting quality workers is also there but we are trying to overcome that by training and retraining the ones that we have.

The other challenge is fund. I said earlier on that in my initial take off, I had that challenge. If not that I was lucky to meet a friend who was willing to give me materials on credit, I might have lost out on the job completely and what that means is that I might have lost out on my dreams of having a factory like this.

Another   one may be government inconsistency in policy. We just talk about the issue of banning and unbanning; another government will come and do another thing. Most times, government play politics with the decisions they take not bearing in mind the far reaching consequences on the economy.

What is your message to unemployed graduates?

My message is simple. It is good to be educated because it will prepare you for the challenges ahead but we should not rely on the certificates because it is no longer a thing that is in vogue all over the world now. What is in vogue is for you to think deep within you.

I was trained as a social administrator and what that means is that I was supposed to be administrating to people in the prison, giving counsel to those who are distressed but I have gone way beyond that to think of what I can do that can generate employment for people. That should be the focal point of the new people coming into the labour force.

Government also should create a programme that will no longer be focused on certificates but on skill acquisition.

As I m  talking to you now there is skill gap in this furniture industry and if government identify it they can do something to begin to train people so that they can become marketable especially in the furniture industry.

I’m married with three children, two of them are in the secondary school and one is in the primary school, one boy two girls.

What is your message to managers of our economy?

They should remember that everyone has his or her role to play in the development of our nation. China today is said to be the second largest economy in the world apart from America. They got to that stage as a result of dedicated minds.

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