#MINEC’s Idea for #Entrepreneurs and Made in Nigeria Vission

MINEC 2017

By Lawrence Ehilegbu

Minec stands for ‘Made In Nigeria Entrepreneurship Conference’.

It is not a made in Nigeria exhibition of goods, it is a platform for empowering the entrepreneurs who make goods in Nigeria to be able to compete on the global platform.

Note: MINEC was officially unveiled last year 2016 – (You can read the full report here)

What made us think about this is, you can see from the fall in oil revenues the Nigerian government, the parastatals and the public have realized that, before oil there was Nigeria and that there were so many non-oil revenue generating sectors of the industry and the economy that kept the country buoyant.

  • We were known for groundnut pyramid
  • We were known for cocoa export
  • We were known for palm oil
  • We were known for palm kernel oil, these business activities guaranteed over 65% of our GDP. 
  • In fact, we were known as a place that produces lots of cassava.
  • If you look at it today, you would find that Nigeria is actually world’s number one cassava producer and probably the least cassava exporter in the world. 

Most of what we produce, we consume. So we don’t make enough for export. Beyond that, you look at Nigeria – I remember when I was growing up, when you hear made in china (when people were laughing at the 3rd world attempt to create competitive products and brands in the world), you’ll hear made in Aba.

From made in china to made in Aba. We started hearing made in Thailand. But today, made in China has achieved global acceptance, made in Thailand has achieved global acceptance. In fact the ones we didn’t hear about, made in Korea has achieved global competence, but made in Aba has declined.

Made in Aba has been deliberately unsupported. In this new dispensation where we have the second chance of creating the ability to stand on the world’s stage and make money with our entrepreneurial zeal and creativity, we are saying that technical competence that the private sector collaboration required for us to make a headway and get not just our government, but global economy to take Aba and made in Nigeria goods seriously requires private sector galvanization; requires private sector collaboration, requires capacity building within the private sector.

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And so, that’s why we said lets start a conference that will bring these people together. We’ve gone further to set up a Centre for the development of indigenous and made in Nigeria brands in Aba. Such that after the conference – the conference is not even the beginning of what we need to do to get this Aba economy moving. I want to give you a simple illustration of how powerful a quality brand can be. I used to be marketing director for Africa at Glaxosmith plant and I had the responsibility for Lucozade and Ribena.

Before I joined, I used to be marketing director for Nokia West Africa. Lucozade was made by Glaxosmith plant and they’ve been trying to sell the brand to any other company because they want to focus on recommended medicine. People used to take Lucozade when they want  to recover from sickness. It is not a drug. So they now want to focus on drugs and for five years they tried to sell that brand but they couldn’t. so they started looking for brand experts. That’s how they.

There are funds for fabricators of machine, funds for agriculture, funds for fashion  industry, funds for even businesses run by women that are  done not just by Nigerian government, but by bank of industry, by UNIDO, by so many world bodies but our people from here don’t know about it. we have the NEPC office here in Aba, we have the ACCIMA here in Aba.

There is no reason why with the collaboration of these two government arms, we shouldn’t be able to have made in  Aba competing side by side with made in China, or with made in anywhere else in the world. It doesn’t fall from the sky. There is a procedure, there is a method, there is an expertise that is required. And one of the things we want to do is also to be able to train our young people so they that they can aspire to be experts in those areas. So that when you need people in branding, you need those with experience in route to market design, you need people being  able to do online you get them.

Online is what I don’t think many of us in Aba are privy to. I am on the governing council of 3 universities – Babcock University, Caleb University and Best American Health University in USA, California. What I have found out is that most of our young people when they graduate and want to become entrepreneurs, only those who know what’s happening that understand they don’t have to look for work. They can create something and come out of it.

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So what we are trying to do with MINEC is to gather the consciousness of enterprising entrepreneurial business owners, designers, inventors, people who make accessories, people who make machines. We tell them that it is possible. Some, we don’t need to go anywhere, their office is here. If you want to export, NEPC office is here, if you want to understand commerce, ACCIMA is here.

Let me burst your balloon; we are not talking about getting government funding, we are not talking about waiting for government to do anything. If the private sector does not show their power, nobody will recognize them. We need to put together our strength to show the government our seriousness.

Another sad thing is that out of all the businesses I have known in my short life on earth, there is no African business that has succeeded 50yrs. All the companies that are 50yrs, 100yrs are all foreign companies. I have worked in 8 multinationals and I know what it takes to run a sustainable organization. What we are trying to do is to raise the consciousness.

Don’t miss this train. Foreigners are coming into this country, they are taking charge of the things we refused to do. Foreigners are leading in supermarkets, the highest exporters of cashew, ginger are not Nigerians. But they are exporting Nigerian products. Because of the simple thing that they learnt that collaboration is what builds strength. We are not pulling our resources together, we are all going as a stick of broom.

Let’s look at medicals and pharmaceuticals for instance; we have Nigerians who make herbals, we have Nigerians who can make drugs. Even those who are pharmacists, they don’t make products today that can compete in UK, London, Ghana. They don’t have the cross border quality, strength to stand global competition. From a study conducted on entrepreneurs, a cluster of Aba has the highest concentration of entrepreneurs than anywhere else in Nigeria – small and medium size.

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Large scale industries are abundant in places like Lagos, Ibadan, Port-Harcourt and probably some sections in Kano. But small scale, micro and medium enterprise, the density per thousand is highest in the southeast. That’s why we are saying let’s use the 80/20 rule, go to the 20% of Nigeria, where you have the highest entrepreneurs, let’s build the capacity; let’s build the collaboration, let’s raise awareness that will make made in Nigeria products, made in Aba products to be able to compete globally.

That’s why we are saying, if you collaborate, and we are able to draw the resources together, we will be able to overcome the problems that come with you competing as an individual. There are so many things that we could do and win together. You can get the world bodies like UNIDO, Africa, Agriculture development fund. There are so many! I can’t just list them here. There is the YES project, a youth empowerment project by the federal government.

Anybody who is not yet up to 40yrs can access that fund. Do you have a business idea? do you know how it can generate money? Do you have the right documentation? Does it have a bankable business plan? Does it have a revenue model? Is it sustainable? What is the profitability? What is the long term sustainability plan?

These things are essential. It’s just like a human being walking around without blood in him, you are going to faint. You are not going to sustain yourself for a long.

This program will empower you to do a lot more, and teaches you the right way to excel.

Join us!
For those residing in South west region, precisely Lagos State, who wishes to join us in the annual Made In Nigeria Entrepreneurship Conference (MINEC).

Date: 22nd June 2017.

Those in Aba, Abia State, South-East region should meet us in May – Venue will be revealed via registration link.

Click here for the registration link: Minec.org.ng

Meanwhile, check out our last year event photos and turnout.


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