Alhaji Abayomi Shakirudeen Adigun is veteran shipping, clearing, and forwarding professional, and a key member of the Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce, NACC.
In this interview with our Correspondent, Matthew Asije, Alhaji Adigun talks about a number of issues, including how he got into the business, the benefits for joining NACC as an owner of a young business who desires exposures and international partners, and how to join the association.
He also provides useful tips to young entrepreneurs on how they can succeed in business from his experience in business that has spanned many decades. Read on:
Let’s Meet You Sir
I’m Alhaji Abayomi Shakirudeen Adigun, one of the Vice Presidents of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce; I have been a member of this illustrious organization for the past 25 years.
I am one of the first Nigerians, who went to the United Kingdom to study shipping, clearing-, and forwarding and I graduated in 1971, and in 1974 I returned to Nigeria. I came back at the right time; that was the year they made the indigenization decree, the decree that gives the business of shipping, clearing, and forwarding at the lower cadre to Nigerians to own and practice.
And at the time it was very easy to get jobs in the maritime sector because Nigerians had put their heads together to buy off the businesses of some foreigners who felt that they should no more practice businesses such as ship shady, ship supplies, etc. They sold their businesses to Nigerians.
The first occupation I got after I had worked briefly with the national supply company Wilmot was to work with Biscudit. Biscudit was owned by three illustrious Nigerians and they were looking for a young man to manage the business and that was how I ran into them and they made me the manager to it. Thereafter, I rose from being a manager to becoming the chairman of the company until I resigned in the year 2010.
Due to my passion for business, we joined the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, NACC, as a company and we have been very involved in the activities of the association, and I must say, it is a win-win situation for members of the association, and I must say, it is a win-win situation for members of the association and chamber. As part of its goals, the Chamber organizes trade missions to the United States. Currently. I’m the chairman of the committee for trade mission to the United States of America for this year.
The trade mission provides opportunity for Nigerians to look for business partnership with Americans in the US. It Is a win-win for everyone, and sometimes we also invite Americans in the US. It is a win-win for everyone, and sometimes we also invite Americans to come to Nigeria to do businesses like shipping, clearing, and forwarding, and even importation of American products and marketing them to Nigerians.
Nigerians too can take advantage of AGOA by exporting their own products to the United States. In fact, we are more encouraged to do more exporting so that it will not just be a one way thing. This is one thing I’m very passionate about and I want to encourage Nigerians to take advantages of this opportunity.
So, instead of just exporting our raw cocoa. We can semi process it before exporting it. Our Shea butter, rubber, and timber can semi processed to be more valuable before exporting them. We should grow pass the stage of just exporting raw materials, let us get them to be semi processed materials, let us get them to semi-processed materials before exporting them, that will create more value added to the economy.
Why Did You And Your Company Join The Chamber Particularly?
There was no better place to be when it comes to doing business with professional and people of like mind. By the time I was joining the chamber we were into shipping, Clearing, and forwarding and we used the platform Chamber provided to visit the United State of America.
We did an MOU with an American counterpart to do business and we said to them, if you have any client in Nigeria and you want to deal with them, you can contact us to help you to attend to them for you. We will help you manage the shipment, and if we also have clients that are exporting stuffs to America, you will help us over the there too.
Now you can imagine the kind of value we created for ourselves, our counterparts, and even the Nigerians and Americans that we were dealing with. In the last 10 years, this has been the gospel I have been preaching to everyone, and most especially the young guys that are joining the industry that care to listen to me.
Again, if you want to do business with an American individual or organization, the Chamber can help you to package your profile, product and your presentation, we will help with all the dos and don’ts that will give you a better packaging and advantage. You will be educated about the people you are going to deal with.
We also encourage young people who are just starting out in business and are seeking better business exposure and international relations to join the chambers because this is the best place to achieve this.
What Does It Take To Be A Member Of This Chamber?
To become a member of the Chamber, the very first and major thing is that you must have a business and the business must be registered with the CAC (that is the Corporate Affairs Commission). It could be a one man business, a small medium scale business or a corporate organization, and it could be in any profession as long as you deal with clients, either through product or services.
There are various categories of membership, for categories of membership, for category A+ you need to have a share capital/ annual turnover of N2billion and above, while the registration fee if you are just starting out is N50,000. The annual subscription fee is N200,000. Therefore, the total fee to pay if you are registering as a category A+ member will be N250,000.
The next is category A. You will need to run a company with share capital/annual turnover of 1-2billion; the registration fee if you are just starting out is N40,000; and an annual subscription fee of N150,000. So the total if you are registering as a category. A member will be N190,000.
Category B: For category B your company needs to have a share capital/annual turnover of N500million; the registration fee if you are just starting out in business is N25,000. While the annual subscription fee is N75,000, so the total fee to pay if you are registering as a category C member will be N100,000.
Category D: You also need to run a company of share capital/ annual turnover of N10-N100 million; the registration fee if you are just starting the business is N15,000, and the annual subscription fee is N50,000 bringing the total fee if you are registering to N65,000.
Please note that the money for registration is paid once but you only renew your subscription annually no matter the category you belong. Also, you need a sponsor, and the only person that can sponspor you is an active member of the Chamber. He/she will stand as a surety for you, testifying that he/she knows you can guarantee you.
Benefits Of Being A Member Of The Chamber
The Chamber’s activities and programs include breakfast meetings, workshops, and seminars aimed at equipping and polishing local business persons and entrepreneurs to international standards.
There is also trade missions to the United States of America where member-companies enjoy the unique opportunity of exhibiting their products and services and making useful contacts with their American partners.
The trade mission happens every two years and like I said earlier we are having it again this year and I happen to be the chairman of the committee for this year’s trade mission.
Another activity of the Chamber, which member benefit from is the Nigerian to go to the USA for a business transaction and you cannot wait for the time of the trade mission, you can come to the Chamber will assist you in processing all the trip documentation to ensure a successful trip.
But you must have in mind that it will cost more processing document for one person against processing for 100 people at a time, so you will be paying more if you are travelling alone. But I can assure you that you will get everything done so long you are an active member.
In November of 2002 the Chamber signed a memorandum of understanding with USAID West African Trade Hub (WATH), Accra under which the Chamber hosts the Nigeria Africa growth and opportunity Act (AGOA) Resource Centre, ARC, within its secretariat. The chamber partnered with the WATH/Accra to disseminate information on the benefits derivable from AGOA. It also conducted studies on Agricultural products on behalf of WATH.
Between its inception in 2002 and 2009 when the AGOA Resources Centre, in partnership with the Nigerian Government, moved to more expansive offices within the Nigerian Bank of Industries building, hundreds of Nigerians have utilized the services of the Centre. We remain in close collaboration with the ARC with Chamber’s AGOA specialist continuing to provide high quality advisory services to those of our members who required such services.
As a result of the movement of the ARC to the Bank of Industry premises we were able to actualize a long planned mission of establishing what we tagged SME Learning Centre in August 2010. This Centre focuses on providing technical assistance to our members (and non members) majority of whom belong to small and growing business, SGBs, in such areas as export procedure/documentation and supply chain management.
The chamber takes part in international seminars and exhibitions and has participated fully at several conferences in the Unites States of America and Nigeria on economic development and growth. Distinguished visitors like Mr. Jimmy Carter, former president of the US, Mr. Walter Mondale, former Vice president who has being guests of the Nigerian government at various times has also being hosted by the chamber.
Another program of the Chamber is the young entrepreneurship award tagged “NACC Young Entrepreneurship Award” A brain child of a past president of the Chamber Prince Julius Adelusi –Adeluyi, the award, at that time the first of its kind by a bilateral Chamber of commerce in Nigeria, is meant to encourage young persons in the various professions, vocations, and businesses to strive towards excellence and high ethical standard in business and in general life.
The chamber has a strong advocacy role. While it does not influence legislature directly, it constantly lends its voice and positive direction to relevant legislations. These days, it often partners with Manufacturers Association of Nigerian, (MAN), and Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in making demand for improved business environment.
Numerical growth is not the Chamber’s priority rather it is interested in the quality of members those who understand the objectives and goal of a type bilateral Chamber and thus willing to fully participate in it’s activities.
The chamber has been released with dedicated and committed successive leadership since inception. Their competence, drive and dedication to the cause of the Chamber have been responsible for the immense success of the chamber throughout it’s history.
Multinational corporations like Mobil, Guff Oil (Now Chevron), Texaco, Arthur Anderson (now Accenture), American international Insurance Company (AIICO) and foremost Diaries have played tremendous role in the growth of the chamber.
From inception to date, the Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce has grown into a dynamic organization. It stands as a pillar of the relationship between United States and Nigeria thereby promoting the creation of wealth and prosperity not only to its member but also to the citizens of the two countries. It is indeed a valuable Bridge between the business sectors of Nigeria and United State of America.
Why SHOULD I JOIN THE Nigerian American Chamber OF Commerce (NACC)?
No nation is an island and so is business, if you develop or manage this vital resource, then you need to be a member of the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce. It is a premier international Organization for business Men/Women and it provides its members with the most authoritative business information available from leading sources in the United State of America. The information NACC makes available to its members cover all types of businesses.
Nigerian-America Chamber of Commerce (NACC) is Nigeria’s largest and oldest organization of concerned business Men/Women who desire to develop .and promote business Men/Women who desire to develop and promote business relationship with Americans. NACC has well over three thousand members from around Nigeria. The Kaduna State Chapter of the NACC meets quarterly to discuss current business issues through guest speakers and seminars. During these business meetings, members exchange information, and make business friends, All these can improve the future of the business.
You Advice To Young Folks Out There And Would-Be Entrepreneurs
There is nothing as good ad starting a business small and growing big, and part of what we do for our members is to train and equip them on how to package their businesses; how to write a selling business plan and defending our proposal. It takes commitment, patience, and hard work to succeed because Rome was not built in a day.
You should have honest intention as you meet people that will do business with you, let your integrity speak the loudest and seek to know more about the business you want to do or already doing so that you can be above your mates. If you are committed and hardworking, I can assure you that in no distance time the banks will come looking for you to start banking with them.
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