Adebola Adefila is the first of 4 children, born to Prince and Samson Ataiyero. She is married with 2 children. She has an MBA from the University of Kent, UK and a degree in Business Administration from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Prior to joining the family business (Banrut Group), she worked with the Debt Management Office. She is currently the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Banrut Rolls Nig. Ltd, the manufacturing arm of the business with brands well represented in 34 states of the Federation. She is responsible for the day to day running of the factory as well as steering the affairs of the company to enviable heights regarding quality, regulations and standard. She has served in various capacities as Chief Marketing Officer, Group Operations Officer, and General Manager. She has vast knowledge of the Nigerian market.
She is active in various entrepreneurial and business groups, holds a certificate in Entrepreneurial Management (EDC) from Pan African University, Lagos, also an Associate Member of WIMBIZ.
Growing up for me was eventful. I learnt a lot about entrepreneurship before even knowing the meaning of the word. Being born to parents who are entrepreneurs by default helped in shaping me into the lady that I am today. My parents did not differentiate between a male and female child so I grew up knowing nothing can limit me from whatever I choose to do in life.
Banrut Group is a family business into real estate, haulage and manufacturing. The manufacturing arm of the group is the most popular and the youngest arm called Banrut Rolls Nig Ltd, where we produce tissue papers; the popular Vicki tissue, prince toilet roll, Vicki kitchen roll, Vivian serviette and Ruth supreme toilet rolls.
Family Business and non-family business, which is easier?
In a family business you tend to work harder because you are a major stake holder and you carry the responsibility to protect and perpetuate the family name. Building a legacy is the major drive of most family businesses. It’s different from other jobs in the sense that the flat structure of family businesses allows for an open door policy between employees and owners. This less formal structure ensures that feedback sharing and decision making happen with minimal politics and red tape. Transparency is key.
Steering the affairs of the company to enviable heights regarding quality, regulations and standard
Regarding quality, I have zero tolerance to complacency, therefore initiated a continuous proceeds improvement (CPI) strategy which entails constant bench marks, using the best raw materials available, updating machinery and attending international summits on tissue production. We are always striving to outdo our last performance. Regarding regulations, I am a stickler to rules and ensure internally regimented system of work and typify such by example to the staff. For regulatory bodies, I am hands on abiding by the framework guiding our business environment. Our taxes, returns, reports and information are rendered as at when due without fail. On standards, I set reminders and review key performance indicators (KPI) regularly to ensure production standards are maintained and machinery serviced in accordance to international practice. Over time, we have been known for these attributes and have become a toast of the government, regulatory agencies and banks as Banrut serves as a reference point in this regard.
The professional challenge I have faced in my career to date has to be the role I played in ensuring Banrut survived the recent recession. All companies in the country were undoubtedly ill-prepared for the advent and impact of the recession. I had to keep sales level up and cost down while maintaining our standards for product quality. I learnt a great deal from this experience as it was a great challenge and a definite tough time. Personally, I’m a very private person, I love being behind the scene but I’ve had to come out of my shell to make the needed impact.
Pressure being female on the job?
No pressure at all. My work speaks for itself. With a brand representation in 34 states of the federation and potential growth into some West African countries in the nearest future, knowing my onions I believe is already evident.
Why the decision to join a family business?
I have always been involved in the family business as long as I can remember because my parents carried me along early in life so I will say I joined officially 15 years ago.
Manufacturing in Nigeria
On a scale of 1-10, I would rate the manufacturing sector 4/10. The environment, ease of doing business and availability of single digit credits. Research shows that 7 out of 10 start ups or upcoming business liquidate in the first 3 years of existence. Entrepreneurs both in the formal and informal sector drive economies all over the world. The government needs to do more by creating the needed enablers that would let businesses thrive. The electricity and road architecture of the country has to be addressed. Only recently with the advent of recession, foreign exchange challenges compounded to the existing debacle as most manufacturers are yet to cover the deficits associated to the shortage. Credits should be made available at single digits as most companies can’t survive on double digit exposures. Manpower shortage is high in the manufacturing sector as the few experienced hands are not sufficient. Need to expose and train people who will help the sector revolutionise and thoroughly industrialise the economy. Individual on the other hand, should research extensively before embarking on any venture to forestall premature liquidation. To qualify for a loan the individual will fail all the hurdles of the bank. I will advice if they have a good will among family and friends and in addition to their savings seek for a “mercy loan” (without interest) to pay back at a later date as the business picks up.
Share on your knowledge about the Nigerian market and how are you putting it to use
In my extensive exposure to business at an early age and the opportunity of extensive travel and survey around the geo political zones of the country, I have been privilege to connect with various customers at the grassroots across different markets in Nigeria. Fortune is always at the bottom of the pyramid, therefore understanding the antics and peculiarities associated with the people of the different zones helped immensely, which allowed me know what drives their spending, investments and service instincts. This simple but complex approach allowed me to appeal to the sensibilities of each area and getting the desired sales results
Women empowerment is central and key for me especially being one. The generational changes that occur has shown that there is a paradigm shift and women’s place is side by side with men and not in the “other room” alone. I am passionate about empowerment for women as we are mostly wired to take care of everyone. Research shows that 70% of women work and till the farms in Africa to sustain and feed the home. On my own, I mentor young women to help them achieve their goals, to strive and do well in business. I network with women to also learn from those ahead who have achieved and done so much.
Regardless of the circumstance of the Nigerian state, we should all play our part and be diligent with what God has placed in our hands. God planted us here and made us Nigerians for a reason, so Get up! Dress up! and Show up!