Ganiyu Ademola Dada: Promoting International Trade in Africa

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Kofa International Company was registered for the sole purpose of promoting US Trade and Investments Abroad whereas International Marketing and Loan Facilitation or Loan Brokerage is the heart of our business. Mr. Ganiyu Ademola Dada, the CEO of the organization is an expert in leveraging financing for EXIM supported businesses between the United States of America and some African countries. Dada started his career as a banker in Nigeria before he travelled to the USA where he obtained a B.Sc in Accounting from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Roosevelt University. He later qualified as an IT-Oracle Applications Consultant, working with Computech Inc, of Detroit, Michigan in the 80’s. The former Chairman of Continental African Chamber of Commerce USA and Nigeria in Diaspora in the Americans who believed that every big African business dies with the owner because they do business with the personalities of the owner and without credit facilities spoke on the Focus of a CEO in this interview with Nnamdi Nwokolo.What informed the setting up of Kofa International?

I left for the US about 40 years ago to develop intellect to be able to develop Africa and in the course of doing business, I discovered that African businesses die with the promoters because they do businesses with the personalities of the owners and without credit facilities.

However, in the USA in particular you have first, second and third generation businesses because the first and second-generation businesses had created credit lines for that businesses. I concluded that we need to have access to low cost capital and we have to create a credit culture to be able to compete favorably and succeed.

What we do is using US technology and fund to develop Africa. We believe in job creation, we help to build capacity and provide global business and financial solutions to African governments and entrepreneurs so that we can create credit worthy African businesses that can attract Foreign Direct Investments into the continent and Nigeria and we have been doing this for many years.

What has been the impact of this support to Nigerian businesses?
We were into general trading but at the dawn of the new millennium, we decided that we‘d be using US Export Credit Agencies to build capacity across Africa and more importantly Nigeria being 20% of the continent. We have been able to support many people. Our mission in addition to providing low cost capital to qualified African government entities and entrepreneurs is to change the African economy from cash based to credit based in order to integrate African businesses to the Western Economy.

Therefore, we want to be exporting western capital, in terms of technology, equipment and finance, to develop Africa. We are working with many US Companies among which is DSC Dredge LLC in USA and have sold many of their dredges ranging in sizes from 10-inch to 24-inch to many companies in Nigeria.

For example, we have worked with local Nigerian Banks, US Exim Bank and US Commercial Banks in USA, to secure multi-million dollar loans for Nigerian companies like Ibile Holdings Ltd and Japaul Plc to purchase DSC Shark and Marlin Classes of dredges.

These dredges feature touch screen PLC controls for maximum efficiency, lowest cost of operation and maximum profits for customers. Many more orders for these modern dredges are pending from Nigerians. In addition to DSC dredges, Kofa represents other manufacturers with products that complement dredges such as sand and gravel (quarry) processing equipment, Mack trucks and other construction equipment from US suppliers.

Using US Government credit programs, we have facilitated the financing of major projects in Nigeria in oil and gas, dredging, construction, and water chemical manufacturing, preservation, and telecommunications sectors. We have to have many credit worthy companies in Nigeria that can attract more low interest loans from abroad to develop Nigeria.

You seem to target only high net worth organisations, what happens to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises? Actually, our target is not the high net worth individuals or organizations only as we also target entrepreneurs who are ready to do the right thing. Well, we have many financial platforms.

Meaning that regardless of what your size and needs are, you always have a financial product to back you. We just came into the market with insurance credit that is as low as ten thousand dollars as we cannot grow the economy using cash only. We intend to expose African entrepreneurs to low cost capital with a single digit interest rate.

The only reason our economy is the hands of western companies living in Africa is because Africa lack access to low cost capital. What we are doing is to create a level of playing ground for everybody to be able to borrow money at the same rate.

Besides Nigerian banks does not give long term credits whereas we give up to 18 years for water treatment plant, up to 7 years for hospital development and five 5 years for general equipment to pay back with single digit interest rate.

In the private sector, we supported the first water chemical plant in West Africa with GE Technology in Kaduna. We also supported ABG telecommunications in Abuja whereas in the dredging industry, we have supported Japaul Plc and AZIKEL group in Bayelsa with DSC Dredges and the list goes on.

What has been the most challenging experience?
There are so many challenges. The qualified users of this money are Nigerian business people with good balance sheets; those who have contract either with governments or with oil and gas companies or anybody who has good banking relationships where Nigerian banks can guarantee them.

The challenge is that African Banks do not want to guarantee anybody and the reason being that they will not guarantee you for a loan at 2% fee when they can charge you 25% for the same risk for the loan. Lack of cooperation from Nigerian banks has been our biggest challenge.

The second challenge is insincerity on the part of African customers. For example, most people when they get the facility they divert the proceeds from the business to something else. Documenting business operation is also a big challenge for most Nigerian entrepreneurs. We have challenges with the banks as well as customers but through education, we take one company at a time.

What can Government do differently to help entrepreneurs to succeed?
Government can do a lot and we have been telling them. For example, if the US government did not provide an enabling environment for people like us to thrive; we will not be where we are, as we have no godfather. There are many programs we have exposed to Nigerian government like that of Small Business Administration (SBA) of USA whereby they can guarantee 90% for small business owners and leave 10% risk for the local banks.

The Nigerian government must find different ways to mitigate risks to the Nigerian Banks so that they can guarantee or support small business owners and help vulnerable unemployed graduates, train them, empower them by guaranteeing loans to them to address the unemployment challenge in the country.

The government must invest directly on Youths and Unemployed Graduates to turn them to Entrepreneurs in thier chosen fields to employ themselves and two or more employees some of which will grow from micro to small and some from small to medium and others from medium to large in future.

Government can help by creating enabling environment for businesses to change our economy from a consumer and distributive economy to a manufacturing and export focused one to be able to create jobs for the graduating students from our colleges and universities. This they can do by creating many job creation programs that can be used by anybody that can meet the requirements. Government can stop borrowing consumption loans but increase the commercial loans to the businesses.

The government at all cost must avoid IMF loans but blocking all the leakages in our Oil & Gas industry, the sole source of our revenue. They can support businesses borrowing from ECAs. Government must create programs that mitigate risks to the local banks both commercial and development banks to give massive loans to the businesses to create wealth and create jobs.

Projections for Kofa International:
Kofa is currently facilitating a large range of services. For example, in EXIM, we have been able to facilitate dredge equipment for oil and gas and used Caterpillar equipment for construction companies as well as oil and gas. We have good record of accomplishment and we have something we can show. Our aim in the next couple of years is to turn African economy from cash based to credit based economy thereby integrating the economy with western economy. We want to see the economy expand by reducing the cost of capital as well as building as many African countries and businesses and integrate them to western economies. We also facilitate Breach Loans for manufacturers for importing raw materials and finished goods.

What is the procedure to access this facility?
Anybody who believes he is qualified can always reach out to our office or go through our website at www.kofainternational.com, tell us what they want to buy from the USA. We are in the business of procurement and finance, so we will find qualified supplier because you have to buy from qualified suppliers too. Kofa International can be reached at info@kofainternational.com. Kofa finances directly and facilitates, so, depending on when we receive the order, we determine which way to go. At the same time, we provide training for organization that buys equipment from us.

We believe in technology transfer whereby you train so many people on the job to facilitate job mobility; for example, when Japaul Plc buys equipment, we ask them to train as many people as possible not just the people that will work for them but people who can take the job elsewhere. This is one of their contributions towards waging war against unemployment in Nigeria and Africa.

What drives you?
Influencing and developing people positively in the driving force and I want Africa to move from abject poverty to affluence. It will interest you to know that we have natural, human, mineral resources and the only thing we lack is finance/capital. Having lived in the US and as a former Chair of Nigeria in Diaspora in the Americans, I believe it is my call to use US technology and funds that are unlimited to develop Nigeria and Africa. How Africa and Nigeria inclusive will wage war against abject poverty through wealth creation from our abundant natural, mineral and human resources is one of the driving forces. Impacting people positively is what gives me life fulfilment.

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