Nigerians in Diaspora Can Now Buy Anything Online

30 Aug 2012

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Mr. Adebola Akindele

Group Managing Director of Courteville Business Solutions Plc, Mr. Adebola Akindele, spoke with Amaka Eze on how Egole, its recently launched online platform will benefit Nigerians in Diaspora

Egole and its benefit to Nigerians in Diaspora

Egole is a Nigerian word in local dialect for “What is the Price”. What Courteville has done is to establish an online shopping mall for businesses and consumers to interact; without necessarily needing a physical structure to be able to do businesses; but can satisfy their daily requirement of buying and selling.

It is not restricted to just Nigeria, although we have just started in Nigeria; we believe it is catching up at a fast pace. Currently, it is the most robust online shopping platform in Nigeria and West Africa at this time.

The African and Caribbean Business Expo (ACCBE) as a platform to showcase Nigeria
What we have come to do at African and Caribbean Business Expo (ACCBE) essentially is to try and project this to the people in Diaspora.
There are lots of Nigerians and West Africans who are here and on the average; there is a need for them to transfer or to make transfers back and forth. Egole has been designed to do so many things as regards people’s shopping, buying monthly provision, seasonal stock and so on. This can be done without necessarily transferring cash or sending cash *physically across borders. People in London will be able to buy any product online, pay for same product online and have them delivered to their destinations.

Again, we are the co-sponsors of the Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL); that was concluded recently and there has been a lot of inquiries from marketers and sellers of various products; who participated at the AFWL about how they could come online and shop.

Interestingly, people from places like Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda actually requested to know how they could come on board. Thus is a better system of carrying out commerce and that is what Egole is all about.

Cost of platform to Courteville
First and foremost, what we have done is to say that the ACCBE experience should give us the leverage that would probably allow us to move our business faster into countries outside Nigeria and Sierra-Leone; where we currently operate; but between Africa and the Caribbean in the first instance. We have targeted a very significant percentage of our turnover as the marketing expense for this and that is part of what we have done. I don’t want to quote exact figures; but I can tell you it’s in millions of US dollars.

On how Nigerians are reacting to Egole
Interestingly we just launched Egole at the beginning of July and activities had started prior to that time, but as at the end of July we had over 100 merchants on board and over 25,000 products and this is growing. This is because as awareness is being created, we have more people coming. They are actually more people joining and are ready to pay. These are merchants, a lot people are now doing most of their commercial activities online from Egole.

For example, at home, my family and a number of families around us, I know shop on Egole; all products like top up card, online purchases of computer and technology equipment and other goods are on Egole, foodstuffs and so on. Logistics are cheap on Egole in terms of how and where to deliver; maximum in 48 hours, for the client to receive whatever was purchased; once it’s during the working hours of the shopping time.

Challenges faced so far
The major challenge is essentially the fact that we still have to operate based on merchants who will not necessarily stock majority of the items that people would want to buy. For example, if you want to buy items, and you need to buy from up to three or four merchants at once, this creates problem for logistics; not necessarily in picking and delivering; but in terms of how shipping costs are addressed. However, Courteville is looking to address this and we will come up with a solution soon. First and foremost, what we have done is to increase the size of the courier companies that are involved.

It will interest you to know that a universal company, FedEx is on board. That means we can reach anywhere in the world whenever we want to do so. This has reduced the cost of delivery; it’s the cheapest of such anywhere in West Africa at this time and we will get to that point where in a one stop shop, a customer can get all the goods needed; because we are working with other potential investors.

There will be a situation whereby we will have everything in one warehouse; thus reducing the cost of logistics.
Beyond this, we are still facing the challenge of trust. We are looking to create awareness for people to believe in what we are doing in Egole; although this was very important during the test run of Egole, which helped us win the confidence of many. People are yet to really trust what could be achievable with online transactions, because they don’t want to be scammed out of money. We therefore assure our potential buyers that their purchases can be securely delivered to them without anybody cheating them out of their money. This is one of the major challenges we are facing and we have been doing a lot of public relations and marketing effort to create awareness in this area.

Expectations in the first year of operation
In the first year, we will hope to achieve up to 10 per cent in terms of Courteville’s revenue projection for 2012. We started midway into the year; in July as I earlier said and we would go out to achieve these expectations because we are going to put in a lot of resources by creating awareness of what the facilities and opportunities are on the Egole platform.

Surviving Competition
Competition is good for any business, as it will help you look beyond your possible reach. As we all know, in this era of cashless or cashlite policy, there have been attempts by several companies to launch such online platforms before now. It might interest you to know that although we just launched Egole in July of 2012, we have spent some years working on it, it has taken four years (2008-2012), of our time and resources to execute and establish a very strong base, so we are confident that no competition will bring us down.

Again, we believe that we have the expertise, background and antecedent to be able to achieve this level of success. Everything that we have tried putting out in the market has been successful to a certain extent and we pray to God that this will also succeed.
There are a number of other small efforts both in Nigeria and outside Nigeria; but like I earlier said, in everything we do, Egole will be the foremost business solutions Company in Nigeria and the world.

Benefit to Stakeholders
It’s straight forward, when there is no business; there is no revenue, if you are careful that translates to profit, if there is no profit, there is nothing for shareholders to benefit; as we have stated, in five years, if we are able to achieve our target, it could translate to improved dividend pay-out to shareholders of the company.

Future outlook
Egole is our key efforts at making sure that we diversify our business base; from Government related activities and we hope that within five years, Egole will be in the forefront of being an entirely private sector established and driven business on the Courteville platform. We expect that in five years, we should be doing up to 50 per cent or more of what Courteville will achieve in terms of revenue.

Our success will speak for Egole, our antecedent and the believe that people have in Courteville, in our structure, integrity and ability to deliver on everything that we have always promised to do, we will sell Egole; but more importantly, we always will continue to put a lot of effort into marketing and work with the people who would project the successes of the Egole.

Profile of Bola Akindele

BOLA AKINDELE (born November 25, 1963) attended University of Ife, Ile-Ife and University of Lagos respectively. He has acquired higher degrees such as B.AGRIC (HONS), F.C.A, MNIN, MBF and ACIT.

He has attended many courses and seminars locally and abroad in the areas of; Bank examination and inspection, External audit and control, Internal audit and control, Banking operations, Business development, Strategy formulation, implementation and control, Oil and Gas, Telecommunication, Import and Export of commodities, Foreign exchange trading, Manufacturing.

He is the Managing Director of Courteville Business Solutions PLC, which currently has operations in more than eighteen states in Nigeria. Due to his critical thinking and adept negotiating that can apply extensive knowledge of industry and government regulations to rapid revenue and profit growth opportunities, he has been able to work in several notable organizations across the country, such are Fountain Trust Bank Plc (now Spring Bank Plc), Oceanic Bank Int. Ltd, Central Bank of Nigeria.

He had his accountancy and audit training with KPMG Ani Ogunde & Co.
Bola Akindele, is currently on the board of the following companies: Synergy Capital and Advisory (Director), Forsters Estate Ltd (Chairman), Bolbis Ventures (Chairman).

He established Courteville Business Solutions PLC from cradle, leveraging on business & personal relationships over time to build aggressive client base within a short period of time and finally develop and patent innovative business solutions.

He is an Alumnus of Lagos Business School, London Business School, INSEAD and a member of World Business Forum. He has attended various seminars and workshops which cut across diverse industries specifically Financial Services, Human Resources Management and Logistics as well as several functional areas such as Risk Management and Bank Fraud Control & Prevention, Information Technology Systems Audit, Strategic Customer Service Management and Treasury Management

He is also Member of Institute of Directors and a Doctoral Candidate in Business Administration at the International school of Management, Paris.

Tags: Business, Nigeria, Featured, Nigerians, Diaspora, Online

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