Why CWG Plc Remained Afloat During Recession


Emma Okonji

The Chief Executive Officer of CWG Plc, Mr. James Agada has revealed that the company’s decision to shun businesses worth billions of naira that require foreign exchange, helped it to remain buoyant during the economic recession that forced most businesses and organisations to go under.

Agada who narrated the challenges and prospects of CWG Plc in the last 25 years, during the company’s 25th anniversary in Lagos recently, said the company would have gone under during the period of recession, but for the difficult but gainful decision taken by the management of the company to reject all businesses that would make the company to seeking for hard currencies to purchase and import equipment and machines from foreign countries.

According to him, “During the period of recession, we realised that over 30 per cent of its losses was linked to high foreign exchange, because we were busy looking for hard currencies at exorbitant rates, just to service businesses that had to do with the purchase and supply of foreign equipment. So we decided as a company to cutdown on any business that was tied to foreign exchange.”

He added: “Though it was a difficult decision to take, because we lost close to 50 per cent of our businesses as a result of that singular decision taken, but on the long run, the decision paid off because we were no longer running at a loss, and that was when we started counting our profits and we were able to re-bounce CWG Plc back to profitability.”

Giving further details on how the company was revived from its earlier financial losses, Agaga said: “Again we took a second look at our business structure and we had to reduce our operating expenditure (OPEX) by right-sizing and we also had to reduce official travels of management staff. Again we had to restructure and brought in a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO), who understood how best to cut down on operational expenditures.”

So as an organisation, we walked away from businesses we would have accepted to execute because we were not willing to incur financial losses linked to foreign exchange, Agada stressed.
Speaking on how CWG Plc adopted technology innovation to further strengthen its business model, Agada said the best thing CWG did was to deploy technology innovation to make up for the losses incurred when it rejected close to 50 per cent of its businesses that were linked to foreign deals.

“So to make up for the losses, we decided to innovate at various levels, which include our operational model, where we diversified into more of servicing client’s businesses. We also had technology innovation around products and platforms and we started engaging clients on how to grow and improve their businesses,” Agada said, adding that CWG Plc started developing homegrown solutions that address the business needs of people and organisations. He said in the next 25 years, CWG would focus on impacting on customers’ businesses, by identifying what their challenges are and seek new ways of addressing them.

Agada who commended the four founding fathers of CWG Plc, for tolerating the differences of one another in the last 25 years, said, their commitments had kept the company strong since it was founded by Mr. Austin Okere, an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Columbia Business School, in South America, some 25 years ago.

Although CWG was founded on the ideas of Okere, the company has been managed by four technology giants, referred to as the four founding fathers of CWG Plc. They include its Chairman, Mr. Biodun Fawunmi, its Vice Chairman, Mr. Austine Okere, its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. James Agada, and its non-Executive Director, Mr. Philip Obioha.
Okere, in his speech, thanked Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like Dell, software companies like Infosys, as well as Nigerian banks, for partnering CWG in the last 25 years.

He enjoined them to carry the new leadership of CWG, just as they had carried him, during his tenure as Chief Executive Officer of the company.
He said the company would henceforth be called CWG Plc and no longer Computer Warehouse Group, for strategic reasons.

Okere who retired from active service from the company he founded on January 1, 2016, told the audience at the 25th anniversary celebration of CWG Plc that he would be setting up the AUSSO Leadership and Mentorship Academy, to inspire leaders and budding entrepreneurs to become outstanding, so that they too could go forth and set up other CWGs and employ youth and improve the Nigerian society.