BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
Her driving force is watching businesses grow. Since her days at the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce where she watched small businesses metamorphosed into large businesses just by being exposed to the right platforms, Ms. Rosemary Akaette Duamlong has never lost confidence in the power of networking.
Now the CEO/Principal Consultant of Gren Business Dimensions, a multifaceted organisation which specialises in business consultancy, travels and tourism, Rosemary is tirelessly doing what she believes in. In this interview, among sundry issues, she reveals how Gren Business is partnering the Benue State Government on the forthcoming annual Akata Fishing and Cultural Festival. Enjoy!
For how long has Gren operated?
We’ve been in existence since 2010. Before then, I had worked with the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce as its Programmes and Publicity Officer. There, I learnt the ethics and everything I needed to learn about the power of networking, and I realised that if given the right platform, a small company could actually meet someone that could help it grow beyond its owner’s expectations. In fact, I saw this happen during the yearly international tours organised by the Chamber. This was what planted the seed for Gren Business, together with my passion for tourism.
Over the years, how have you turned this passion for tourism into business opportunities for others?
We are basically into building networks and platforms for organisations to leverage on, to expand their businesses and grow. We have done this for a couple of years; our major package is business tourism- we organise business tours where we take companies in Nigeria to organisations outside the country that are interested in doing business in Nigeria. On these platforms, the organisations we take end up building synergies with other foreign organisations.
But we don’t only take people outside Nigeria; we also facilitate companies that are outside Nigeria to do business in Nigeria, and to also finance projects in Nigeria. The world today is a global market no matter what you are selling, so, networking is one platform that every business needs, not just in Nigeria but also the world over. It’s all about the power of networking and we provide that platform because I got to find out that the small-scale business, if given the opportunity and exposure the large-scale business have, will actually do better and grow.
Who are your targets; or do you work with just any kind of business?
We work with private businesses as well as with government, and there is no limit to who we could work with. We have in the past collaborated with the government of Akwa Ibom State on a number of projects and presently we are working with the Benue State government on the annual “Akata Fishing and Cultural Festival”. This festival has held for 34 years and yet, the world has not heard much about it.
This is what we want to correct. This year’s event will take place from Tuesday 4th to Thursday 6th June, 2013. The First Lady of Benue State, Deaconess Yemisi Suswam, is the face and ambassador of Akata 2013, which apart from the yearly fishing and cultural festival, is also focusing on highlighting the business possibilities and opportunities in the agricultural and agro-allied sectors of the economy of Benue State.
The business conference aspect of the Akata Festival is something I am proud to say Gren Business has now introduced. It is my prayer that it helps open up Benue State to industries and organisations that would come in there and establish. I would be happy if by the time my collaboration with the state government ends, I am able to point at a few things and say, these are the things that came up through my business tourism innovations.
What’s your advice to organisations in Nigeria?
No man is an island! The opportunities out there are great and one thing that I see here in Nigeria is that we like doing things on our own. Even States do not network with other states; everybody has this “I can run things on my own” attitude. There should be an inter-connectivity of these things through a networking platform. So I would encourage government and private organisations to cultivate the habit of networking.
What have been your challenges in this business?
The challenges are enormous, especially in doing business as a woman, but I see every challenge as a stepping-stone. This has been my philosophy about life – every challenge is a stepping stone to greater things and until you start seeing life that way, you won’t surmount any challenge. However, whether you are a man or woman, what makes you stand out are the principles you apply in your business. My major principle has been one guiding factor that has helped me succeed so far- integrity. I deliver on my word and I don’t promise clients what I cannot do. And I have an unquenchable appetite and passion for what I do.
May we know a little about your background?
I’m from Akwa-Ibom State, but was born in Abeokuta where I began my primary school education. My dad was a military man. I’ve since then lived in Lagos State where I attended secondary and commercial schools, and on my mum’s insistence that I should train as a teacher, I went to a Teachers’ Training College. I taught for three years and then got admission into the University of Ibadan where I did a diploma course in Law. I later went to the Lagos State University where I graduated with a degree in English Language.
My first job shortly after graduation was as a Publicity and Programme Officer with the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, I’ve worked with Hotel Support Service Limited (HSSL), Five Star Travel where I was the General Manager, Business Development. In 2009, I established Gren Business Dimensions and a year later, I left Five Star Travel to squarely face Gren Business.