How NAFDAC Officials Set Our Thoughts On Profitable Expansion

At times, officials of the regulatory agency supervising a particular segment of the productive sector may be instrumental in the growth of a business within that industry. It is so with Abba Bond Corporation and Immense Food Limited. The companies were counselled by officials of NAFDAC to expand their factories to enhance economy of scale, they also counselled the companies’ management to look beyond Lagos for their expansion. GOKE OLUWOLE was there when the new factory of the companies was commissioned and a new range of products launched at the Ibafo factory site of the companies. He spoke with Funmilola Aina, the managing director and chief executive officer of the two companies.

Tell us how you started the journey into the world of food and beverage processing before you arrived at where you are now?

My name is Funmilola Aina. I am the MD/CEO of Abba Bond Corporations and Immense Food Ltd., business conglomerate which was the realization of my husband, Mr. Moyo Aina’s brainchild, and a long time dream that was incorporated in 1991 as a registered food and beverage processing establishment with a vision for excellence in all our production line.

Our goal is to be immensely unique in beverages and food production, providing excellent customer services using a well trained and motivated workforce. Though, we started with the production of sachet water (pure water) which was duly approved by NAFDAC in 1999. It was our pure water that was the official table water during the Junior Olympic Games in Lagos. Thereafter, we pioneered and introduced flavour drinks into our production line with three flavours: Blackcurrant, Pine apple, and Orange.

However, on realization that presentation, taste, and correct pricing are the most essentials in beverage and food manufacturing and marketing, we decided to carve a niche for our brand by introducing the then first ever bottle locking nylon packaging in 2004, knowing full well that we had to attract the children who are our main target consumers. The unique taste of our products endeared us to become one of the active players in the sector within a short time that we entered the market.

In 2007, the company researched and developed a unique creamy yoghurt, branded as O’YEZ Yoghurt. This was approved in February 2008 by NAFDAC, which as of today, has gradually become the most sought after yoghurt in the Nigerian market.

What is your company’s corporate social responsibility philosophy?

Our corporate social responsibility is to be fully involved in the development of our immediate locality by touching the lives of the people through our direct impacts like creating employment opportunities for the people around our factory sites. We have been supportive of the welfare of the people through the maintenance of roads adjoining our factory, our company has provided boreholes to some communities around and within Ibafo in Ogun State. We have also been donating exercise books to all the schools within our community here in Ibafo, We have also been donating to some motherless babies homes and orphanages, We have also been paying all taxes as expected despite the multiplications of taxes by different government agencies.

Has it been smooth sailing through all these?

After every dark cloud on our sky, God has always rewarded us with brighter moments; with determination, focus, and believing in God, we were able to conquer some of these challenges while some still linger. The first challenge we had to contend with was this expansion project that led us to Ibafo. We were formerly in Lagos but for the urgent need that NAFDAC officials advised us to look for a new factory site outside our old factory. NAFDAC officials said it will be cheaper for us to go out of Lagos where land is very cheap. At the end of the day, we were able to get this place in Ibafo, Ogun State. We were also faced with the challenges of power or energy supply like every other manufacturer; the cost of fuelling our generating set is really killing the business. Manufacturers are really groaning under the heavy yoke of alternative power supply, lack of infra-structural amenities like good road network and water supply.

We are even the one sinking boreholes for the people of this community, security of lives and property are at the lowest while some government agencies are burden on us with multiple taxation. Because of the welfare of our workers we have to look for a decent hospital that will care for them and their families, but the people here have no access to good public health care. Our children are all registered in private schools as there is no public school around. Getting funds for some of our projects have been another challenge; we now know that when a company is still growing no bank will be interested in it.

How would you describe your points of achievement in your choice of entrepreneurship?

When you talk of achievement, to me, it is just when I am thanking God for the fulfilment of a dream. This is my own understanding of achievement as a servant of God. In fact, I need to tell you, I am by his grace a pastor with the Mountain Of Fire Ministry [MFM] and one of our achievable dreams so far is the completion of our new factory, the endorsement of our brand as it was picked as the official drink during the Junior World Cup in Nigeria some years ago, the acceptability of our products in the market is another mileage in our journey into manufacturing in Nigeria.

As a child of God I still thank God for his grace and to my lovely and adorable husband who is the Chairman of this company and he is also the main financier of the Abba Bond Corporation and Immense Grace, makers of the top range drinks that include the O’YEZ Yoghurt we are launching today. Without sounding immodest, I would also say that the market men and women too are some of our most priced possessions as they are the faces of all our products round the whole corners of Nigeria wherever you see our product being distributed. When we were awarded the Nigerian Finest Flavoured Drink of The Year 2008 Award by the Institute of Direct Marketing of Nigeria at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel & Towers also hallmarked the attainment of a great height in the life of this organization.

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