Niyi Adenubi is the Co-Founder and Executive Director, Institutional Business & Investor Relations of VFD Group Plc, a proprietary investment company based in Lagos. Adenubi, a trained investment banker with over 10 years of hands-on experience in Private Equity, Venture Capitalism, and Financial Advisory started his banking career in his mid-20s in London and at various instances, he has played specific oversight on Corporate Governance and Financial Advisory roles to numerous firms both in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom, most notably with the Royal Bank of Scotland and ATOS Consulting.
In this recent interview with Eleni Giokos of CNN Marketplace Africa, Adenubi, bares his mind on a range of issues including the success of the Group’s digital bank, V bank, and expansion plans.
At what point did you begin to think of starting a firm?
In my mid-20s, I was an investment banker in London. After about three or four years in investment banking consulting, I started thinking about my country and the continent. I started thinking of how to build businesses and create values in that space. My only expertise is investment banking so very quickly I set up an investment management firm called Paragon Partners and since that time we created 10-year strategies to build out initially a financial service holding company now a diversified investment company looking at financial services, power, education, and media – which is VFD Group.
Reading through the VFD Group corporate strategies, it is interesting to see a word about holding a positively socially conscious ecosystem. Do you really go in with this socially conscious kind of agenda?
I think the balance is extremely important. When we came up with those concepts, for us sustainability was very important. So, we want a sustainable business that is profitable but is also socially conscious. We are building people; we are lifting people out of poverty; we are giving people a chance to access capital either debt financing for their businesses or equity financing for their businesses as they go on to employ people. And those things matter to us because without that sustainability you cannot build that ecosystem and a country that has viable jobs for the young population. That was very key to what we were trying to achieve. However, if you do all those things and you do not make money you are also unsustainable
In terms of market shares, what are you aiming for and what is the next phase for you?
Some of that information is private and confidential but what I will tell you is that we are on track till half year 2021 to gain about 15% of the total banking market for our platform and once we do that we’ve ascertained that V bank is already a success. We would go from there to build. The initial plan was 15% to 20% of the initial banking market and either way, we are on track to meet that target even before half year next year.
What is the most exciting sector for you right now, where are you seeing the best opportunity coupled with the social impact you say. Where are you seeing the best alignment at the moment?
I will say easily it’s in financial technology. I know that’s been oversold but I think the story of Africa cannot over-sell the concept of involving 80% to 90% of the entire population bringing them into the financial space and banking sector. Till today, I think we still have about 40 million accounts, out of a population of 200 million. We will probably look at the power sector too as it is also an interesting space; Fintech also, definitely; and as we go along, we continue to transition.
Clearly, you and your team are thinking of the long term so what is the plan in 5 to 10 years, do you want to be a Pan African banking giant or group across many sectors?
We want to be a Pan African Investment company. We are already looking at Ghana and we have started a conversation in Ghana. We are looking to deploy a small payment bank in Ghana using the V Bank platform. From Ghana, we also looking at Kenya- it’s a very exciting market. We definitely have ambition for Africa and if we get lucky in our lifetime, we will go global, but I am quite hopeful that we can land in Africa.
International Breweries To Train 500 Young Entrepreneurs Through Kickstart Initiative
As part of its commitment to bringing people together for a better world and its objective of delivering impactful, developmental and sustainable projects, International Breweries Plc through its social investment arm, International Breweries Foundation has launched the 6th edition of its Kickstart entrepreneurship programme recently.
The initiative is targeted at enterprise growth and development for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35.
During a media briefing to update the public on the process of this year’s edition, Managing Director, International Breweries Plc, Hugo Rocha expressed delight that the Kickstart Initiative had evolved from the regional programme it used to be, to an inclusive national programme that reaches the six geopolitical zones and 36 states of Nigeria.
“Over the years, we have held the conviction that the energy, zeal, and brilliance of the youths of Nigeria who constitute about 70 percent of the total population should be tapped and channelled to productive use. This is the logic behind Kickstart – to promote a culture of entrepreneurship among young people through training, provision of capital and mentorship,” Rocha said.
Rocha concluded his remarks on a high note, stating that, “as International Breweries celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, I am pleased that the results of a 3-year impact assessment study that we commissioned on Kickstart came out positive and gives us the confidence to continue to support young people to achieve their dream of entrepreneurship. We remain steadfast in our commitment towards the economic development of Nigeria”
Also speaking at the press conference, Chairman, Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Peter Bamkole explained that International Breweries Plc and its foundation is dedicated to continuing to contribute its quota towards tackling the twin challenges of unemployment and poverty while promoting Decent Work and Economic Growth in line with Goad 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDGs).
“By creating Kickstart, International Breweries Foundation set out to be the nursery of innovation in a business where budding enterprise managers are groomed—held by the hand and taken through the rigour of entrepreneurial work. We aim to produce well-rounded entrepreneurs who understand and are prepared to put in the work it takes to do business successfully in a unique climate like ours.” Bamkole said.
Over the past five years, the Kickstart initiative has provided training, mentoring, and seed capital of N325,136 million (in total) for 274 grantees; 708 direct beneficiaries and 2,832 indirect beneficiaries across a wide range of business sectors; with the result of the creation of about 571 jobs and 1,392 new jobs projected across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Speaking on the mechanics of the award, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, International Breweries Plc, Temitope Oguntokun revealed that the award is in three phases: the application phase, the training phase and the pitch fest phase which is the final selection of grantees by judges.
She explained that the Kickstart Initiative will be incorporating an expansive training module that will train 500 young entrepreneurs online, with a number of them going into the bootcamp. This year’s edition also features a streamlined search for entrepreneurs into Agriculture, Modular Retailing, Circular Packaging (Recycling), Technology, and Renewable Energy sectors.
“After a transparent selection process on the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) platform via the link, https://reg.smetoolkit.ng/program-apply/kickstart-nigeria-2021, which will open on the 20th of May, successful applicants will be equipped with critical skills and training on entrepreneurship by experienced entrepreneurs and corporate professionals during a 2-day boot camp. They will partake at the pitch fest where a panel of judges will appraise their proposals before final selection. Winners of the pitch fest will then be awarded grants at the awards ceremony in Lagos,” Oguntokun noted.
The press launch which held last week in Lagos had in attendance dignitaries such as the Director for Employment, Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs Iyabo Seriki-Bello, Director of Partnerships and Coordination for Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria; Dr Friday Okpara; Chairman, Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Mr Peter Bamkole; members of the International Breweries team, past Kickstart Alumni, mentors and a host of others joining online.
Following its trajectory of success, impact over the years, and its extensive yet immersive plans for the 6th edition, Kickstart, under the auspices of International Breweries and its foundation is geared towards transforming Nigeria into an economic powerhouse through the impact of entrepreneurship.
Nestlé Health Science to Acquire Nuun
Nestlé Health Science and Nuun, a leader in functional hydration, have entered into an agreement in which Nestlé Health Science will acquire Nuun.
The acquisition complements Nestlé Health Science’s existing broad portfolio of active lifestyle nutrition brands with Nuun’s range of clean, low-sugar, effervescent tablets and powders.
“Every day, health-conscious consumers are becoming more aware of how functional hydration products can add to their overall well-being as well as support them during exercise by replacing the minerals that the body loses. That growing awareness is reflected in the steady growth of the category,” said Greg Behar, CEO of Nestlé Health Science. “Nuun is a leader in the fast-growing functional hydration category with its high-quality, clean, plant-based products. We look forward to combining our companies’ expertise to bring Nuun to more people around the world.”
Nuun was founded in Seattle, Washington in 2004, pioneering the separation of electrolyte replacement from carbohydrates. Its low-sugar electrolyte tablet revolutionized the sports beverage market. It now has a broad range of effervescent tablets and powders containing additional minerals and vitamins for energy, relaxation and overall well-being.
“Nestlé Health Science and Nuun share the same philosophy: nothing is more important than health and well-being,” said Kevin Rutherford, CEO of Nuun. “In joining Nestlé Health Science, Nuun will further its mission of ‘hydration that empowers the world to move more.’ The Nuun team has built an incredible business and now with the reach, expertise and capabilities of Nestlé, I’m confident that together we will grow, even more, making people and the planet healthier.”
The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2021. Financial details are not being disclosed.
itel Partners Amatem and Drug-Aid Distributes Relief Materials In Fight Against Malaria
To commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day, itel recently partnered with Amatem Softgel, an anti-malaria drug in Nigeria, and Drug-Aid Africa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that provides medical drug supplies and support to low-income patients in Nigeria and across Africa.
A statement by itel explained that in tandem with the theme of this year’s World Malaria Day, ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’, the three brands joined the global fight against malaria by donating treated mosquito nets, free medical tests, mosquito repellent cream and free anti-malaria drugs to over 1,500 households in Isale-Akoka Community, Bariga, Lagos state.
It explained that malaria is a prevalent disease in sub-Saharan Africa, and was responsible for thousands of deaths yearly, adding that as socially responsible organisations, itel, Amatem Softgel, and Drug-Aid Africa, “believe that they have a quota to contribute in ensuring a relatively healthier society.”
The Marketing Manager for West Africa and Nigeria, itel, Oke Umurhohwo, expressed commitment in bridging the gap in low-income communities through its ‘Love Always On CSR initiative.’
He added that the brand was partnering with Amatem Softgel and Drug Aid Africa to provide these communities, “with an even greater fighting chance against malaria is a part of our commitment to them.”
The General Manager, Elbe Pharma, Shivakumar, said: “Malaria is a life-threatening disease, but it is preventable and curable. We at Elbe continue to find a better way to combat this disease, support the vulnerable ones especially the young children. Hence, the introduction of this innovative anti-malaria brand AMATEM SOFTGEL and this CSR partnership.”
The Programme Officer, Drug-Aid Africa, Oluseyi Sanyaolu, said malaria has been ravaging the vulnerable in the society for years, saying, “it is the reasons why Drug-Aid Africa is dedicated to supporting those in indigent communities with medicines and medical supplies. Together, we can end this menace.”
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