By Moses Nosike
Margaret Olele is the Chief Executive Officer/ Executive Secretary, American Business Council, the voice of American Business in Nigeria and the affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to this role, Olele had worked as the Corporate Affairs Director for Pfizer in West, East & Southern African Markets responsible for Public Affairs and Communication engagements and represented Pfizer on the Board of Directors of the American Business Council.
Her over 26 years leadership experience in Food and Pharma industry traversing Public Affairs, Business Development, regulatory, Communication, Quality Management systems across Sub Sharan Africa is responsible for her outstanding performance and success in different management level and personal life, having worked in different organisation.
In this interview with Nosike Moses, she reveals how American Business Council drives trade and investment opportunities in the interest of Nigeria and USA. She also explained how she leverages on long existing relationship to advance advocacy and policy issues including the power of partnership.
Tell us opportunities accruing in American Business Council?
The Council drives trade and investment opportunities in the interest of Nigeria and USA and in the interest of member companies. For instance, the Council is an integral stakeholder in the Nigeria -US Bi -National Commission (BNC) meeting with the US mission “ to build partnership for tangible and measurable progress on issues critical to the United States’s and Nigeria’s shared future” and the US- Nigeria commercial and investment dialogue – a government to private sector initiative that was launched in 2017.
As the voice of American Business in Nigeria, we have become also a key advocacy platform for the private sector. The Council is the American Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria and supports sustainable socio-economic reforms through collaborative engagements with the government and other stakeholders including the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Nigerian – American Chamber of Commerce.
Tell us your experience at ABC as Chief Executive Officer and how it has helped mostly your personal life?
I believe the questions should be how my personal life have helped what I do and vice versa. I often leverage long existing relationships to advance advocacy and policy issues as well as leveraging the power of partnerships. I must say however, that working with different companies and different sectors, enriched me with worthwhile perspectives about the opportunities in this sector and the various investment opportunities that exist.
Can you relate some of the achievements of ABC in Nigeria?
As mentioned earlier, American Business is the key advocacy platform for private sector. Among other to drive policy and regulatory reforms, we have organized strategic discussions with the Central Bank Governor, the Minister of Trade and Investment and the Minister of Budget and Planning, all of whom have sought American Business Council’s feedback and input on major policy decisions, including the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan, to improving the ease of doing business initiative and CBN’s currency interventions. The Council has also mobilized multi-stakeholder’s groups to engage regulatory agencies and resolve critical challenges for member companies.
Members of American Business council are mostly US Corporate brands that have supported education, digitalization and localization through building capabilities and training. Concerned also about growing Nigeria’s untapped creative market, the council has supported stakeholder events taking concrete steps to ascertain how we can tap in the global, animation and video game industry valued at 349 billion dollars.
We also put together intellectual property workshops and symposium that will help increase investor’s confidence in the country. In addition, we work to improve human development in Nigeria working with partners.
Are there challenges facing ABC in Nigeria?
Challenges facing ABC are the challenges facing businesses in Nigeria and the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Overlapping regulations; fly by night policies like dairy policies that make it difficult to work on long term plans; lack of clear IP laws.
What do you think that needs to be done to strengthen African women?
Government should be/remain committed to the understanding and implementation of SGD Goal 5 Gender Equality. We have moved from the period women were deprived from furthering their education because they were only going to end in the kitchen to the understanding that when we train a girlchild we train a nation.
Women should however get over this victim mentality, relish the kitchen experience, but strive to excel in the business world too. Women should not struggle to compare with men, but must have the competitive spirit that will make them soar in all they do. Women in the corporate world should also mentor younger women.