Victor Uche Obioma is the Vice Chairman, VICFAUS INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS LIMITED (Division of VIEWS GROUP Co.), He is an International Partner for Nigeria; World Business Angels Investment Forum-WBAF and a Member; Global Start Ups Committee.
In this interview with MSME Africa, he shared tips for MSME Survival amidst the pandemic and beyond.
Let us meet you
My name is Victor Obioma, I sit on the board of View Group as the Vice Chairman and Co-founder, a company that has been in existence since 1989 under the leadership of my father.I lead the arms of Victus Integration Company which provides services like supply of lubricants, machine equipment and vehicle spare parts. My motivation comes from the happiness I derive for our services and the work I do in helping others make a living.
How important is the role of Business development and sales skill for entrepreneur in MSME and how can they imbibe the skills?
Business development is vast and it is the life blood of every business. Customer acquisition and retention is a skill that can be grown, learned and practiced. It is very critical because for any business to strive, such business must make sales, offer a product or have exchanges, however, for exchanges to happen there has to be customer acquisition. The ability to understand the dynamics of the market is also important.
Entrepreneurs can imbibe business development skills by gaining exposure and experience from volunteering/mentorship with deep direct experience in business whether B2B or B2C.
It has been said generally that out of every 5 businesses, only one survives the fifth years. As at 2017, according to data available, there are over 41 million MSMEs in Nigeria, despite the challenges been faced by entrepreneurs, MSMEs contribute close to 50% to the nation’s GDP. Based on your experience, what would be your list of major challenges MSME have to tackle with.
Lack of Collaboration, failure to embrace leverage and lack of deep understanding of business dynamics are major challenges I can easily identify.
We are in environment where people jump on business with little or insufficient knowledge. They hope to have a booming and thriving business without a solid structure and knowledge of business.
Also, the ability to collaborate with others as well as the ability to take calculated risks will make you a better business person. Investment in development of networks/relationship can create a partnership leverage that will keep the pace of business at good speed.
Amidst the pandemic and economic recession, do you have advice for MSMEs on how to navigate the waters at this time and stay afloat?
I am an advocate of lean strategy and that is where I have found my strength. As a business, identify where your excesses are and cut them even. This should apply even after pandemic. Collaborate more, partner more stay as lean as possible. Try to minimize expenses as much as possible.
There have been various intervention programs for MSMEs to help them recover from the negative impacts of COVID-19, how would you assess these interventions from the Government?
We have issues with information management and access and a people who do not believe in Government anymore. All these are challenges which have affected the implementation and the impacts of the intervention programs.
The government is trying but how accessible is the provided fund? This is also caused by apathy from the end of the citizens.
We need to also ask: how many businesses are official in Nigeria? There are not enough formal businesses to access these funds. Registering a company with business name and opening a business account takes nothing, but we are in a country where everyone blames the Government for what they can do. Getting your business registered, keeping good basic records and other conditions are sometimes part of the conditions required for these interventions to be benefited from.
MSMEs are faced with human resources challenges especially pertaining to the commitment and loyalty of employee, what is your take on this?
Role rotation is a strategy I always advocate for. It however has its limitation based on the type of business involved and the skill levels of the employees. It helps to ensure that we won’t be thrown into an unbearable situation to in case of sudden exit of an employee. Understand each of your staff’s strength and try to rotate roles among your staff, with this, everyone has a fair knowledge of everyone’s role.
What would be your parting shot for MSMEs
As a business owner, my advice will be, understand your industry, submit yourself for volunteering, and to mentorship. Collaborate, partner, Leverage, take risks and stay lean. Consistency is key, do not start what you cannot sustain.