Managing Director of Procter and Gamble Nigeria, George Nassar, in this interview with Raheem Akingbolu, speaks on the opportunities in the Nigerian market and the commitment of the multinational to meet the needs of consumers in the country and Africa. Excerpts:
The recent inauguration of a new factory by Procter & Gamble was one investment that coincided with the trying period of the Nigeria nation, why did the organisation invest despite the economic hardship the country is facing at the moment?
Far above any reason, our desire is to meet the needs of our consumers in Nigeria and in Africa. Also, we are confident that the investment will support the government’s backward integration agenda and will create new jobs and engage in business with hundreds of additional MSMEs.
P&G is recognised as the number 1 multinational FMCG company that is touching and improving lives. We treat consumers with utmost importance because the consumer is at the center of what we do at P&G. The company has spent about $330m between 2014 and now.
What are the human capital development opportunities that this line would bring for Nigerians?
With this new investment, P&G would be creating more direct and indirect employment opportunities. The investment would also contribute to the creation of hundreds of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who would be a part of the supply chain of the product.
Some of the opportunities for local employee development include local and international trainings and there would also be opportunities for on-the-job coaching.
Today, P&G employs about 5000 people directly and indirectly with Nigerians making up over 98% of our managers locally and some on international assignments.
The new factory was a new line for the company’s Always brand; can you please shed more light on this investment?
The Always Ultra manufacturing line is a state of the art production facility which was commissioned by the acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. He also had an opportunity to go on a facility tour of the plant where we showcased various segments of the plant including our Greenfield Pampers diapers production line as well as the products we manufacture locally.
The plant is another way in which we are expanding our footprint in the country. It is our way of showing how committed we are to making Nigeria the production hub of West Africa. This facility will support our drive to continuously make the products available to girls and women.
When did P&G start the production of Always in Nigeria?
Always is a success story in Nigeria. The local production started from our Ibadan plant in 1993 and our continued investments and introduction of innovative technology is a resounding testament of our commitment to Nigerian girls and women.
We have continued to invest in local production and expansion leading up to the launch of our multi-million dollar state-of-the-Art manufacturing plant in Ogun State, Nigeria.
What is the difference between the products of the old manufacturing line and the new one?
We are upgrading our production lines for backward integration and introducing the most advanced sanitary pad technology to Nigeria through the extension of our FEMCARE line.
Our innovation is based on extensive research to tap into insights from Nigerian ladies. The best of global technology is then applied to develop innovative products that address their needs. This commitment to consumer-driven innovation has made Always the best-selling sanitary pad brand in the world.
P&G appears to specifically target girls and women, why is this so?
We believe that a gender-equal world is a better world for all. We believe in a world where everyone sees equal; a world free from gender bias and there is equal representation, a world where the voices of women and men are heard equally.
Through our understanding of women and girls, we are leveraging our insights to uncover gender bias and taking actions to spark conversations and set new expectations that motivate change. We remove gender-biased barriers by educating girls and creating economic opportunities for women through our programs and public policy advocacy efforts.
Some of our efforts in Nigeria include our P&G Always partnership with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to educate 50,000 Girls and Women on Information Communications Technology (ICTs) in Bauchi State; this is the second phase of the initiative. The first phase commenced in 2014, and over 60,000 girls were trained in literacy and numeracy. A total of 110,000 girls would be trained in both phases.
Recently, select Women Owned Business Entrepreneurs (WBEs) were trained in Ibadan, Oyo State. The programme is designed to improve the entrepreneurial potentials of women and expand the supplier development programmes through connections and trainings. This was done in partnership with WeConnect International.
We, also, leverage on our strong voice in advertising and media to tackle gender bias by changing mindsets and creating new expectations through our #WeSeeEqual campaign. We would keep having the interest of girls and women at heart because their contribution to the economy is enormous and we want a world where Gender Parity is attained.
What is the view of the company to her consumers across the globe?
The consumer is at the heart of everything we do at P&G and is the key to all decisions we make in a consistent and deliberate way. We think about the consumer daily and we create products that will improve the quality of their lives. Just like every other country where P&G operates, we offer the Nigerian consumers the best no matter their location while our understanding of the consumer has been helpful in maintaining our standards over the years.