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Nigeria: Haven For Entrepreneurial Development



Obiora Obi is the Chief Executive Officer, Design By Sixty Ltd. In this interview with Blessing Bature, he speaks on the business opportunities in Nigeria as a developing nation.

About the Design By Sixty Ltd…

Design By Sixty ltd is a design consultancy business driven by a team of professionals with passion for design, remodeling and creating modern living spaces. Our core business is actually the design and installation of Kitchens for residential properties, we provide the winning formula that offers solutions tailor-made to your specifications .

Our client base spans a wide range of industries, from real estate, multinationals, government departments, financial and non governmental organization as well as individual properties.

We have done projects in Portharcourt, Enugu, Lagos, Katsina, Minna and so on with satisfactory delivery.

What Motivated the Design by Sixty ltd…

I am actually an accountant by profession and training, I have worked in an accounting firm, and a conglomerate that operate in the power sector and from there moved to the main stream construction but i realised that it is better to look at key services and specialise in it, offer this services in a way you will add value to people and become expert in that area rather than trying to cover a large area. I ventured  into interior design when I discovered that  finding glossary products to some people in the country was difficult.

I saw the opportunity, grasped it and i have since been able to offer solutions from Abuja to Katsina, Sokoto  Enugu, Portharcourt down to small villages like Kafanchan and so on and today I am proud to say that I have successfully carved a niche in the interior design business.

I had a simple goal when I started up the business , which was , adopt the UK approach of doing business , often considered  a family business , thereby sustaining generations to generations.

For me, this was the best way to grow a brand, I really think that if there are many family businesses in Nigeria, Nigeria would have been able to solve most of her problems, for instance if you want to start up a business , ask yourself what can you can do in 20 to 30 years and that can be inherited by the next generation. You see, Nigeria  lacks 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation family businesses as seen in UK and other parts of the developed world for example,  PG which is a tea company, Robinson Jam, W. Smith and so on , they are companies started by families and later transfered to their next kins. Whereas in Nigeria we tend to have very hard times transitioning and handing over businesses to the next generations to take over and continue the operations

So most of the foreign products we have like the Mercedes Benz is an old company because it was started up by two partners and they have consistently produced good products and that’s how the company is known and popular.

We have to do away with the mentality where  everybody wants  to be a contractor, we need to have more businesses that will be passed to the next generations so that in the next 100 or 150years the brand  become well established and better appreciated.

How we have impacted on Nigeria’s Economic growth…

Thankfully I will say this is quite a successful business, we have been into  it for over eight year, maintaining the same location). Our workforce  has over ten tears experience of  in the design business.

Though our business is not man power intensive , we have highly skilled workforce and they  are all graduates even down to the installers, we have two locations, one showroom here in Abuja and another in the South East for easy accessibility of our products across the county. We have been able to add value to Nigerian Economy in terms of employment, revenues to government and we have been able to scale through in the last few years primarily because of our involvement in glossary products and we found out that the market is there for our products.

We have plans of expanding our business probably open two new show rooms because we have some new projects at different locations and we will employ more hands to complement our present workforce.

How we rate our success…

Well, i will probably say there are about 4 companies that are doing what we do in the whole of Nigeria so the Market is there.

One thing I will say to those upcoming CEO ‘s is that you must not start up with 500 employee. If you look at Nigeria, we are still a developing country so there are quite a number of businesses people could do and be profitable.

So talking about our success in the business, we are poised to offer good services to our clients, its always about customer services and this is what we are passionate about, we are dedicated to the excellent work, taking pride in our designs, quality works and execution of our projects.

What’s  our Patronage like…

Well we are highly patronised by companies, governments and individuals, you know once you successfully deliver  quality work for one person, he will introduce you to other people and you know quality has a way of speaking for itself, we also advertise our products and services through newspaper, social media  and we also have a platform through which our interior designs are made public.

Major challenges…

Well, the most challenging part of doing business in Nigeria, I will say is power, power affects every manufacturing industries quite heavily, it dries up the capital but then if you are able to streamline production and delivery services you will be more efficient with the power you have, in terms of transportation especially when we have job outside Abuja, we have to negotiate the logistics, we have to make sure that we have a good network of logistic providers to get our products from point A to B successfully.

Your last line…

Well,  I will start by saying that banks or financial iinstitutions in Nigeria are not actually encouraging starters, so you do need to sort for capital, as  a young person with business idea ,  look at the business you want to do, develop your business plans and then look for investors . because if you meet some of them that have money and show your business plans and say this is what I want to do Oga if you leave your money in the Bank they will only give you 8% if you are lucky but if you invest in my business I will give you 15% or 20%  return of your investment and also instead of allowing your money seating idle in the bank, you are actually helping me to start my business and helping me to create jobs for other people to feed their families.

As for fresh graduates , you should come up with fresh and impacting  ideas. Emulate Mark Zuckerberg,  owner of first book, he came out of school  and said  to himself, I am going to set up a company, I have an idea because I am fresh, and he succeeded.

You know it is youths that drive the economy, so bring out new ideas that will add value to life even if you are gainfully employed,  you should think of what to do to add value to other people.

How I Manage Work, Family, Faith and Leisure…

Well, though I am a very busy person who aims high and work hard to  keep my business,  I also have time for my family, I work a lots though to make sure my son goes to a good school, I want to live in the right neighborhood everybody wants to live well, I also crave time for my spiritual life because I believe in God.