‘Nigeria needs inventors to drive economic growth’
By Wale Akinola
Federal Government, two months ago, signed a patent for the Business Manager , a resource for entrepreneurs which comes in hard and soft (embedded in BM laptops) copies. In this interview, Chief Executive Officer of Domino Information Company, inventors of the Business Manager, Mr. Uzo Nduka, speaks on the circumstances that necessitated the invention, as well as the need for government to engender economic growth by encouraging entrepreneurs.
What actually gave rise to this invention, the Business Manager resource tool kits?
I don’t know any company or individual in Nigeria that has taken out up to 100 patents in the space of five years. But we will do it. We want to take out 100 patents in five years. Thomas Edison of the US in his lifetime took out over 1,000 patents. Edison was the man that invented electric bulb.
Edison is the third most prolific inventor in history holding over 1,063 US patents in his name as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication.
If one human being had over 1,000 patents in his name, why can’t a corporate entity generate 100 in five years? That is the barrier that I want to break in Nigeria. Nigerian businesses need to stop copying. They need to create.
I am one of the strange human beings you can find.
Why can’t a Nigerian company create what the world needs? Why do we always have to play the second fiddle? Nigerians in the US are the best brain surgeons and engineers you can find. Why can’t Nigerians do it in Nigeria?
In my own case, I am a Nigerian born, trained, raised human being. I have not been outside Nigeria in my life for any time longer than two months, not even for studies. All the studies I have done outside Nigeria, in Costa Rica, in Germany, in the UK and elsewhere, have always been less than two months at a stretch.
If you don’t operate in the spirit of innovation you will soon become obsolete and we believe that the way to deal with the pressure of competing today is to offer externacy. Business Manager provides the resources for an entrepreneur of the medium and small scale enterprises.
Our focus is to create one resource for an entrepreneur in any sector as long as it is a small and medium-scale business and used to manage their operation/activities on a day to day basis, on week to week basis, in a way that guarantees, success, in a way that reduces/minimizes the chances of failure. All over the world, between 6 to 8 businesses fail between 1 to 3 years.
The reason they fail is that the entrepreneurs themselves do not pay attention to the basic management function they need to perform.
They put all their attention on their goods and services and pay very little attention to management functions that guarantee continuous delivery of product/services at the same quality all the time.
Every company that is at the cutting-edge (that is leading) in the world today can guarantee you that each time you buy the same product, the quality is not compromised; this is nothing but a question of the management function behind it.
You once said the failure of an entrepreneur is the failure of the entire country. What do you mean?
What I mean in this statement which I made about a year ago is that; imagine where the world would be or how many jobs will not exist today if Bill Gates did not succeed as an entrepreneur or if Eric Ford failed as an entrepreneur.
How many thousands of jobs will have been lost today if the two brothers who started Shell failed as entrepreneurs. Each time an entrepreneur fails, thousands of opportunities for wealth creation/making are lost; this is why governments that are serious deem it fit to support entrepreneurs.
Each time an entrepreneur fails, it is not a personal failure only but it is also a societal failure of wealth creation.
Where would Nigeria be if we have 100 of Dangote, Jim Ovia, or Tony Elumelu?Who qualifies to wear the toga of an entrepreneur?
Academics, philosophers and other personalities have their own definition of who an entrepreneur is. I have even seen bio-metrics, which take you through psycho test to examine if you are a good entrepreneur. I am not sure I want to buy into all those approaches/definition of who an entrepreneur is.
To me, an entrepreneur is someone who is determined to apply his creative energy and resources and training to move the society forward. An example is Eric Ford, who said ‘I want to commercialise automobile; I want every American family to be able to own an automobile’.
Before he came on the scene, automobile was exclusively for the rich; an entrepreneur broke it down and ensured that almost all families could afford one.
Bill Gates came to say,’ I want everybody to be able to afford a laptop (computer),’ and he invented the concept of enternols and teaching morally.
He is still pursuing that goal. An entrepreneur is a person who solves practical problems in the society and in the same process gets rewarded financially. You are not an entrepreneur if you are not solving a problem.
We talk about the Business Manager as a resource for the entrepreneur which comes in different forms and shapes.
Hard copy version (on paper), some people have likened it to a business diary. If we pursue that line of thinking; it is a business diary for an entrepreneur that allows the entrepreneur to perform in diary form on paper of every single day all the management , from functions he is meant to perform planning to marketing, to target setting, to human resource management, to accounting, to all the basic management functions.
The Business Manager also comes as a software application; so we have it on CD-ROM which you can install on a laptop/desktop computer and it allows you to perform the 10 functions and a little more that you can do on paper.
The next thing is to make it a mobile application since you so can interact with mobile handset so that you can use it on your phone, ipod or any mobile applications; that will be available in the market in four to six weeks from now.
Banks use LOGOS management tools to drive their operations; some other companies use SAP. Today, big businesses have the management tools and techniques available in the market for them to support their operations.
The tools are designed solely for big businesses and these applications are very expensive. And the small and medium business entrepreneurial start-ups today, to have any application within their financial reach, we decided to go to the bottom of the pyramid so that we can reach the business minded people and entrepreneurs who are at the bottom of the pyramid.
Small and medium business enterprises are our primary targets, they are the people we want to offer solution to, they are the people we are saying you don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying SAP, you don’t have to spend $20,000 buying ERP solution. We are giving you a management system that is suitable for you, that you can perform without losing sleep.
Our first principle on pricing is that it is encapsulated in our company mission statement that we are interested in making our client a long-term partner. So, because we are interested in making every client a long-term partner, we are not looking at immediate profit, we are looking at long time gain both for us and for the client.
Now, this means that when we are thinking of reduction without compromising quality and when we’re are looking at production, we look at factors of production that will be of benefit to us and the client.
What we have is patent right in hard copy resources and in software and the laptops were just like any other laptops being manufactured, it is that we apply our care principle which is excellence and innovation.
The laptops you saw are our brand; we are the owner; what we are doing is going a step further. When you buy a regular laptop, you have to buy and pay for the applications you want on it.
Our own brand of laptop comes with the Business Manager application software installed in it at no extra cost. It is ready –made for the entrepreneur and he can afford starting up with the application needed freely loaded on it.
It is one that is adequate for your purpose, you have all the facilities to get to interact and transact business in any part of the world; it has all the interconnectivity with any other device. We designed these laptops strictly for entrepreneurs.
I believe everyone that has IT knowledge is aware of the components of the hundred version. I can tell you it is highly competitive when you compare it with HP, Dells and Toshiba. The difference between those who do not have a notable name is that we are putting our own brand name and we offering a warranty to support that or back up.
How does government encourage entrepreneurs? President Jonathan took over the helm of affairs about a year ago. The question is not just how much money you have set aside, what is the fund that the government has set-aside to support entrepreneurs.
The question is also how will the fund be delivered to the right people, through what mechanism and at what cost will the financial service be delivered to them?
My advice to the president is that he needs to find committed entrepreneurs. He needs to find them, support them and give them any encouragement they need because they are the ones that will move this nation forward, they are the ones that will change this nation.
My advice is that as he is looking for ministers that will deliver, heads of agencies and parastatals, he also needs committed entrepreneurs so that all the levels’ can deliver.