In 2011 the Federal Government, seeing the rising spate of unemployed youth in the country, launched the YouWin initiative. YouWin, which stands for Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria, is a program aimed at providing financial and managerial assistance to young Nigerians who are willing to start ventures which, particularly, have the potential of creating employment and also increasing the nation’s gross domestic product. In its four years of existence, the program has featured three different seasons (fourth season is on currently) with at least three thousand young Nigerians being awarded millions of Naira to pursue their business career.
This category is therefore dedicated to tracking some of the winners of the much coveted grant, to inquire the challenges they encountered before they won the grant and most importantly, how they have been able to make use of the fund.
Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My Name is Oluwaseyi Akinde I am from Ogun state in Nigeria the 1st child of three children, I am 31 years old, am an entrepreneur and also an industrialist into manufacturing of Food and beverages. Mr. Oluwa-seyi Akeeb Akinde: is an Entrepreneur and one of Nigeria’s best and dynamic sales man / Marketing Guru, A brand strategist with a huge industry experience spanning over 9 years of real-world corporate experience in sales and marketing ,Strategy Development, Business Development, Brand managements. Seyi represent a new breed of business think tank of a new generation in Nigeria
Tell us a little about what you do?
I run a Manufacturing Company as the MD/CEO called AFFORDABLE STARCH PRODUCTION COMPANY as the Chief EXECUTIVE Officer ,we are into manufacturing of world class Quality FMCG Products that is proudly Nigeria our brand name is called ‘’Affordable ROYAL‘’ bust most called ‘’ROYAL’’ our products range includes ROYAL CUSTARD POWDER, Highly fortified with vitamins packaged into 500kg and 2kg bucket, ROYAL GRANULATED SUGAR 50G, 500G, 1KG, ROYAL MULTIPUPOSE SOAP 150G.
Both Foods and Beverages and cosmetics we intend to lunch our ROYAL Detergent soon we are also an ago allied production company with a new different range of premium quality products designed to meet the needs of our customers and Nigerians in generals .Affordable Starch was registered in 2011 by CAC in Nigeria we also investing are currently diversifying to Agriculture value chine by adding value into processing of Cassava into Quality HQCF, HQCS we are currently building a 5 tones output cassava processing plant at Ilaro, Ogun state.
Also currently also works as Managing Director TSS Marketing Company Ltd ,Lagos, TSS is a world class Marketing Consulting Company that offers strategic marketing intelligence and build strategy for new and existing brands, in the area of Marketing & Sales, Process Design, Marketing Consulting, Direct M &S , Brand Management Solution, Online Advertising Solution, Mobile Marketing Solution, Branding & Marketing Communication, Sales promotions Solution for new and existing brands product & services in Nigeria and beyond.
You are one of the winners of the federal government’s YouWin grant, how has the grant influenced your business? Compare your business; before the grant and now.
Pro to 2011 when I won the YouWin 1 Grant powered by the FGN, World Bank, DFID I was running a marketing company called TSS Marketing Ltd with about 4 staffs where we do most of helping people develop products, and market their products while we earn commission it wasn’t that easy different challenges we had as an SME but we were so determine to success I had fantastic guys who worked with me.
I had written a business plan for diversification into Manufacturing and Agriculture as a result of my experience in product development and marketing ,but when I had no fund to start or run the business I kept pounding on it every day, After winning YOUWIN Grant it gave me the startup cost I needed to start the Business I was able to get a license, Buy Technology, Lease a facility, Buy Machinery, a working Capital to further the business today we have been able to roll our three of our 6 products line ROYAL Custard Powder packaged in 500g and 2kg, ROYAL Granulated Sugar packaged in 50G, Royal Multipurpose Tablet Soap 150g.
We are currently in the market in Ogun and Lagos and rapidly expanding our market to Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Abuja, Kano, Benin and production capacity today we Employ 8 full time Staffs and 5 contract staffs. Winning the YOUWIN Grant helps to kick start my dreams it’s been a transforming life experience because it come with Training and business Support on how to succeed as an entrepreneur in Nigeria YOUWIN is a National Transformation and a huge solution to Job creation and address Unemployment and I say a Big Thank you to President of Nigerian Goodluck Jonathan (CCOFR) for giving hope to young and innovative Young Nigerians via YOUWIN. Which I encourage every young Bright Nigerian youth to be part of by applying online www.youwin.org.ng
How much did you win?
10 million Naira.
Not everyone who got the grant turned out successful, what are the qualities or factors that has helped you?
Adhering to corporate governance and proper accounting and records keeping helped me, we also plan and kept on planning and fine turning the business plan to meet the changing realities in the Nigerian market space. Part what helped us to be succeed was that we stayed focus on the goal at hand, I worked with expect in the manufacturing industry and leaned all I needed to lean I was not in a hurry to make money but to get the foundation rite , we stick to the rules of YouWin.
I kept my head up by prayer to God, by working as if the money was a loan that needed to be paid back when you keep that kind of mind set you won’t be extravagant or spend money on what less important, I had Men-tors I worked with them, I made sure we keep good accounting records, never compromise on quality, out packaging was quality and attractive. I also believe in delayed gratification. Finally it was the grace of God.
When you won the grant and the money was being disbursed to you, what were some of the challenges that you faced?
One of my major challenge then was getting NAFDAC Reg it took up to 1 year, also the Market acceptance of New Products it took some times before the market accepted us .the nature of the Nigerian FMCG Market is very dynamic market they want to see you over time , test your quality and see if you are here to stay before any one will put dawn their money to buy your new product , but thank God we had the patience and quality to storm the market.
Have you been able to employ other young people? If Yes, how many?
Since I won YouWin in 2012, Affordable Starch Production Company have employed 15 people which 70% of them are young people and that the idea also our industry is a very viable industry that has more capacity to create jobs in our community with more investment we will be able to do more.
If you were in the position to make changes to the entire YouWin scheme, what changes would you make?
One very important thing I will change about the scheme will be mentorship program I will mandate the 1 year mentorship program for all the awardee not optional because a lot of awardee did not follow up with their mentor they did not follow the mentorship program so they had no place to go when they had problems with their business. Which mentors could have helped
Give out more money to manufacturing business who are still in business after 2 years because its quite though in manufacturing you have to be strong and a continuous investment is needed to expand the market base so more money should be given to Manufacturer
The program has commenced once again, what advice would you give to young people who intend to apply for the grant?
My advice to young applying for YouWin 4 is as follows; Firstly you must put things into the hand of God by praying about it before filling the application remember you are not the only one but Grace has a long way to go in all these.
Do research before filling submitting your application, to find out the real cost of setting up your kind of business at a capacity that guarantee profit. Chose a business you have passion for something you can do with-out being paid and still have fun while doing the job. You must show in your write up that you have experience in the business and you understand the industry write your years of experience in your plan and for New business you must show that for more training before the disbursement of funds to you when you win.
Get you Financial angle right this is one of the most important section that the Business expects looks at your figures must be correct ,by finding out the price of everything you will need to set up the business , location ,rent, cost of ma-chine, training , salaries, equipment, profit potential , growth plan and total that u need to start the business. You must be chose your word because you don’t have luxury to write too much words. Locate your business close to where your raw material is closer to reduce cost.
Finally, what are your future plans for your business?
My plans are huge moving forward one is to make our Brand name ROYAL brand of product an house hold name in all homes across Nigeria I also want to expand our production capacity to produce 10 tons of ROYAL Custard on a daily bases this mean a yearly production capacity of 3000 tones, where by expanding our supply chain across south west, North, South South, South East Nigeria by increasing out working capital, Buy new technology, mass marketing and implementing Advertising /activation plan for all product across the chain line. Retraining of our key personnel and adherence to SOP and global best practice. we are also committed to constantly increase the quality of our product to meet the changing need of our customers through innovation by fortification of our product with more Vitamins and Mineral to support the body daily need
To also start construction of our CASSAVA Processing plant that will produce HQCF High Quality Cassava Flour, HQCS High Quality Cassava Starch, Garri Flour as a major raw material for Manufactures of Toothpaste, Pharmaceutical, paper with a daily capacity to 30 tones fresh root into output 5 tones daily output at our permanent site at Ilaro, Ogun state after the federal poly road at Olirulakan, Ilaro the project is estimated to cost about 30 million Naira with a high ROI.