Business Head for Simba Group of Companies, Nigeria, Mr. Manish Rohtagi, in this interview with Mary Nnah, speaks on how his company has improved the social and economic lives of Nigerians through its activities in various communities. He also reveals the company’s future plans. Excerpts:
What has the working experience been like for you, especially in Nigeria?
I have about 26 years of experience in major automobile around the world including top three manufacturers of motorcycle and tri-cycles in India. Nigeria is a land of great opportunity and great people. The life here is full of energy, with every day bringing on new challenges and surprises. I am very excited about the things we are doing at Simba, firstly to enhance the experience of our customers, but more importantly to enhance the lives of Nigerians. I always wanted to travel new places, meet new people and over and above, I always wanted to extend my support to individuals, community and institutions.
More than achieving business objectives, what has given me immense satisfaction, is growth of people around me, whether they are my bosses, colleagues, reporting officers, channel partners or vendors and that is exactly what I am doing in Nigeria.
How long have you been in Nigeria?
It is about a year now since I have been here and Nigeria is a beautiful country with beautiful people with rich culture. Nigerian people have astonished me with their warm welcome and I think the country has really taken me in. At Simba I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from different ethnicities and I must compliment the way people are proud of their cultural roots and their traditional attires.
Can you tell us more about Simba Group of Companies, especially, your TVS brand? What exactly is your focus as a business enterprise?
Simba Group is a 30-year-old company in Nigeria. We started out precisely in 1988 and have various businesses that contribute to Nigeria’s sustained development. These include Agriculture Solution, Alternate energy, Commercial vehicle sales and service, Textile Clusters, networking and data services. We have been associated with TVS motors for over 10 year and we have been successful in becoming the No 1 tricycle brand in the country. Our focus is our shared belief in customer satisfaction and offering an unparalleled reach for after sales service with a good product.
How has it been doing business in Nigeria compared to your experiences in other countries that you have worked in?
We always look at giving solutions to consumers rather than giving them a product. And when I consider giving solutions to my consumers, dealers and even my employees, I think we get more success. My business experience in Nigeria has been very intriguing and exciting.
Like any other developing economy, there are ups and downs, but as long as the overall trajectory is one of growth, businesses have an opportunity to flourish. I am not saying it’s been easy – it takes investment and a lot of work – but overall we find that we have had a lot of support from the market.
What are the particular needs you have identified in Nigeria and what solution have you provided for them?
One particular need I have observed in Nigeria is generating employment. Employment is a critical requirement for all Nigerians today especially the youth and if you don’t employ them, they look for alternate ways to get quick money. So virtually all of the products and services we deal in provide employment opportunities.
Where our impact is most meaningful is in the employment generation that our TVS vehicles create. First and foremost, there are the riders of the motorcycles and tricycles who earn a daily wage for ferrying passengers to and fro. Then there are our dealers, financers and fleet owners who play critical parts in our value chain and ensure that the vehicles are made available to potential owners and investors. Finally, there are the tens of thousands of mechanics and spare parts dealers who repair and service the vehicles and ensure that they are back ‘on road’ as soon as possible.
Apart from providing jobs for Nigerians, in what other ways has your company contributed to the country?
We currently have many programmess to support the communities in which we operate. Perhaps, we are most proud of our Queen Riders programme, which promotes women’s empowerment and creates a safe ecosystem for women to enter the business of keke, helping them to purchase their vehicles and providing training in both safe driving and security. We also actively engage with the community through our Health Check-up Camps, where our vehicle riders are invited for Simba-sponsored personal health-screenings, which has included Diabetes screening and eye check-ups, while we service their vehicles – for free.
In Maiduguri, our TVS King tricycle has been used as an ambulance in the rural areas where no other vehicle can reach. So in essence, we are reaching out to places where we can impact the lives of Nigerian people.
TVS participated fully in supporting the Super Eagles during the FIFA Wold Cup 2018, what was the inspiration behind that?
Yes! We are extremely proud of this. Football is the great love of this great nation, and something that brings every Nigerian – no matter from which part, faith or background – together. To be selected as the official motorcycle and three-wheeler of the Super Eagles is a great honour, and not only has it enabled us to contribute to the nation’s greatest pastime, but also has enabled us to bring our customers and rider community closer to the action with dedicated fan events during big matches and opportunities to meet with the players.
TVS recently sponsored a dancing competition called “TVS ConfamNaija Dance”, can you tell us what it was all about?
That was incredible. We had recently introduced a unique feature in our TVS King Deluxe keke – an in-built mp3 player. Our rider community love it, and we were honoured to have the very talented artist Small Doctor record a special song for us. Then all of a sudden people started posting videos on their social media profiles dancing to this special track. So we thought why not give a prize to the best dance group – and it all took off from there.
The competition ran for about a month, and culminated in a grand finale in Lagos. To ensure fair-play and true reflection of talent – we brought on board Nigeria’s dance queen Kaffy, musician Small Doctor and BBNaija finalist Alex Unusual to judge the performances. The winners won N1,000,000, with second and third place getting N250,000 and N125,000 respectively.
What are your company’s future plans?
Our future plan is very clear. We want to be part of the great story of Nigeria and we are very confident that Nigeria is going to be one of the leading economies not just in Africa but in the world and we want to be a dominant player in business, not only in the space we are operating in today but various other businesses we plan to venture in.