By Naomi Uzor
In line with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s strategy to deepen the quality of growth through the backward integration policy, Unilever Nigeria Plc yesterday demonstrated its support for the policy through its “Partner to Win”initiative.
Partner to Win, is Unilever Nigeria’s initiative of investing in capabilities of intermediary companies to enable them convert farm produce to usable goods that will be sourced by the company as part of its raw materials locally. The organization believes this will enable it achieve a significant reduction in the importation of raw materials by working with local partners.
Speaking at the Manufacturing and Equipment, Nigerian Raw Materials Expo, Unilever, West Africa, Procurement Director, Thomas Mwanza gave examples of steps taken by Unilever to achieve this drive in packaging and agro-based materials.
“Already, Unilever has achieved over 90% in local sourcing of packaging materials. The aim is to achieve 100% by the end of 2019 and overcome the current challenges of local vendor’s capacity to meet up with global best standard. In agro-allied sector, Unilever is partnering with intermediary companies, for the supply of cassava and starch.”
Providing the motivation for this decision,Mwanza said, “the backward integration programme of the Federal Government is a sound policy and as an organization we are committed to this initiative. We have found strong connections between this policy and our business model. This has spurred us to enhance our local sourcing capabilities that we have embarked on for about a decade.”
Speaking on the economic benefits of aligning with the government on this strategy, Thomas said, “by working with the intermediary companies to source these materials, we are contributing to up-scaling the technical skills required for sustainable commercial farming in Nigeria.
We are also investing in the production of palm oil for use in BlueBand and soaps, and exploring local production of herbs and spice for our seasoning cubes. We believe that our partnership with these investors will not only create jobs within the agriculture sector but also provide support that will enhance their technical know-how and skills.”