The first edition of Eko Business Dinner is scheduled for next month and the Chairman of Afro- Heritage Limited, the company packaging the dinner and one time Benue State legislator, Hon Joshua Ogbole talks to Olaoluwakitan Babatunde about the event as well as the vision behind it
Was there a noticeable vacuum in Nigeria’s business circuit that led to the conception of the Eko Business Dinner (EBD)?
Yes, there was and the current upheaval in Nigeria’s economy requires a deliberate attempt to restore and build the economy. This is achievable through collaboration, networking, getting referrals and making contacts as well as partnership with foreign investors, especially from countries that have gone through what we are going through now. This is what “The Eko Business Dinner” is aimed at achieving.
Who are your target audience?
Our target is a mixture of the public and private sectors. The two must complement each other to come out strong from the recession. The international communities through their envoys are also a strong target and we are grateful to the Indonesian government who has lent us some support and collaborating with us through the Indonesia Trade Promotion Centre( ITPC Lagos, Nigeria) of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Nigeria.
You will be hosting the first edition by Oct 22 , can you tell us more about it?
The Eko Business Dinner is an informal executive business networking event fororganisations, companies and business interests from and around Nigeria and foreign investors.
It is a quarterly event for local and foreign investors and multinationalorganisations seeking trade and investment opportunities.
The theme for this edition coming up by the 22nd October 2016 is titled: Nigeria’s Economy Today: A Need for Collaboration?
A choice number of foreign and indigenous banks will be in attendance, particularly to inform the people on how and where to procure single digit interest rates
It is a great forum for Nigerian states, organizations and businesses to inform the world of their economic strengths or needs, structures, natural resources and export potentials to a select and capable group of foreign and indigenous investors alike.
What should guests and participants expect from the first edition?
They should expect first hand interaction with dignitaries and executives of organisations. There would also be cross pollination of ideas and discussions as well as referrals and exchange of contacts and opportunities to acquire comfortable soft and long-term loans.
Networking has become some sort of a buzzword in Nigeria with several networking Fora and business networks springing up. What unique value propositions does the Eko Business Dinner offer enthusiasts?
The Eko Business Dinner offers enthusiasts an opportunity to achieve their lives’ dreams through first hand networking with the biggest players from local and international businesses. This will become increasingly evident with every edition of the Eko Business Dinner.
Is there a possibility of the Eko Business Dinner becoming a Business Club, with charter and membership opportunities and privilege?
Yes, there is that possibility, as long as we keep our vision in check. We will also introduce concepts that can advance our aims and objectives.
What vision do you have for Eko Business Dinner – say within the next 5 to 10 years?
Our vision is to become Africa’s number one business networking and referral platform, creating opportunities for exponential economic growth.
What are your thoughts on the ongoing recession? Any concrete ideas on how the government can successfully navigate this narrow pass? And do you think we are in this for the long haul?
The Nigerian President and his economic team are doing their best to salvage the depreciating economy. To quickly pull through this however; there must be huge development in Agriculture, local manufacturing of major consumables and a deliberate attempt to export more products, other than oil. This is why the Government at various levels should support Eko Business Dinner, including the business community in Nigeria. I recommend that groups like the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other non- governmental association to pick up tickets and be part of the Eko Business Dinner.
Do you see the Eko Business Dinner morphing into a forum that can be used to influence government’s policy direction as it affects local and international businesses?
Yes, we do. We hope to have lots of foreign deals sealed every quarter through the Eko Business Dinner. We see a future that will welcome international business conferences and fairs, courtesy of the Eko Business Dinner and are on the front burner of major local and foreign news.
What are your international partners and associates telling you about Nigeria’s current economic situation? With airlines and shipping companies leaving and businesses closing, massive job losses, is Nigeria investment-worthy at this point – is it a safe investment destination?
Nigeria’s exceptional business and investment opportunities centre on our huge natural resources, human resources and population. This is a huge advantage for us in Africa. Attracting multi-million or billion dollar investments depends on our ability to look at the positive sides of our country and enhance those things that can attract quality investors to the country. This is what the Eko Business Dinner is doing, and we are attracting investments that will stimulate the economy through networking, collaboration and partnerships.
Any word for Nigerian startups that may be losing confidence, amid the recession?
The Nigerian economy will come out stronger, out of the present day reality. We will export food, natural and human resources to the length and breadth of the world and build a first class economy. This however will only be possible if we consciously make efforts to discuss and collaborate through platforms like the Eko Business Dinner. I recommend that the Nigerian Business community; Business men and women do attend this revolutionary, informal business networking dinner event.
Tell us about your self
My name is Hon. Joshua Ogbole and I am married with three lovely children. I am a Lawyer by profession and Chairman of Wood Head Nigeria Limited; which is a real estate company with offices in Lagos and Abuja. I am also on the Board of Directors of the Emmanuel Ogbole Foundation; a Non-Governmental, non- profit organization which is aimed at rewarding hard work, honesty and people who have distinguished themselves in their chosen endeavour.
I am also the Chairman of Afro- Heritage Limited, a pan African organization with offices in Lagos and Abuja. The company’s vision is aimed at enhancing the potentials of the African community and this is achievable through our numerous projects like the, “Lend a hand,” and the Eko Business Dinner,” amongst others.
I have also been involved in active politics where I represented my Constituency at the Benue State House of Assembly in the last dispensation. I chaired the House Committee on Judiciary and Ethics and I was a member of other very important committees.
I am a business man and my business contacts cut across Europe, United States of America, South Africa and recently, South East Asia. These contacts have no doubt provided me with opportunities to travel for international business meetings, trade fairs and conferences, to mention a few.
My exposure and contacts will bring to bear a lot at the Eko Business Dinner; where my friends and business associates from Nigeria and abroad will be in attendance.