By Eric Elezuo Photos: Ken Ehimen
A successful business person is like gold in midst of rubies considering the intensity of heat it has gone through to become such adorable object. This establishes the fact that “no good thing comes easy”. Maurice Asuquo Etim is a typical example of a prolific business man, who aims to become successful. His strengths lie in energy, maritime, communication, logistics, construction, multi-level Marketing, network marketing, and countless others. His acumen for business is commendable in spite of his near poor background.
Born on December 16, 1974, Maurice, who prides himself as an opportunity taker, had a prolific stint with Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry before venturing into personal business.
In this exclusive interview, the General Manager of Edmark Networking Marketing spoke extensively on his business, lifestyle, background and how he rose from nothing to prominence. Excerpts:
As a business man, what line of business are you identified with
I’m a trader. Of course, when you say you are a business man, it’s only in the developed world that people specialize but when you are in this part of the economy that is like a ‘virgin’ land, you will have to invade everywhere, because it will not make much sense to just remain at a place in the name of specialization. You won’t do justice to the economy if you want to specialize at a time like this.
You sound like a master of many businesses or…
Like I said, this is a virgin economy, and the fact that I have a Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry background you know what you to expect. We capture the totality of the economy, and why would one want to specialize? You have to do justice to the economy. However, I am Maritime business, where I undertake clearing logistics, and will soon be going into shipping. Beside that I am into trade promotion, which was basically what I was doing while I was with Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, that is involvement in the organization of trade fare.
How long ago
I left Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2002. I’ve acquired the experience between 1990 and 2001. Consequently, I have been in private business practice since 2002. While working with the Chamber of Commerce, I was exposed to virtually every sector of the economy. I therefore, gathered little experiences about everything, and that has kept me going.
To summarise my involvement in a nutshell; I’m into Maritime – logistics, multi-level Marketing, network marketing because I do generate some revenue from this axis.
Apart from the Chamber of Commerce experience, I was tutored by one I can comfortably call a mentor today. His name was Jaye Okorodudu. He really taught me everything I know about business today.
Some people see network marketing as scam… What is your network marketing all about?
Network marketing is basically an easy way to empower so many people but in any good thing there are always people who would want to take advantage of it. In Nigeria, network marketing is not fully explored, because we don’t have the experience in comparison to countries like Malaysia. In networking business, there is always opportunity to scam people and the same is applicable to Nigeria. Several network companies that came in the name of trying to empower people ended up duping them. And because Nigerians are not experienced in that sector of the business, they are bound to fall prey to scammers. But that does not remove the fact that network marketing is the easiest way to empower many people.
Let’s talk about Edmark in especially, can you describe what Edmark is all about, their level of marketing and performance
Edmark was introduced into Nigeria in 1998, and our first office was opened at Opebi in the same year, and till date, the brand is still growing stronger and stronger. I remember when we started, we were heavily criticized by people who told us that network marketing will only last for two – three years. Of course, that still bring us to the fact that network marketing is about timing. So, when people say make the sum of money you can make now, because it won’t last for 3, 4 years. Yes! But because of where I’m coming from, I believe in growing concern, which means you have to always believe that the business will continue growing. I do believe that every business I’m into will grow. It’s just the mindset.
Therefore, Edmark is a very reliable network marketing because for you to know a good reliable network marketing company, you need to look the people behind the business. I said this because the business might be good but if the people behind it are fraudulent; their mind will be only on what they can take out immediately. Hence, the key thing to look out for is those behind the business?
Again, one should also consider the product they are into because a successful network marketing depends on the products presented – is it tested and trusted, a product that can solve the problem for which it is used. There is no compromising the quality. Another important factor to be considered is whether the product is consumable, and whether people would come back for it as a result of its efficacy.
More so, the marketing plan must be such that it will empower the people. Most of them will say if you get to this level, you are going to get a car, house, and a constant income. So, is that marketing plan genuine, or is it something that would truly empower people. The plan has to truly empower people.
In summary, the three considerable factors are the people behind the company, the product that the company is promoting, and the compensation plan. If all these three are put together, and it’s tested and trusted; then you can go home and sleep because you already have a successful marketing company.
Between 1998 and now, what are the feedbacks from clients like?
That Edmark is still existing and waxing means that the feedbacks are glorious. When we say you are going to qualify for house, we are going to have continuous income, we are going to take care of your health; it works that way. Therefore, if we still exist after 11 years, what does that tell you? It is because we pay attention to whatever we promise, and that’s why people continue to be part of the system. We have been able fulfill our promise to the people through providing them with good products that guarantee sound health, making sure that if you are committed you will surely have a car, a house, and continuous cash flow on a monthly basis.
Are there other things extra-ordinary about the company worth knowing
Yes, we are constructing a new podium along Aromire Street on Adeniyi Jones. It may interest you to know that we initiated the construction of that building when recession was at its peak. People who were wondering why we are constructing new building at such a time were told that is how to know the company that has a very genuine leveraging, because network marketing is about genuine leverage, which means taking advantage of other people’s expertise, talent, finance, income and time. Moreover, you leverage on virtually everything especially those things you don’t have which you are getting from other people.
Take for example, I need to drink good wine, so I have leverage on that also. I have got a sole franchise to market Lamborghini wine in the whole of Africa. So, I’m not going into the wine business because I want to make money, I’m going into it because I want to retire to drink good wine and not chemicals. Therefore, before the end of the first quarter of this year, we are launching Lamborghini wine. It is from the makers of Lamborghini car we all know.
Sir, can I say confidently that you were able to do this based on the fact you have a stint with chamber of Commerce?
Yes! You are right, because I became a staff of chamber of Commerce with Idowu Taylor, I was also lucky to be posted to promotion department which organises the famous Lagos international trade fares; that is where I was exposed to business, because I was exposed to a lot of trade delegation from all over the world on daily and weekly basis, who come to present their bilateral business opportunities. Although as at that time, I wasn’t too sure if I would be going back to university. So, I decided to learn this as if I’m an apprentice in a mechanical workshop. Therefore, if you say that is the genesis of my business interest, you are right!
You were not the only there at that time. Most of your contemporaries have fallen by the way side. What was it that helped you manage information derived there to blossom today
If I say it was because I really planned for it; I’m telling you a lie. The truth is that Almighty God directed my footsteps, and guided my brain. And I give God all the glory for where I am today; I don’t know anything about it or how it comes about. Honestly, if I say it’s because I’m creative of anything; I would just be stupid. Till today, I don’t really know how God directed my footsteps, brain, and my actions to be where I am today. Therefore, I give God all the glory, because He’s the one behind it all!
In terms of family, and how have you been able to manage this enormous business task and of course family?
(Laughs…) I met my wife when she was 17 years old.
You nurtured her?
Yeah! And she is still there to enjoy all the exploit it; therefore, I give it to her. So, having endured all the exploit at the youthful stage, this just a merry go round. Again, it has not been easy because I am hardly around, and my wife has been the one managing the homefront and bringing up the children. it is good now she has become part of the business as a director of one of my companies; Nkoyo Kitchen Appliances.
So, I can confidently say I give it to the woman in your life…
Yes. When I met her, she wanted to go to the best schools in London but today, she talks more like a business woman. She’s the one behind my kitchen appliances; promoting it online.
Nkoyo Kitchen Appliances is an all kitchen appliance company whose name from was derived from my mother’s maiden name. I lost her when I was about making it in life, at the very threshold of my crossing the poverty line. So to keep her memory alive, I have to immortalize her by using her.
This was a woman who use to bring food from Calabar to Lagos, when I was at the University of Lagos to support me. And at my point of success; she died. Fortunately, ‘Nkoyo’ means princess, and I promise to keep her alive and take her all over the globe.
This year, I will be launching a television station, Smart TV, that is going to be branded. I also want to launch a quality, good air-conditioner. All will be branded Nkoyo. I’m in touch with a German company, which is handling that, because I can’t promote my mom’s name using fake products.
Can you itemize the company you run?
Of course, before Edmark, I had a company called Medita, aimed at trade promotion because that where I started from. It’s defunct now. Moreover, right now, Edmark is a vibrant and very active company, of which I’m associated with. Although I own Edmark before the Malaysians came in, I needed to give them consoling shares for them to bring in finances; so, I give it to them, and floated the company known as Oromu Maritime and Construction Limited, because I needed to control the shipment of Edmark products, in order to have a hitch free operation; I own that company also. Meanwhile, it’s an energy, logistics, and construction company, because I don’t want to register different companies based on my finances at that time, I decided to capture everything into one. Therefore, I have Oromu Energy and Construction, and Afrizone Marketing and Communication Company, that company handles the promotion, and it is the sole importer of Nkoyo kitchen appliances, right now.
Where do you import from?
I import from Germany, China, India and Taiwan. Moreover, I look at countries that have comparative advantages of certain products. Of course, I have Commercial Ghana Global Limited which is involved in the importation of Nkoyo products in Ghana.
Also, I own basic Commercial Pharmaceutical Company, which IS partnering with Indians for pharmaceutical products. We promote a lot of pharmaceutical products. I own Bio-Flock Integrated Aquatic Farm located in Ketu-Epe on 20 acres of land for massive poultry farm. This is between Epe and Itokin.
Okay, but what was it like when you made your first one million naira?
Honestly, I didn’t make a million. When I made millions was from 120 something thousand to 27 million. And it was at the Lagos International Trade Fare.
So the feeling could have been turbocharged?
The feeling could have been a problem but because of my nature, and God actually planned me to go far that’s why He made me behaved normal to date. With that amount, I didn’t feel as if I have money; maybe because the poverty has entered so deep. But like I said, I give God all the glory; He’s the author and the finisher. He knows where we are coming from, and where we are going to. Therefore, we are just pencil in His hand, according to a popular quote.
Looking at your background, you came from a background where you struggled your way… So how are you going to give back to the society?
Yes! God has actually arranged me to give back to the society; look at how many people that have been empowered by Edmark, you will know God has actually used me to give back. 2009, 2010 – my compound was the worse building in my village but with all sense of modesty, and humility, I would say it’s now one of the best. I’ve put it here not to brag, but to empower the youths in this community. Therefore, they don’t need to ask me for money because I’ve given them the money already; so, go and make it. It is possible you can make it; if I can go from this place without hope and come back to put up such a structure, it means anybody can achieve more.
That’s internal empowerment, is there any external empowerment?
Few years ago, when I wasn’t making anything, I actually empowered all the youth of my Local Government by sponsoring a football competition, and it was aimed at basically encouraging them to go into football; knowing what football is doing to youths. This was in 2005, and the first team won 150,000, the second got 100,000, and the third got 50,000. Then, I didn’t have any money; I just give it out. The activities were not control by me, but I just try to empower them. I’m not a politician but if you ask people, you will know in my little way, I’ve supported the community. I have never done government contract before, everything I’m made of today is from the open market. Therefore, I give out in my own little way, and I pray God will continue to put me in a higher position where I can give more.
Do you really have any interest in politics?
Like I said, I don’t even know how to play politics.
And if you are given a political appointment, would you accept?
Honestly, it’s all about politics but for now I won’t say I will go in or not. But the truth is I don’t know how to play politics, except I want to be tutored and I don’t know how to tell lies.
But if in your community; especially people you’ve affected might just appoint you to represent them.
Probably they think what I have done in my private capacity can make me do more. But when you go into the public domain, there are lots of constraints but the question is will I be in the position to surmount all those constraints.
So, the answer is yes or no?
It’s yes-no. Except I’m giving an opportunity to serve people without politics, then I can do it. But, I don’t really need to be in politics to carter for the people; I don’t need to. Let the government create conducive environment for businesses, then you can empower the people. We don’t need them to come and lineup when they see me coming. That’s not empowerment. Let government give me an opportunity to head an investment, industry, since I know how to create businesses out of no business. This is because I worked with Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry right from my youth and I am a typical opportunity taker.
With Edmark and other businesses you’ve mentioned, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years, I want to take the group to stock exchange, because I want to leave a legacy behind. I can’t leave a legacy by handing my businesses to my children, because they would destroy it.
So, what’s the plan?
My plan is to go to the floor of the stock exchange, where the public would subscribe to, and it would be a growing concern. That’s my target. If God would keep me healthy, give me the wisdom, acumen, to package my business up to a point of handing it over to the public so that people can buy into it, and have shares. Then, I would be a very successful business person.
On a final note, what advice would you give to the youths of today; especially where you came from that want to be like you someday?
My advice to the youths, especially of my community is to always see their disadvantages as their advantage. They should see not having parents, uncle to support as an advantage. They should not see it as a disadvantage, and they should believe in themselves.
How do you relax
When I can, I relax with my family. I also watch football though the only team I support at the moment is the Super Eagles. I enjoy fish and good wine, and that explains my interest in marketing Lamborghini wine.