Group Managing Director of Genesis Group, Dr. Nnaeto Orazulike, in this interview with Raheem Akingbolu, speaks about the idea behind Project L.E.A.D, an initiative conceptualised by Genesis Cinema in partnership with Strategic Educational Advisory Services, to inspire Nigerian Children
Genesis has been around for over two decades, how is the brand doing now?
As a group, Genesis is almost 25 year old, having been set up in 1991. At the beginning, it was primarily into hospitality and entertainment, with interest in restaurants, industrial catering, food production, hotels and the cinemas. The cinema is another division welcomed into the family about eight years ago. It is presently in about seven different locations. In Lagos alone, we have at Oniru, Sangotedo and Lekki Mall. We are in Port Harcourt, Warri Mall, Abuja Ceddi Plaza, Maryland in Lagos and Owerri Mall. However, there is still plan to grow beyond what we have now. We also plan to do a couple of malls in Mainland Lagos.
What informed Project L.E.A.D?
Project L.E.A.D, which simply means; Live Everyday Achieving Dreams is something that has always been at the heart of the group, so we believe what is currently happening in Genesis is like a dream come true. Genesis Group was motivated by a book I read then. It was about two young ones who had a dream and were able to achieve that dream. It was at that time it first occurred to me to embark on an initiative that mirrors that particular scenario.
Today, we are glad to be inviting couple of children in Nigeria. When that opportunity came, we decided to use the platform of one of our businesses to promote people so that they can build their dreams most especially at this recession.
We jumped at it and saw the movie: Queen of Katwe as a vehicle to build and inspire the young people especially at this time of recession. By that, I mean what we needed to do to inspire the young people to achieve their dreams. We have put all our resources behind it but with cooperation of movie distributors, strategic education of our partners, we are using this to inspire people and we have named it Project L.E.AD. For me, it means using the platform to motivate the people.
Is this your first involvement in CSR focused initiative?
I have continuously done this in different ways without even capturing it well. For example, I sit on the board of FATE Foundation, where I give entrepreneurial lecture for the young ones. I have always wanted to inspire the young ones.
Looking at the movie: Queen Of Katwe, the lead character exhibits traits of resilience, doggedness and determination and we see these attributes as something that one can buy into.
If you look keenly at the life of the character and the movie itself, it tells a strong story of resilience, ambition and not allowing any obstacle to stop you from achieving your dream.
One of the teachers confessed after watching the play that the unique thing about the movie is that play captures within two hours, what is being thought in school for two years.
The movie opens our eyes to a lot of success stories that are abound in life.
That is why we want the children to watch this movie so that they can imbibe the values of resilience, good character and so on. For us, our plan is to reach a thousand schools by touching at least one child in each of the schools. If we succeed in doing that, we would have achieved quite a lot.
Few weeks after rolling out, how far have you gone and how many school have participated?
We have recorded over 20 schools and still counting. Every single day, we are using our different platforms in various locations to connect young people so that they can watch the movie. So far, the feedback from them is unbelievable. We have gone back to interact with the kids on their experience and what we get to hear as learning while watching the movie has been quite touching.
We have done 20 schools with about 1,500 kids impacted. As we speak, we are working with different state governments so that we can get their buy-in into it. Presently, we are in talks with Lagos and River state governments by ensuring that public schools students come to watch it even when they cannot afford it. As a matter of fact, we believe such support from government would help subsidise the cost involved in watching the movie.
Aside Project L.E.A.D, what other focused initiatives do you have?
Genesis group has a foundation that has trained thousands of graduates, as we speak, in different disciplines. Every year, we will be doing different things that will be utilising the platforms to motivate the young people in business and entrepreneurship.
Considering the economic situation in the country, can you say the entertainment industry has been fully explored?
Like a lot of different sectors in the economy, it has not been fully explored. There are still lots of virgin territories. For example, in the cinema, we have seven scattered around but there are still opportunities to make it 50 if the population density we have is anything to go by.
Not only that, our Nollywood movies are beginning to get fair presence in the cinema. We are now beginning to enjoy our movie. The best for me is yet to come. I believe there is a future for the industry.