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Nigeria has great potential in the Agribusiness sector- Seun Owoola

In this interview our correspondent Bukola Afeni spoke with Bamidele Seun Owoola on her ongoing Agri investment club, and the impact her organization is making in the Maritime, Trade and investment sector.

 

Can we meet you?

My  name is Bamidele Seun  Owoola. I am the CEO of   Welcome 2 Africa international, which  is a trade and investment facilitation company. We  promote and facilitate investment with stakeholders engagement, and we also have an ongoing investment club, and we focus very much on the agriculture sector. We have spent  number of years organising conferences, it has been an amazing business, as we are growing, we are now exploring other ways so we  will be more impactful.

Can you tell us more about the importance of investment and trade promotion?

Nigeria has a very interesting image, I will give you just a quick story, I have relative here who is from Ghana, and he was complaining that Nigeria is a  corrupt country, and that  the amount of corrupt people in Ghana is less.  I said to him, Ghana is like Lagos State.  Nigeria has more people than Ghana , so you expect more figures from Nigeria rather than Ghana.

With this point in mind, if there is one corrupt person in Ghana obviously because Nigeria is bigger you will have more of that corrupt person in Nigeria. So if Ghana’s population is 2 million and Nigeria is 20 million, that means if there is one corrupt person in Ghana, then there will 20 corrupt person in Nigeria. In the same vein, if there is one rich person in Ghana, there will be 20 rich people in Nigeria. The country’s image unfortunately sometimes is not always the best, but the truth of the matter is that there is potential. There are so many opportunities in the country, and whether we like it or not, people are making progress. The story we decide to tell about Nigeria will determine the type of positive impact that Nigeria will get.

The importance of trade and investment promotion for Nigeria is that if we consistently showcase the opportunities that exist in the country, we will attract those that we want to mutually benefit from this opportunities, and as a result the country will deliver result.

Do you reach out to only the people in agriculture sector or you work in other sectors of the economy?

So, the main sector that we are focusing  on is  maritime  and agriculture. Maritime is closely related to  trade and agriculture. It represents one of the biggest opportunities in Nigeria, so these  are the two sectors that we focus on for now, eventually we will expand to other sector and perhaps cover other countries.

When is the conference coming up?

So, we have many conferences happening over the period of the year, the next programme coming up is our investor meet up, which is where we bring investors and agri businesses to the same room.
This agri businesses make presentations to the  investors, with the hope of securing additional finance.

Are the business owners going  to pay back the money you are giving them or is  it a grant?

The money is not coming from us, it is coming from the investors. In finance there are different types of funding, we have investment in terms of equity, and we have investment in terms of loan, and also grant opportunities.
Our funding is a combination of either investment, equity or debt, but the nature depends on the opportunity at hand.Our organization serves as  a network to facilitate between the grantee and the donor?
So we have been organizing conferences for quite some time, it  always attract investors, because we wanted to create a club where we can engage investors by sharing  opportunities related to  data.We encourage them to make informed investment decisions, either as a member of the investment club, an individual or corporate body. We provide our members with relevant data. There is an ongoing initiative called upscale initiative, the whole idea of the upscale initiative is to groom enterprenuers that are looking for finance, and present them to the members of the investors club to facilitate access to finance.

How do you feel Nigeria can attract more investments?

The Ministry of Trade and investment along with Nigeria investment Promotion Commission have a big role to play, by mapping out some of the opportunities that exist and packaging them in a way that will appeal to additional investors or those in trade and investment. I feel it is about time we really begin to study where the lapses are, and fill some of the gaps.

You sound like a liason between those in the Agri sector and grantors?

We serve as a platform for agricultural stakeholders and not just in Nigeria but also outside Nigeria but the focus is always on Nigeria agricultural sector, so we focus on a platform for building an ecosystem.

Where do you see yourself in five years to come?

By the special grace of God we will have our own investment fund where we will be investing directly into companies. At the same time,we will have added other sectors to our areas of concentration. We will have expanded across other African countries, and create impact in those countries while maintaining a strong relationship with foreign countries.

Why the particular interest in agriculture, did you study Agriculture as a course of study in school?

So I never study agriculture, the reason why I focus on Agri investment is because it is the sector that probably have the most impacts on work creation and poverty alleviation, and it is a sector that cuts across all the other area of life.
It is interrelated to infrastructure, it cuts across energy, retail sector, and even health.For example, what we eat and how we eat, cut across transportation and logistics, it cut across many other sectors and we even seen that through Agriculture, we now got an emergence in maritime, and it very essential to trade and  agriculture. It is very important that they work hand in hand with trade and investment. This is where we have more impact.

What advise do you have for women who want to go to into your line of business?

The advise I have for women is the same I have for men, this is because growing up I received more support and encouragement from my dad. My advise is not really restricted to women, I don’t feel there is  much difference when it comes to business.I will say always try to be somebody of value, and be persistent.

I don’t think that there is anything fantastic about me to be honest, the only thing that has stood me apart over the years is persistence and consistence. If you keep telling someone or organization something, and say the same thing over and over again they will buy into your vision.Its like you are looking for a job, and you sent a CV once, they may throw the CV away, but if you keep sending that CV every single day, eventually they will say come let us give you a try. So I think persistence go a very long way, and of course being of tremendous value.

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