MANAGING Director of Spectra Industries Limited, Mr. Durodola Kuteyi, in an interview with Gabriel Olawale, urged the Federal Government to implement realistic and sustainable policy to boost small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), which is the quickest way to provide employment to teeming youths, who due to joblessness have turned to sundry crimes like kidnapping, cybercrimes banditry and others. Excerpts:
Rising crime rate is stifling business activities, especially SMEs; suggest the way out?
In actual fact, insecurity has reached the level we are now because there are many idle hands, who if gainfully engaged would not have gone into kidnapping, cybercrimes, banditry, robbery and even ritual killings. I will therefore, call on the Federal Government to come up with a realistic and sustainable policy that will help SMEs to overcome financing challenges because small and medium scale enterprises the quickest and easiest way to engage the teeming youths in legitimate ventures.
Would you say the Nigeria’s business environment suit operations of SMEs?
Emphatically no! It has not been a rosy experience considering the situation where SME operators are actually over-burdened by government and also exposed to unfair competition from multinationals, frustrated by harsh financing terms by banks as well as multiple layers of tax and other sundry charges by various levels of governments.
Tell us about your partnership with FG and state governments during COVID-19?
I am glad to announce that both the Federal and the various state governments have not only endorsed our products, they have found in them unrivaled quality such that during the COVID-19 lock down, we partnered with the Federal government by processing 10 trailers of sorghum and converting them to our branded Hyfiba. These were delivered to Abuja and other states such as Katsina, Niger, Ekiti, Lagos, Plateau and Bauchi. We also donated our products to Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti States for the states to include in the palliatives given to vulnerable groups. Our commitment to processing and manufacturing of food is made imperative by the need for Nigerians to eat healthy so as to live a healthy life.
There were reports of you preaching healthy foods….
In Nigeria, we cannot boast of good medical facilities like we have in developed countries and once your body system breaks down, you are on your own. So, the best thing expected of you is to eat healthy food. That is why in Spectra Industries Ltd., our slogan is, ‘Home of Functional Foods’ and we are consistently researching into how to provide Nigerians with quality and healthy food brands that are up to global standard and yet affordable. It does not cost a fortune to eat healthy. For instance, when you embrace daily consumption of Cocoa products, there are a lot of medical benefits that go with the consumption of cocoa for its healing power. Cocoa bean has been found to be rich in antioxidants, minerals and nutrients providing innumerable health benefits as scientists consider cocoa powder as an active agent that helps prevent the growth of infectious bacteria in the body.
How can Nigeria tackle post-harvest losses?
As active practitioner in food processing, we are aware that a lot of our harvested food experience post – harvest loss. We also recognize that Nigeria is a massive country and we may not have the capacity to reach the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. Our consultancy outfit has therefore over the years embarked on training other SMEs in food processing so that those we have trained can reach other areas we cannot reach to address the problem of post- harvest losses and so that these seasonal crops can be available all the year round.
We are therefore calling on the various levels of government to come and partner with Betamark as we plan to take this training of SMES in Food Processing to the next level.
What is your book ‘One Way Ticket: My Uninterrupted Life Journey from Pot to Factory’ is about?
It gives a lot of insight on how to navigate through the labyrinth of the challenges of SMEs in Nigeria and the funds realized from the book launch will be channeled into building an SME Industrial Centre. This I believe will revolutionize the food industry in Nigeria. We are also appealing to willing Nigerians to partner with us in that regard. By partnering with us, you can be rest assured that you have contributed in resolving one of the major problems of Nigeria, which is unemployment as well as resolve the issue of food security.
Evaluate the trajectory of Spectra Industries Limited
It has indeed been a journey of a mixed grill of the good, the bad, and the ugly from the time I started frying plantain chips with a pot and burner to this present day where we now boost of international factories that produce varieties of products such as Suco Cocoa Powder, Spectra (Pure Natural) Cocoa, Hyfiba, Fast O Meal, and Sobake, some of which are being exported. The journey so far is what I have tried to summarize in my book, “From Pot To factory”. To the glory of God, from this mixed grill, we have been able to create a success story that has altered the competitive landscape of food processing and manufacturing in Nigeria.