Dr Maryam Animasaun is an investor, an entrepreneur and Group Managing Director of Oxford International Group, Abuja. In this interview, he speaks on how her organisation engaged over 5,000 people in six years.
This company has the young people as its target, why?
Oxford International Group is a multi-sectoral company. We started about six years ago in Lagos with real estate and along the line, we diversified into other businesses. We now have well over 20 offices cutting across Lagos, Ogun State, Akwa Ibom, Calabar, Benin, Abuja, Oyo, Kano and several other places.
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We are a company that is very particular about human capital development. That is one of our very cores and that is why today, we have over 5,000 staff (mostly youths) that work with us today. We do not really train our staff to be employees but we train them to become entrepreneurs. So, everyone is a leader in their own sphere; so we train humans to become entrepreneurs.
How do people come in to invest in this business?
We actually do not borrow to do our business. We leverage on investors’ funds. Over the years, we have had investors who have come in and we give them a beautiful return on their investment. People have done business and cash out and roll back funds. That has actually kept us going and that’s why we have been able to diversify this much.
How is your company bridging the gap of youth unemployment in Nigeria?
I would say that Oxford International Group is actually closing that gap seriously. Apart from the fact that we employ you and bring you into the organization, we also train you. We do not joke with training. Training and personal development is very key to us. We ensure that our people are well developed so that anywhere they get to, can ably represent the organisation. So, we are ably closing the unemployment gap in Nigeria.
How many youths would you want to take off the labour market in five years?
We actually do not have a limit. If in six years, we have over 5,000 staff, then you can imagine what we would do in the next couple of years. We have the businesses that can sustain as many youths as possible.
Many people have come with investment companies that turned out to be conduit pipes to rip off unsuspecting people of their hard-earned money; what is the assurance about your company?
What I usually tell people who are potential investors is that there are certain things you should look out for when you want to put your money anywhere. One of such things is the promise of a ridiculous huge return on investment; somebody promising you well over 20% every month is ridiculous. You have to look out for an organisation that can offer you something realistic.
How can the government provide a conducive business environment?
What I beg of the government is to support us with a good working environment. We need tax security; we need good policies that will enable us to do business seamlessly without the fear of all of our profits going into payment of taxes. We need good policies and a friendly business environment. Of course, businesses need support funds. We need support funds especially with all we are doing in bridging the unemployment gap.