Akinwumi Dickson of brand campaign..Com.Ng had a chat with Prince Dapo Adelegan, President and Chairman-in-council of Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce about his business, entrepreneurial
development, showbusiness, Mentorship, among other issues.
Who is Dapo Adelegan?
One Nigerian who has proved that resilience, hardwork and diligence are virtues needed to succeed in business is Dapo Adelegan, the President and Chairman-in-council of Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce. Dapo who also runs Celtron Limited and Benjamin Black Limited was born on April 20,1962 in Lagos and attended Ladi-Lak Institute, Yaba, CMS Grammar School, Lagos before he moved to Ondo State College of Arts and Science, Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State for his A-Levels after which he attended University of Ilorin where he graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in 1987. Dapo has an MBA from University of Lagos also acquired certificates in Business Management from Lagos Business School and some institutions in Spain, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States among others.
A consummate businessman who is a fellow of Institute of Directors, Institute of Direct Marketing, member of Abuja Business Club, Lagos Chamber of Commerce, International Public Relations Association, Metropolitan Club of Lagos, Island Club, Lagos and sits currently as the President and Chairman-In-Council of Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce.
BRAND CAMPAIGN. Com.Ng :Nigerian – British Chamber of Commerce was established in 1977 making it 40 years of existence, what are the main objectives or purposes for the establishment of the body and how has it fared?
DAPO ADELEGAN :When the Nigerian- British Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 1977, it was led by the duo of Nigerian born Late Henry Oloyede Fajemirokun and Harold Thompson, the then Managing Director of British Airways Corporation, the fore- runner of Nigerian Airways. The objective was that a platform should exist for business interaction between Nigerian and British businessmen and overtime, the chamber became a voice for trade relations between the two countries. So in the last 40 years, a critical success factor is the increase in the volume of trade between Britain and Nigeria and a number of Nigerian businesses with corresponding activities in Britain and vice- versa. The Chamber was established to cater for most of the British businesses particularly the multinationals and also to cater for Nigerian members who are interested in doing businesses in the United Kingdom.
On the achievement so far, the Chamber has about 400 members, 150 of whom are SMEs members, while the remaining 250 represent the big corporate players. The first 100 of them are on the Stock Exchange. We are on the cutting edge of promoting and expanding trading opportunities for Nigerian businesses.
Brandcampaign. Com.Ng :There are many Chambers of commerce in the industry, what is your chamber’s unique proposition?
DAPO ADELEGAN :As a bilateral Chamber, we are focused on everything business with the British. We have over 2 million Nigerians in the United Kingdom who are officially residents there and who are probably the second largest after the Americans. So it is imperative for a chamber like ours to provide for them as British and Nigerian people to achieve their aspirations in Nigeria and also to support Nigerian businessmen who are sending products to the economy of Britain from time to time.
Brandcampaign. Com.Ng :It has been observed that most chambers of commerce reel out tough pre-requisites for membership; tell us your criteria for membership.
DAPO ADELEGAN :We have four categories of membership. They are all corporate. We have premium membership, which is strictly by invitation, extended to multinational companies that have British activities with pedigrees. Then we have corporate plus, which is for high field corporate organisations, then we have corporate for small organisations and we have emerging markets which is for small scale entrepreneurs SMEs. We have stringent conditions and prerequisite for membership, because you need to undergo a process of screening so that only genuine business entities with relevant documentation with good corporate governance are allowed to join. For example, if you have a proposal to do business with a company such as Guinness Nigeria, and you attach your proof of membership of Nigerian – British Chamber of Commerce, it becomes a plus. It shows how credible our chamber is and this adds some credibility and value to you because they know that for you to be a member of our chamber, your company must have passed through a number of capacity building programmes, trainings and must have gone through screenings which makes you viable to do business with credible multinational companies.
Brandcampaign. Com.Ng :Can you let us know the values that your chamber have been able to infuse into the Nigerian market as well as the plans to encourage more entrepreneurs to become members?
DAPO ADELEGAN :To the extent that we have membership in business communities at all levels, the impact of those companies on the economy is enormous in companies like Unilever, Cadbury We have hundreds of SMEs that engage in the supply chain, that supply these companies even with vendor services. So the impact is not just about the products and services they offer to the public, but the amount of SMEs development that comes with it in terms of values. We can say that our members particularly the large corporations are in the forefront of employment and also in capacity building for SME development in the country.
Brandcampaign. Com.Ng :In what ways do you think Chambers of Commerce can enhance both individual and national economic empowerment in third world countries?
DAPO ADELEGAN :Let me explain what the government, should do even though I am not in government. I think, the question should be, how the government and chambers of commerce should partner to spur entrepreneurship. I think the government’s first responsibility is to provide first of all the infrastructure like power. Without power, there can’t be entrepreneurial development. Once power is available, it is critical there should be an enabling environment for development. On the issue of taxation, SMEs should be encouraged with tax holidays and tax incentives to allow them to grow. Then there should be mass transportation. Agriculture cannot thrive without transportation. Cash crop –production, which is going to be the largest employers of labour in the country should be fully explored, because of the preponderance of arable land. The values in terms of farming, processing, distribution, export, are all dependent on cheap transportation.
Then, there should be mass housing, but the important thing is that government must make the people the centerpiece of policy formulation. It is these policies that make people use their talent. First, there must be investment on the part of governments.
Whatever the government needs to do, even if it is necessary to tax the rich, or to borrow, it is essential for every government to do the needful. It is when you do things for the people such as mass housing, power, tax holiday, then you will unleash their capacity, and make people feel the sense of commonwealth and inclusion.
Until our government recognizes that it is only when you provide basic amenities and infrastructures that people can have the sense of responsibility to contribute to the growth of the country, When government is ready to empower the people, that they will embark on hard work, be committed, loyal and also respect constituted authority.
Brandcampaign. Com.Ng :You pioneered some very successful business initiatives such as Lekki, Sunsplash Concert, the use of electronic billboards in outdoor advertising industry as well as incubating Made-in-Nigeria exhibition. How did you inculcate this business acumen and how can the younger generation of Nigerians, achieve more?
DAPO ADELEGAN :Let me say that, next year, 2018 will be thirty years of Lekki sunsplash concert; I am under a lot of pleasure to write a memoir. The story still remains about how a young boy made it without any silver spoon, fresh from school; I want to give glory to God. How God has been able to maneuver me into achieving greater things with hard work and passion, amidst challenges. I had the cause to make money from the Lekki sunsplash but I had to make it free for people to be at the concert. The principles that guided the idea called Lekki sunsplash was that I did not do if for money, but because I boasted to my friends that I wanted to stage a concert there, and for seven years, Lekki sunsplash was a block buster.
Five years into it, we discovered Benjamin Black and Company with the idea to establish the first electronic billboard on Allen Avenue. The launch was aired live on Newlines on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) anchored by Frank Olize. Nigerian Breweries was part of the unveiling of the billboard, I was only thirty years old then, an unmarried man and after that came Made- in-Nigeria exhibition. We made a prominent presence at the Heathrow Airport in UK, we have PR Africa, we have our presence in Dubai. I also want to thank God that I am the President and chairman-in-council of Nigerian- British Chamber of Commerce, I am not the most experienced member, nor the oldest, but God used the members to make me the President, though I have been in the chamber for twenty years. I have been a Council member for years and have made impacts, I have been a Vice-President and a Deputy President. The chamber has business moguls who have enough financial muscle to put me aside but I thank God for the grace of God.
God has spurred me, motivated and inspired me. Whatever I needed in life, God has been there to use people to open doors for me.
Brandcampaign. Com.Ng :Tell us the best book ever read by you and your role models in the Nigerian business world.
DAPO ADELEGAN The best book is the Holy Bible, the Yoruba version of the Bible. My role models are numerous but I have the likes of Mr Bola Akingbade of the Nigerian Breweries and MTN Nigeria Fame, Toyin Munis of the Clapperboard television fame, Olumide Eso, my first business partner during Lekki Sunsplash, late Adeniyi – Williams, who remained one of the first people that believed in me, Fola Adeola and Tayo Adeola who believed anything I told them. I have learnt from too many people who have mentored me, God has at every stage of my life given me good people who have mentored me.