Eight years after Arabel Nigeria Limited, the leading Islamic material store in Nigerian instituted a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative that entails giving the commercial city of Lagos an Islamic feel during Ramadan, the company unveiled a set of billboards to commemorate this year’s fasting season. The billboards, which were strategically located in Lagos, came with inspirational messages and aesthetic illustration that appealed to all Nigerians, regardless of religion and region.

Unlike the previous years, the company only explored two platforms this year as a result of what its Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Abiola Andu, ascribed to the current economic downturn in the country.

“We couldn’t do elaborate thing in the area of Lagos beautification during this year’s Ramadan season because of the economic situation in the country; people are going through downturn economically. However, because of the promise we have made that during Ramadan, Lagosians would feel Ramadan, we still went ahead but it was not as elaborated as those of previous years. We erected billboards that carried the messages we have always desired to send across to Nigerians. But before now, we would do billboards, did lampposts and we branded buses but we are restricting it to billboard this year. However, we still posted inspirational messages and in fact, we started in some part of Ikorodu and Epe but we later covered the whole city.

Speaking further, Andu said the feedbacks from the previous interventions had always been fantastic because before Arabel ventured into the area, no company or individual in Nigeria was celebrating Ramadan the way it did.

“Before Arabel came in to fill the gap, Ramadan was a personal thing in Nigeria but we introduced a corporate angle into it. We started celebrating with Nigerians and we make the residents of the commercial city of Lagos to feel the importance of the Ramadan period. So, year after year, people always look forward to the period and our initiatives, especially the inspirational messages, with which we greet our customers and people of Lagos. The beauty of it is that Arabel is not only preaching Islam, but preaching peace too. It is always inspirational and it touches everybody, regardless of religion. It has always been well appreciated,”

Reacting to the beautification of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMA 2), which was handled by her company, Andu said it was an exclusive decision of the management of the airport to give it an Islamic feel and not Arabel idea. According to her, at a point, people started realising the need to key into the season and acknowledge the importance of friends and patrons during the season, adding that the management of MMA2 simply followed the trend and decided to beautify their domain and give it Islamic touch during Ramadan. She further stated that the airport only approached Arabel to give the environment an Islamic touch. A decision Andu felt must have been informed by her company’s pedigree and antecedent in that regard.

The rest as the saying goes becomes history because for the first time, one can now see the ticketing point, departure lounge and other places at MMA 2 wearing Islamic toga.

The Arabel boss, who stated that the city beautification during Ramadan season was her company’s Corporate Social Responsibility, pointed out that an individual, who believed in her vision supported the initiative for 7 years.

“It is our own CSR at Arabel and we have made up our mind that come what may, we will be doing this every year to celebrate the season with Arabel customers. As much as God gives us the strength we will continue to do it. It has already been institutionalised in what we do in Arabel. Before, a well-meaning Nigerian who shared the vision and passionate about what we were doing had always helped us but we don’t have that again.

At this point, I want to pray that Allah will continue to reward this individual, who silently helped us for years without blowing the trumpet. It was a selfless service that was done to contribute his quota to the service of God and humanity during Ramadan. Again, we have been able to sustain it because the person actually put in place a good structure for us to be able to sustain it and the structure has been very helpful. The person actually believed in the dream and did it for eight years,”

It was a selfless service that was done to contribute his quota to the service of God and humanity during Ramadan. Again, we have been able to sustain it because the person actually put in place a good structure for us to be able to sustain it and the structure has been very helpful. The person actually believed in the dream and did it for eight years,”

On sustainability, Andu said she was committed to the project and will make sure it doesn’t die a premature death as it will always be a platform to celebrate with customers. She however didn’t rule out the possibility of partnering a corporate organisation in future if any company comes forward to identify with Arabel.

“Of course, we will welcome any corporate organisation that extends its hand to support us; it is just that we have not explored that avenue before. If we get corporate partnership and endorsement, then the project will be bigger and it will come with fresh innovation.

Reacting to her decision to throw her weight behind the project during this economic recession when many companies are cutting down their budgets, Andu simply said it was the smartest thing to do. She referred to what she was taught in the Business School a long time ago that the best time to make money for some people is when there is a recession. She said she support the school of thought because there will be a lot of opportunities that people will not see.

“For me, I know that this time around not many people are advertising or investing in CSR so if I slow down, our patrons may be totally detached from what we are doing. Again, I know that not many organisations are craving for attention at this period and the little we do will go a long way in achieving our objectives.

It will be easy for people to know that Arabel is a company who will always be there for them and that when things were hard, they are there as well. Though, I try to slow down a bit but still able to set aside small amount of resources to do what we are known for and we are happy about that,” she said