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My Strategies For Managing Multiple Business Chains Effectively,CEO Kobowyse Store Shares

Entreprenuers to me  are the hope of the future;they innovate, invest their time, energy and money to keep their dreams growing and employ individuals at the expense of risks which can either be sucessfully addressed or end up ruining the business. To manage  and keep a business going  successfully involves full concentration and focus of a business owner. With a random chat with entreprenuers who own startups and matured businesses, i got to know that self employment takes more time than a paid job ,but as an entreprenuer one can manage ones time efficiently and at the same time build ones dream.CEOs dedicate task to surbodinates of close ranks to them but till get to review and approve most projects and transactions, with this they still tend to have  lots of files on their tables to treat aside their main duties and responsibilities.

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Its a productive monday, and Temmy Balogun’s Blog brings to you an insightful interview ,we had with a highly knowledgeable and experienced entreprenuer in business management.  I met Abdul-Lateef at an  entrepreneurs programme tagged #MeetTheExecutives, we were grouped together with few others for an exercise and that gave me an opportunity to know a little about him and what he does , his perspective and knowledge about business management got me amazed and i later got to know he has under his command six businesses running across different sectors. I was wowed! because i know what it entails to manage just one business effectively.

Temitope Balogun and CEO KoboWyse Store
CEO KoboWyse Store and Temmy Balogun

Abdul-Lateef is the founder and CEO of Kobowyse Store;the brand name his six busineses fall under. To me he is a ‘superman’ kind of entreprenuer who got broad professional experience and knowledge in managing business across all fields.

For every individual out there with an entreprenuerial mind,  this is a perfect way to start the week! Read on and enjoy!

 

Good to have a vibrant entrepreneur like you here, lets start with a brief biography…..
My name is Abdul-Lateef Ayinde Carew (Jnr). Born on 31st October 1974. I am a Lagosian from Olowogbowo area of Lagos Island, Lagos State. Started my education at Baptist Nursery School, on Broad Street, then proceeded to Saint Georges Boys School, Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos. Had my Secondary education at Methodist Boys High School, Lagos. I hold a B.Sc (Hons) in Political Science from the University of Lagos after a stint in Banking and Finance at the Ordinary National Diploma level of Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos.

I have about 20 years post qualification experience which cuts across Civil Service; Out-door Advertising; Banking; and hand on experiences in Agriculture (crop farming); Bakery; Textiles; Real Estate; And the down stream activities of the Oil and Gas sector of the Nigeria economy. I am an Associate member of the Nigeria Institute of Management. I am the Group Chief Executive Officer for Kobo Wyse Store, aside being a board member of some companies and offer advisory business development to few others. Happily married with kids.

You presently have six businesses in different sectors, tell us about them and
what informed your decision to start each of them…
Micro credit lending: It came about to create a quick fix approach to financial needs of people working in paid employment. The worker simply have no worries when they are cash strapped. They simply keep working and can afford to draw a cheque of their next salary on us. Also, someone in paid employment with assets needs for immediate use will be allowed to have same and might wish to spread payment for same over a period of time.

Our micro credit platform takes away the rigors of bottleneck associated with salary domiciliation as a basis for conventional bank lending to such categories of our working population in Nigeria.

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Agriculture (Crop Farming): There is no doubt that farming will ultimately hold the key to future. Having formally trained at the Farm Service Centre of the Lagos State Government, based on the prospects of holding unto the future, we set up a cultivation of 40 Hectares of land at the Ibaro Dam farm settlement of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority. We got involved practically in maize cultivation. We intend to consolidate on our successes via irrigation activities.

Abdul-Lateef in his farm
Abdul-Lateef in the farm

Bakery: Arguably, bread consumption remains one of the major food that cuts across class, and taste. It remains a staple food whose seasonal alternatives for most homes will be yam. However, giving the over dependence on fast track meals, the demand across the year for bread remains so large that the players have not been able to adequately capture the market. Hence, we set out to further close the gap.

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Kobowyse wrap sample

Textiles: We actually look inward to spending patterns of individuals and cultural relevance to dwell into the sector. A cursory review of societal schemes showed that every weekend from January through to December of any given year is activities filled of social parties where “uniformity” in clothing is usually the norm. Thus, we focus on African Prints mode of textiles and run an outlet for all forms and shades of “Ankara”. We also facilitate the customization of same for political; religious and even branded social events. That way we provide a form of clothing.

Real Estate: Most properties in certain axis of Lagos are regarded as ancestral or better put, family land which if not redeveloped or renovated by a neutral firm as a developer will be balkanized. Thus, with the current phase of our generational shift from extended family and compound family to strictly a Nuclear family orientation, we stepped into the process to redevelop and even renovate properties under operational base of short to medium term lease. That is what in most parlance of business is called BOT (Build; Operate; And Transfer).

Oil and Gas : We currently have 3 retail Channels in our downstream activities. It’s no gain saying that service Stations are still not enough to distribute petroleum products to end users in the public space. Most importantly is realizing the need to instill some measure of confidence for users to truly have the value of a litre for every litre paid for. It’s all about service to the people.

Carew Scree

 

Managing one business successfully is a very hard task that needs total dedication,but you presently manage six simultaneously,what are the strategies you’ve been using to keep them running ever since operations started ?

Business Management is all about process. For each of the business under my command, we have established processes. Cultural values are set and all employees are made to key into it. We offer a very strong reward system for compliance and a very effective sanction process. Each business has a clear mission and vision driving it’s emergence in the service space. Employees are made to understand that rules are made for men to follow and not that men exist for rules. 

 

Risk is inevitable when doing business , bringing six businesses together obviously involve higher risks, which are the frequently occurring risks you witness in running your businesses ? What are the strategies you’ve been using to mitigate address them?

Risk exist and mitigating factors are developed to address them. Each business has its own risk and we don’t shy away from same or just dump it on spirituality. Generally, operating any business in Nigeria is faced with a common one involving taxation. It could be multiple in nature and can truly undermine the real reason for existence in running a business. We strive to ensure a central system to address all as they surface. Also, the human resource for each business portend a higher risk. Getting the right person for the job is one key element. However, trainings and role switch to areas of competence or bias has helped to mitigate such worries.

Do you encourage boosting finance of a different line of business with profits from another when managing multiple businesses ?

We don’t mix up accounts as a standard policy for the group. Also, no form of bail out is allowed nor encouraged. No matter how pressed, every business is made to sort itself out. However, maybe a cross guarantee of sort to lenders are done in the normal cause of business relationship with our bankers. More often than not, they tend to see the success story of a business venture as a tell tale signs that nothing will go wrong when they lend to another arm of our business.

 

With the increasing awareness and use of social media ,what way have you used it to drive your products and services sales?To what extent is branding and customer service important to your businesses?

The use of social media can’t be underrated in brand promotions and driving sales. However, our social media activities stem more on our micro credit lending business enterprise. That’s what our Facebook and Twitter handles drive. Ironically, our sales are pushed more in the lending scheme by direct SMS and email blast to employees of our profiled approved list of employers’ employees. We also opt for segmented branding projects for each subsidiary unit in the chain. Our bakery outlets branding is more of what feel and taste the consumers should expect; while, the micro credit arm branding is tailored to achieve financial intelligence and having a good value for your wages.
The Oil and Gas retail outlets have a push to be recognized as a filling station of 1 litre is what you get, when you pay for 1 litre.
In all, we only get a repeat business or patronage when you deliver on a service request from a customer excellently. We have a tracking devise to measure customer’s satisfaction and also build on future needs of our client.

 

What’s your total staff strength? What are the programmes you have in place to promote staff welfare and personal development? What effect does this have on your business growth?

We run a modest chain that has 35 people in full paid employment. We ensure they are on the PAYE scheme of operating business location and also have them on health scheme of an HMO. We are considering a pension scheme for all cadre by mid year of the current year. All we are scheming is to make even the lowest in the cadre to have a sense of safety with us and deliver more on job expectation. Also, we have a scheme to assist staff as it relates to educational goal. Such approach has made us attract best hands and we hope to soon become an employer of first choice for businesses playing within our niche of the market.

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Abdul-Lateef Carew

 

What have you enjoyed so far as an entrepreneur?

I have enjoyed the privilege of having a dedicated and loyal staff strength as an entrepreneur. I won’t be able to have recorded any success in any of my businesses without the support of the staff. They remain my true hope of building a greater business empire. I am proud of them and always demonstrate that in so many ways. One thing for sure too is our quick disposition to promptly excuse those who don’t key into our vision without having to be sentimental.

 

What are some of the major challenges you have encountered in the businesses so far?

Challenges remain a way of life to test our resolve about our goals. Indeed, the challenges can be overwhelming, however it gets solved usually to the glory of God and benefit of our enterprise.
Will recall a major challenge each for the business unit and how we worked around same.
Micro Lending: A first generation bank disengaged some staff before the next pay fell due and they had obligations to us. Infact, we had close to 30% of our balance sheet on the disengaged staff and it became a nightmare for my team as all we had to fall back on was post dated instruments which were issued against the expected pay. We had to rephase repayment for another 3 months for each and every affected clients with focus on the PFA entitlement that fell due. That further shape our operations to use of obligor limits and we pulled through without any loss.
 
Agriculture: The greatest challenge we face here was the activities of the Fulani herdsmen as it relates to crop destruction. While, the impact was much on the other farmers with common boundaries, we had to harvest ahead of due dates to cut our losses and shrink profit margin on the venture.
 
Bakery: The greatest challenge here had to do with tax men. They swoop on the location on anticipated profits and even delivery channels often gets disrupted by law enforcers of LASTMA; FRSC; Police; VIO among others. We needed to ultimately have a liaison officer for each of the enforcers to pull through a hitch free delivery system.
 
Textiles:  sales persons often add up cost to customers as a way to make out of book profits. However, with deployment of mystery shoppers, such activities had been curtailed. Also, outright dismissal without pay as sanction for anyone caught instill some measure of discipline among staff.
 
Real Estate: The challenge here ranges from “land grabbers” to regulatory authorities. You just have to settle no matter the professionalism you deploy to the work at hand. The grace we currently deploy is to ensure all issues are sorted at conception of a project work. That way, we run through projects on budget without hitch unlike what we used to have.
 
Oil and Gas : It has always turned out with different faces of challenges. I recall a period when one of my outlets was setup with a vandalized products. Products was requested and bought at a deport price but was substituted along the way with one from a vandalized operations. It took a very bold step of walking up to a serving DIG to state the facts of the matter for a solution to be worked out. That almost shook the foundation of my dealings in the downstream sector as even those who are revered in the society all set out to extort and even did extort till we made a case before the DIG who directed a discreet investigation of the matter and we were exonerated without personally paying a dime. Indeed, business losses occurred and station assets were lost, we ultimately came out of it wiser and have a dual control check on any products being supplied to our stations.

 

What keeps you going despite this challenges? What are your business ethics?

I have a personal philosophy that does not make me lose focus on any goal I set out despite any challenges I encounter, there is no food for a lazy man. Also, by virtue of my missionary schooling orientation from my nursery education to secondary school level, I picked the biblical teachings of any man that is diligent in his works will stand before kings and not before obscure men. Thus, hate me or like me, the goal must be met.

 

What would you say is your biggest achievement since you started out?

The greatest achievement I have recorded since I started out has been having a wonderful team to run each and every business venture with. Ability to pull an excellent human resource team together for each enterprise is key as that has made me have no failed venture. Even when we opt to suspend operations during herdsmen crises, the team was fused into the bakery project without hitch.

 

What are your future plans for the businesses? Where do you see your businesses in another 5 years? Do you intend venturing into more?

Each and every of the business is run on a business plan of short and medium term goal. I am confident that given the process model, things can only get better. Our plans verily put us ahead of most industry happenings and we have way out scenarios in place for any shocker that is associated with a developing economy like Nigeria. We also have plans to consolidate on value chains of some of our businesses and that might entails bringing on board new acquisition lines to complement our brand. For example, e-commerce project is just around the corner of our latest addition. In 5 years, we hope to be trusted brand in any sector we play in and we are determined to achieve that against any odd.
As an entrepreneur the feeling staff get when approaching the end of the month is different from yours, kindly describe your random feeling when close to that period of the month?

After the successful entry into the entrepreneur world, our process has ensured a fixed date salary payment from the first month of the year to the last month. Staff are advised of pay day and date in January and we keep fate with it. As an Entrepreneur, my operational model is weekly revision of activities and in some chains daily. We don’t await a month end to fix any shortfall in achieving targets. Staff deliverables to enable us meet up periodic goals are measured on the go. The only moments I have a feel for anything going wrong is when I am not engaged on a task for any of my business unit.

 

Do you welcome investors? Any mentor (s)?

My doors are open for partnership. I have a couple of “Angel investors” on the micro credit lending business unit. It is all about giving returns that exceed expectations. I am also quick to say NO when the funds will become excess to the unit.
 
My late Dad remains not only my mentor, but he is my model. Most of my business decisions were drawn from his teachings. Operational issues are often sorted with ideas on what he would have asked of me to do. May his soul continue to rest in peace. I also read up business case studies of a wide range of business schools to understand effect and causes of actions.

 

For those who are interested in operating more than one line of business, what candid advice would you give?
My honest advice to anyone desiring to operate more than one business at a go is to ensure you have a process that is not easily subjected to waivers without grave consequences as sanctions for breach. Also, you must have a sound knowledge of how to delegate authority without delegating responsibilities.

You must be seen as knowing it all even when your employees will always bring the various options to the table. Information is key to running multiple businesses. You must have access to every minute details of what is happening to your businesses without necessarily encouraging report line jumping.

 

Words to inspire aspiring youths with entrepreneurship zeal…

Entrepreneurship is the game changer for the future. Any wise fellow will key into the dream of being the employer rather than an employee. Entering a business line is as easy as trying to lay a bed. The product you see will be as well as you have taken your time to lay the bed. Never take it that you must get all you need to start. Infact, start small and grow with the tide. You never know how well you can make it till you have started.
It is also instructive to note that being educated is one thing, and being a successful entrepreneur is another learning curve on its own. They can only complement each other.
 
Start with what you have a passion for and make money while you catch your fun! 


Thanks for sharing with us Mr Abdul-Lateef.

Contact Abdul-Lateef Ayinde Carew (Jnr) ;

kobowyse@gmail.com

 

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8 comments

  1. One-stop entrepreneur! More power and wisdom from above to direct and guide you

  2. Wao! What a wonder to behold. Truly inspiring and an eye opener. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow,this is great ,it is something to tap into,so inspiring and motivating. Well done.

  4. Kudos, industrialism working in place. Really envy your sense of handling multiple chain of businesses.Keep it up

  5. You are worth emulating. God will continue to give you the wisdom to manage all.

  6. Good work. Just that I won’t appraise my mentor in a public space. One thing I will say is you have been modest in sharing the strategies I have learnt from you. Won’t forget the China’s strategy of 7S.

  7. Sola I have no doubts in my mind that you shall surely be a successful businessman. We’ve worked together in the past, I know your worths, intelligent and above all your exceptional skills of approaching issues is not in doubt. I wish God guardinance.

  8. An inspiring piece I almost ignored. Process you seems to advocate and will surely explore same too. Thanks for sharing.