The President, Association of Promotional Products Specialists of Nigeria (APPSON), Abiola Sanni, in this interview with Raheem Akingbolu speaks on the measures being put in place to promote professionalism among his members and the need for government to facilitate easy access to funds on liberal terms for the SMEs
The global economy is currently undergoing a challenge, what impact can a sub-sector like yours play to impact the local economy?
The first thing we are doing in this regard is to encourage harmonisation of efforts towards the proliferation of cottage industries within the promotional products specialist sector. In this respect, we provide facilitation for ease of start-up and business conduct. We also encourage local sourcing of materials in line with Government initiatives to encourage organic growth. Increasingly, we are sustaining efforts that would ensure local technology transfer and innovation. Finally, we are looking inward at growing manufacturing opportunities with local content in mind, amongst our members, so as to develop an export market for corporate promotional products.
Government should work on the fluctuating foreign exchange so manufacturing materials can be sourced, procured and used with our local materials as and when required.
Our members pay taxes, Government and Nigerian companies should support APPSON members. As companies patronise APPSON members, we will be contributing more to the public purse, which will benefit the citizens of Nigeria.
Most professional bodies and associations always struggle with quacks, what will you do to ensure your association is not infiltrated and that the interest of your members is protected in the marketplace?
We are working at getting APPSON a chartered status. This will bring in strict adherence to membership registration controls and encouragement of strict peer surveillance within the industry.
Production of promotional products and branding are not new to Nigeria. Why did it take the players in the industry this long to have an umbrella body?
There is an adage that says ‘’ not how long but how well’’. Today, APPSON has come of age because we have been able to integrate all disparate parts and divergent opinions. All stakeholders are on the same page, working for the common goals of the Association. The seeming delay has also helped us to hone our values aspirations. We were not “slow”. Only being deliberate. APPSON has come of age in this regard. Prior to now, divergent opinions and the difficulty in getting stakeholders to be on the same page, as to the objective is the reason for the perceived slow emergence of the Association
As a follow up, can you shed light on what the stakeholders are trying to achieve with APPSON? Or better still what are the objectives of the association?
I spoke about values- and these are several. One, the professional body was established to provide network opportunities for promotional product specialists for strategic alliance. Another reason is to support members with programs as we embrace the best standard practice with regards to social responsibility, environmental sustainability and product quality assurance. The inauguration is also necessary now to drive visibility and reinforce our position nationally and internationally within our industry. In a broader sense, APPSON is also important now to promote and elevate the practice of promotional product services as a profession and encourage training programs for firms and personnel to enable us to establish high professional conduct. Finally, we have come together to accelerate local content development through innovation and local contents’ substitution in the production of promotional products. However, in all these, we want to represent and promote the interest of members.
Are there measures in place to ensure proper regulation and what qualifies one to be a practitioner?
Prospective members shall be required to complete an application form and provide information approved for registration. Firms are required to demonstrate professional competence as an organization concerned primarily with providing strategies and advice on promotional products.
Measures are in place to get APPSON chartered. We do due diligence by requesting from prospective members copies of CAC registration, audited accounts, VAT number, Bank confirmation letter, Company Profile including CVs of key executives, Evidence of work done prior, Annual Subscription as prescribed by the Board etc.
What do you think the government can do to further boost the industry?
Government can help hasten the laws that will get APPSON a chartered status, easy access to funds for our SME’s on liberal terms and patronage from the government for manufacturing, production and supply of corporate gifts and promotional products. It would be good to get such patronage during national celebrations, sporting events and festivals for all corporate promotional branded materials through APPSON’s registered members.
Don’t you think there could be friction between APPSON members and some sectoral bodies in the marketing communications industry that sometimes handle promotional products for their clients?
Not at all. We offer different specialised services; the advertising and other marketing communication professionals are very well known to us and so far, our relationship is well managed and beneficial
With APPSON’s conceptualisation and inauguration, what should Nigerians expect from the industry in the years ahead?
Standardised cost-effective operations amongst promotional products specialist members leading to improved innovative, creative products, and professionally enhanced service delivery.
What are the structures being put in place to promote standards?
We encourage companies in Nigeria to use APPSON registered members because they are professionals and fully vetted before becoming a member of APPSON.