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Govt should provide power for industries to improve on industrialisation -Mrs. Folashade Okoya

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Mrs. Folashade Okoya is the CEO of Eleganza Group, a leading conglomerate in the manufacturing industry founded by her husband, Chief Razaq OKOYA, CON.

In this interview, Mrs. OKOYA, who clocked 47 years recently, talks about the business and how the industry has contributed to the economic development of the country, among other issues. Except:

Managing an industry of this size is no easy feat for anyone, how have you as a woman been able to succeed in steering its affairs in a male-dominated world, successfully?

Thank you very much. It’s indeed a very interesting experience.  To be honest it has not been easy but I just get on with work and deal with the challenges that come with it. The problems of Forex, Power, and Customers Satisfaction cannot be solved with gender preference. So, my focus is always on maximizing our available resources to deliver first-class quality products, made in Nigeria, at the most affordable prices to meet the demands of our customers.

The sector you operate in- manufacturing- has been beset by many challenges in the last few years (FX, input costs, energy costs etc); how are you navigating these challenges to stay afloat?

Among all these challenges, the cost of power generation and the unstable Foreign Exchange Rates are among our biggest nightmares.

We predominantly run on diesel generators and thus have had to come up with creative strategies, amongst which is reducing our profit margins in order to remain in business.

Industries have been urged to embrace Backwards integration to reduce FX exposure, how much has this helped you and how much of your needed materials are locally sourced?

For us at Eleganza Industries, we indulge into backward integration by producing our packaging materials which has helped us to control our costs significantly amidst all the instability.

You have been credited for a lot of the transformation efforts this business has undergone in the last decade, tell us a bit about them and how they have kept Eleganza relevant?

I’ll begin by acknowledging that nothing we have achieved at Eleganza Industrial City would be possible without the guidance and support of our Chairman, Chief Razak Okoya. He laid the foundation by building a strong brand name for the Eleganza Group.

Eleganza was mostly known for its cooling boxes and biros back in the day. I embarked on market research to determine new routes for expansion and came up with several product lines that had not been produced before.

To the Glory of God, we produce most of the party and events chairs in Nigeria right now.

The events industry is a major market for us, likewise, stadium seats, luggage, school furniture, diapers, sanitary wear and of course, the flagship Eleganza coolers have now been remodeled with more contemporary designs in line with international standards.

Right now, I’m proud that our chair manufacturing line is the biggest product in the group. This was my idea and baby.

What would you say has been your driving force and motivation?

 

Having an industrialist as a husband has greatly inspired me to also become not just a diligent wife ,but a good businesswoman focused on making  positive impact in the society .

When I see people using our products like diapers, chairs, or luggage etc., it gladdens my heart that we are making an impact in households across the continent.

That is a key motivation for me to keep on going so that the Eleganza legacy will be kept alive from one generation to another.

Looking at current realities, would you say production costs and in turn, the cost of goods, would see any reprieve soon?

Yes, there is hope for Nigeria, our prayer is that the current policies the government is putting in place will have a positive effect on the wider economy and manufacturers like us.

The exchange rate is coming down gradually, we just pray it remains so for the long term .

Manufacturing is the bedrock of any economy; how best can Nigeria improve on industrialization?

Provide power for industries first. Once industries have stable and cost-effective power, then we can talk about being the bedrock of the economy.

If given the opportunity, what would you do/advice can be done to revamp this sector for proper optimization and growth?

Ans: Again, Power is very critical for manufacturing, a stable exchange rate is also essential amongst other things. The authorities know all the burdens of manufacturers, we have shared this with them on many occasions, they need to bring lasting solutions to our power and FX issues .

As a major player in the plastics industry, how are you encouraging sustainability and recycling processes?

Oh, very well. Our products are all reusable and not created for single use. We don’t even produce disposable products because of its harmful nature to our environment. We are presently studying various recycling models and in due course we will decide on the best practice for us as a business.

Your business has been in existence for six decades, what are you doing to ensure its continuity for many more years?

We will keep researching, innovating into current markets needs and using cutting-edge technology to produce quality, proudly made in Nigeria products at affordable prices for our people.  Also, all stakeholders will work together to retain its existence and maintain the enviable brand name which our mentor, Chief Rasaq Okoya, CON had created.

 

For a better society

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