Despite the COVID-19 lockdown effects and the recession that followed, Bengies Group – a rising local multi-sector firm said it was able to manage its 1,500 staff without sacking any.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, Chairman of the Group, Engr. Ben Akak, said the firm has interests in real estate, construction, oil and gas, bakery, and other food-related businesses.
He said the consequences of having more young people out of job made the Group to innovate on managing the staff despite the poor business situation in 2020.
“What we did was evolve a strategy where we did shifts until things normalized then we called them back,” he said. Akak, who spoke about how he started, said he transformed a N40,000 seed fund into a multibillion naira investment in 10 years. He also wants to expand across Africa while reinvesting about N1bn annually in the next five years to create more jobs for Nigerian youths.
He however raised concerns about the difficulty in the ease of doing business in Nigeria which is compounded by high interest rates on loans, and called for moratorium for SMEs driven by young people.
“I think the interest rate on our borrowing is staggering and the moratorium is very short. You are borrowing at 22.5 percent and you are required to pay in one year. All these things put together do not allow the economy to grow.
“We must begin to rejig the economy to the point that we make sacrifices. We must be disciplined in governance and how we introduce stimulus into the economy, and then we can make progress,” he stated.