Arinze Emenike, Managing Director, Strategic Intelligent Systems Limited (SISL), grew up dreaming of becoming an agric businessman. But as they say, man proposes, God disposes. His path in life first went in a different direction. At Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, he studied Accountancy. Then his work experience took him through financial, transport and manufacturing sectors of the economy. Eventually, he found a way to bring his dream to fruition. Today, he is managing a flourishing agro-business. Emenike, member of Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KACCIMA), and Enugu Coalition of Business and Professional Associations (ECOBPA), tells The Nigerian Xpress’ Chibuzo Ihegboro some of the challenges of running his company.
What is your company all about?
Strategic Intelligent Systems Limited (SISL) is a wholly-owned Nigerian company, duly registered as a Private Limited Company with the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the Corporate Affairs Commission since 2004. The managing director registered the company while was working in Administration Department of Imperial Tropical Resources Limited in Kaduna. However, the company did not begin operations until 2012. The company is engaged in manufacturing, specifically in the production and supply of agricultural and agro-allied products such as palm kernel oil, coconut oil and related oils and sale of agro-based commodities. The company’s headquarters is located in Kaduna; the factory is located in Enugu and branches in Calabar and Onitsha. In carrying out our activities, we conform to strict ethical standards. This way, we achieve the specific needs of our clients.
Besides, we respect the traditions, cultures and religious beliefs of the communities where our factory is located or our services are rendered, and as a result of this, the relationship with our host communities is always very cordial. At Strategic Intelligent Systems Limited, our mission is to become a reputable world-class company that delivers quality goods and services that meet international standards using highly motivated workforce and technologically advanced systems to maintain corporate objectives that impact positively on the lives of the residents in our operating environment.
What were you doing before now?
I worked in various companies across Nigeria. They included Pated Marbles in Victoria Island, Lagos; Imperial Tropical Resources Limited, Kaduna, Mel Endless Company, Kaduna, Silver Freight and Allied Ventures Limited. I was also improving my knowledge based on a broad range of fields of endeavour such as ICT, consultancy and human resources.
What motivated you to found the company?
I was not satisfied with marketing imported products, which was mostly what all the firms where I worked were doing. I am a firm believer in the school of thought that says industrialization is what grows an economy. I am also of the firm opinion that job creation is key to growth in the real sector of the country’s economy. The producer can determine his price, especially if the product meets stipulated international standards. Then, there is the issue of job satisfaction, the feeling that you enjoy what you do. These were partly the motivations that made me decide to go into the production business.
How have you been able to manage the affairs of the company?
By being as truthful and as honest as possible with everyone or entity I do business with. It’s also vital to create and maintain a valuable network of associates. I am also cool-headed, always think things through; never take decisions in a hurry. Another way is by doing right things at the right time, such as paying taxes so we are not harassed by overzealous tax collectors and touts, by not cutting corners, it never pays in the long run. I have also been able to work very hard. Running a production business can very challenging, especially when the business is a start-up. It also pays to be disciplined. I am a disciplined person, and prudent with company resources- human, financial and material. I have also thrived by having a plan and sticking to it and also attending to small details. Failure to adhere to this principle will wreck any business in no time. I am also very proactive, preparing for challenges before they happen. Also, being persistent, never giving up until I overcome all challenges has also helped me a lot.
So far, what are the challenges you contend with?
Our challenges are the same almost every budding entrepreneur in Nigeria faces on a daily basis––fiscal policy inconsistency, SME policy ambiguity at both federal and state levels with particular regard to fund accessibility, excessive and multi-taxation issues, the hoard of agencies that come for one form of tax or the other, even when you have not even made any money and the unavailability of constant power, these are very huge issues.
On the operational level, we have liquidity and cash flow challenges. Bank lending rates are so high that you become a virtual slave. Also, raw material supply issues crop up occasionally.
What drives you generally?
The belief that one can do anything he sets his mind to inspires me a lot. In my case, the dream is to help as many people as I can earn a decent living while contributing my quota to the development of the economy. Again, I have a desire to leave a positive legacy behind. What we do in life echoes in eternity.
What is your advice to youths?
Firstly, know exactly what you want. Let’s be clear, business is not for everyone because there are qualities business persons must have, such as tenacity, commitment, persistence and a never-say-die attitude. If you don’t possess them, you may not succeed in a business environment like ours.
More so, once you have determined the kind of business you want, make a time-based plan and follow it through with determination. Seek advice from those who are in your line of business. Make no mistake, there will be challenges, some even big enough to make you abandon your dreams and aspirations, but the key is never to quit. You may take a break to review your strategies and plans, but remain focused and you will succeed in the final analysis.
The path to greatness is never easy but laced with a lot of hard work, so much that you may not have enough time for your family, social engagements and so on. However, be assured that with God, everything is possible.