Export business in Nigeria: Interview session with CEO Remfilson Ltd (Oni Oluwatobi Ayobami) on how to start export business for huge profit in Nigeria
June 28, 2020
Export business in Nigeria – Do you have a knack for diversifying your finance by venturing into exportation of agricultural products from Nigeria to any part of the world.
You probably would have gone into export business long ago, but for limitations in basic knowledge, requisite trainings and fear of losing your money venturing into an unfamiliar terrain, haven’t made a head start,
You possibly are an investor who will not like to meddle with the activities and processes involve in this business, would like to have your money work for you for a huge ROI?
If any of the above sounds like you, then we’ve got you covered in this masterpiece.
Considering the dwindling economy of Nigeria, exportation of agro products have contributed immensely to at least sustaining the economy and preventing it from total collapse, while this happens, Nigerians who play in this industry have been cashing out on steady basis as though everything is in perfect order.
Amid the ongoing novel pandemic, so many businesses have been brought to their knees, but the not agro export sector, as there have been continuous activities in this direction.
That being said, I’ve gone out of my usual routine to interview an industry expert, with avalanche wealth of experience on export business in Nigeria, who despite her tight schedule oblige my request to grant an interview for the benefit of everyone here.
Now over to my guest.
Can we get to know you?
My name is Oni Oluwatobi Ayobami. A native of Oyo state, Nigeria.
I am responsible for the leading, development and execution of the company’s long-term strategies, with the goal of increasing shareholder value.
As the visionary of the company I am responsible for making major corporate decisions, and ensure continuous growth of the company.
Could you please tell us more about Remfilsonexport?
Remfilson Ltd deals primarily in locating, processing and packaging the agricultural commodities in Nigeria and exporting them to our partner’s country all over the world.
We are into exportation of the following commodities:
- Dry split ginger.
2. Hardwood charcoal(Ayin, Mix wood-barbecue,Restaurant)
3. Raw cashew nuts,
4. sesame seed, and
5. Soya beans.Remfilson Ltd was born having identified the opportunities that abound in the country’s agricultural sector.
Nigeria is so blessed with quality natural commodities. Meanwhile, some of these products can’t be exported in their raw forms. They still need to be dried, well-sorted, and packaged to international standard for proper distribution.
We were able to manage the business in the following ways:
1. We identified the exportable commodities that abound in Nigeria and create our niche.
2. At Remfilson , We serve importers that become our client.
We try to understand the need of the buyers (importers), advise them where necessary, keep them abreast of relevant information in line with the commodities they want to import.
And we try our best to exceed their minimum requirements.
3. We also integrate honesty and integrity and business ethics in our business dealings.
The repercussion of this is long term business relationship with our clients.
How long has Remfilsonexport been in existence and in this business?
Remfilson LTD has been in existence since 2013. That’s 7years.
The first 2years of the business was used for learning and supplying of CHARCOAL and ginger to exporters in Nigeria. We call that; Local supply.
Doing that, we were able to study the nitty-gritty of the industry.
Local supply has helped us to get a first-hand practical experience about the industry.
We became conversant with how and where these agro commodities are sourced in large quantity, the countries that accept them, and the overall quality standard acceptable in international market.
For instance, order for CHARCOAL comes from Germany, Belgium, UAE, Turkey, Kuwait, Israel etc.
And for export, it can be sourced in large quantity from Oyo and Kwara states part of the country.
Also, in the case of Ginger and Sesame seeds, its demand for import comes basically from USA, UAE and it can be sourced from Kaduna state in Nigeria.
Soya beans are sourced largely from Mina.
Considering your experience in Agro products exportation, do you think it’s a business Nigerians should venture into either full or part-time?
In fact, if you want extra income or to build up a business more slowly while keeping your current job, this style of business is very suitable for you.
All you need is technical know-how.
It allows you to keep your current job. With the flexibility this opportunity offers, you can start out part-time and eventually expand at your own pace, until you reach full-time if you choose to do it.
In short, this business can be maintained concurrently with virtually any work.
The business is like a journey with a single step to be taken at a time. Before starting the business all, the following elements are required:
*knowledge about the industry.
*Obtaining Export License/Certificate.
*Identification of the product to export and create your niche.
* Locating foreign buyer (s)
You seem to be particular about Hardwood charcoal, considering the falling economy, how can Nigerians key in and make money from it locally without even exporting abroad?
This is a very good and important question.
Hardwood CHARCOAL has been an old source of energy as well still a modern source of energy for cooking in both rural and urban areas.
In Nigeria, studies show the main uses of Charcoal to be for cooking, roasting (of Suya- Barbecue, Maize, Plantain, Cocoyam and Yam), blacksmithing and Bronze.
Charcoal marketing and distribution is a sequence of business activities that involves the producer, dealers, supplier, wholesaler or retailer, and the consumer.
The demand for local consumption of hardwood CHARCOAL is still very high, anyone can engage in it and make a living from it.
I will explain these chain of distributions one after the other:
Producers: These are people who actually made the CHARCOAL. They work in the bush. They sell to Suppliers directly.
Any aspiring Nigerian can venture into this or sponsor people that are into it and make cool money.
Dealers: These sets of people are common in Kwara state. They buy directly from the producers and transport the CHARCOAL from the forest into the major town where they have their warehouses.
They sell directly to either suppliers or exporters.
Suppliers: These sets of people are common in Oyo state. Their major customers are exporters.
Exporters pay them for cost of CHARCOAL and sorting. The supplier in this regard is responsible for sorting the CHARCOAL according to the specifications given to the exporter.
Wholesalers: These sets of people are usually found in major markets. They have sizeable shops or stores, where they warehouse their CHARCOAL.
They buy from suppliers and sell to retailers. These sets of people make cool money. Sometimes they can buy a bag of CHARCOAL for 1,500 and sell for 2000. And most of them sell volumes.
Retailers: They buy directly in bags from wholesaler and further sell in shades to the final consumers. Their customers are main users of Charcoal for cooking, Roasting (of Suya- Barbecue, Maize, Plantain, Cocoyam and Yam), blacksmithing.
Anyone who is interested in this sphere of influence can operate successfully in any of the chain of distribution.
If positioned very well, one can play in two to three aspect of it and be making cool money.
For instance, at Remfilson Ltd, we still serve as dealer to some companies here in Nigeria and at the same time a supplier to some poultry farmers and wholesalers in Lagos.
Assuming you get an order for a 40 feet container abroad, how would you coordinate this and deliver within a time frame
This coordination involves many stages. And it should be done one after the other.
The whole process from signing a sales contract to getting proceeds of the export takes a minimum of six weeks and maximum of two months.
Although, lately, there have been a form of delay as a result of the congestion at the port.
But government in collaboration with stakeholders are working hard to ensure things come back to normal.
However, here are the procedures:
1. The first step is to get our Sales Contract from the buyer.
2. We check the Sales Contract, amend, sign and stamp-seal it and send it back to the buyer.
3. We Source for charcoal
- We Sort the charcoal according to the specifications we have in the contract.
- We Notify our freight forwarder about the order and prepare for documentation6. We then notify the buyer when the charcoal will be ready for loading and send the pictures of the ready to load CHARCOAL to the buyer.
6. Buyer will make container booking according to the our schedule.
- We arrange for truck to convey the container to the point of loading
- Pictures of the empty container with the container Number is sent to the buyer.
- We make pictures of the loading process
- Closing the container and the closing seal No of the container will be sent as pictures to the buyer.
- We Register our export order on NXP portal, and pay for our NESS fees. www.tradesystem.gov.ng13. We Follow up with our freight forwarder for proper documentation.
- Once we receive our Export document, we take it to the bank.
- Our bank will then send it to the buyer’s (importer’s) bank to process the payment in a case of Cash against Document.
We Receive export proceed into our bank.Would you be willing to take in investors should any come knocking?
Sure, we have couple of investors we have been working with over the years. Some of them are now shareholders in the company.
We are still open to welcoming more. The beauty of this business is that the higher your capital, the higher your capacity.
Considering your expertise in this business, what is the most and often required specification of charcoal from buyers abroad?
Basic charcoal exported from Nigeria are:
1.Mix wood charcoal
3.Non spark charcoal
These can further be divided into two (2) categories according to their sizes.
• A barbecue charcoal grade starts from 20mm- 250mm
- While a restaurant grade charcoal starts from 40mm-200mm.
In a nut shell, a good stock for hardwood charcoal contain considerable low moisture contents, low ash contents and very minimum volatile matter contents.
Another good quality of hardwood charcoal is to be in good sizes usually between 20-250mm and relatively high carbon contents to suit any usage.
The most important primary international acceptable specifications of a Charcoal for export includes: (Constituents Percentage)
Moisture contents 8%max
Volatile matter 5-10% max
Ash contents 4%max
Wood matter 2-4%
Charcoal Size 20-250mm
Color Black or Dark grey
Carbon contents 80% min
Packaging Bulk, PP Bags
A handful of readers here would like to join food export business in Nigeria, they however lack the requisite knowledge, do you provide any form of training for aspiring agro product exporters?
Yes, we do. We train, we mentor and give practical knowledge on agro export. To succeed as an agro exporter in this part of the world, you need someone who can give a first hand and relevant information about the industry. Export business in Nigeria is 100% practical.
Anyone interested in exportation of Nigeria produce can contact us for training.
Do you think the novel COVID-19 Pandemic affects food export business in any way?
On a small scale it does. But on a large scale it does not. Let me buttress what I mean by small and large scale export:
Exports on a small scale make use of cargoes to transport their consignment to their buyers. All aircraft movement have been suspended since this pandemic is becoming alarming.
But a large scale export is done by sea, a container based shipment.
At the moment, for large scale export, government authorities have excluded people working at the sea port from this lockdown.
Hence, shipment of food export on a large scale is not affected in anyway by the pandemic.
What is your advice for young Nigerians and graduates without jobs, roaming the streets in search of white collar jobs?
From the look of things, what these sets of people need is re-orientation and enlightenment on how things work.
Many of them believed, by right as a graduate, they must get a well-paid job. Whether from the government or from big companies in Nigeria.
In fact, so many parents nowadays struggle to send their children to school hoping that once they graduate from school, money will start flowing.
Consequently, after graduation, when they could not get their desired job, they relaxed and became liability to the society and start blaming government for it.
Meanwhile, the reality of the present age is that, there is no guarantee of getting paid job after graduation.
However, I’m still of the opinion that it’s not everyone that has the skill or gift of becoming an entrepreneur, but everyone must work!
As a young graduate, aspiring for greatness, you must start from somewhere even as you wait for that your dream job.
Sometimes, as a young graduate from a humble home without any leverage what you need, is survival, be able to FEED YOURSELF, CLOTHE YOURSELF, TRANSPORT YOURSELF etc and not to make it big yet, but to make a living.
Everyone God created has a gift. Some discovered theirs early while some are yet to. If you are among those in search of a job, and you have a skill, maybe all you need to do is to take a moment and look inwards.
What do you enjoy doing, what comes to you naturally? Ask questions and seek knowledge about those things.
Write them down and approach them from a problem solving angle, then just get up and start.
Today, there are opportunities in catering and decoration, painting, fashion designing, hat and bead making, laundry and dry cleaning, farming and so on.
I have seen many graduates make money from selling fried yam and Akara (beans cake), Suya, Recharge cards, Phone accessories, etc.
A lady in Lagos Island is making big money selling roasted plantain, she spice it up by adding vegetables, cucumber, cabbage, etc. She gets orders from big offices and even gets orders to serve in some parties.
On the other hand, If you are the type that do not know what to do in terms of businesses, rendering services or selling products and no (white collar) job is forth coming; you can start small by taking up any available job around from the SME’s industry.
Get up every day and do a legitimate job to feed and cloth yourself. It can be teaching, working as a sales representative in a shop, secretary ,Linking buyers with sellers to earn a commission, marketing, computer operator, and many more.
I know of a close friend that took up a job as a security officer at Halogen security after our graduation. He’s now doing well in a big company, but he started somewhere.
Some graduates now, both males and females are doing well as UBER drivers. Some of them collected the cars on hire purchase, and afterward have their own cars. They in turn do the same to others.
Do you know that there are more job opportunities in SME’s industry than Big companies? But most graduates are not paying attention to that space!
Some of us must start from the scratch and climb the ladder. Education only open our senses to opportunities that abound and how to take advantage of them.
I believe every single person is gifted, so don’t be lazy by giving excuses. Rise up to challenges and use your hand to write your stories.
Until that your dream job comes, get busy doing something.
Don’t be proud or look too far, start small. Look around you, there are needs to be met. There are people that need your service.
Sometimes, our pride is always the roadblock to our success. We usually have that image of the kind of jobs we’ll like to do after our graduation in minds.
The kind of pay we’ll like to go home with every month, and bla bla bla.
I will like to cite myself as an example. After my NYSC in 2010, like every other young graduate, I desired a classic job.
I love to dress in my suit in the morning, go to work and come back later in the day.
In fact, I had used some of the money I saved during my NYSC to buy some nice suit preparing for my desired job.
But after few months that no job was forth coming. I had a talk within myself to concentrate more on the small business I had then.
Sales of Recharge cards (Wholesale and retail)
I gave it all my best, did a lot of marketing, even employed more staff to supply all retailing outlet around us both morning and evening.
The business did well. I could pay my staff, pay myself , paid for rents and still invest in learning and acquiring knowledge.
That my so called ‘small business’ then serves as a means to my end. And not an end itself.
I used the profit I got from the business to pay my Bills. I didn’t depend on anybody or shift blames on anyone. I kept updating my CV and in few months I got a job and still continue to run my personal business by the side. I kept investing my salary into the business after removing my transport fare for the month.
What I’m saying in essence is start small, don’t be too shy to do any kind of job, remember you can’t be there for long once you have focus.
That big job will still come, that small business will become a company. But, pending the time, you can’t just sit down and keep dreaming. There’s need to take actionable steps NOW!
The way to success is by building capacity. Adding value to yourself, and be faithful in your work. If you’re faithful in little, more will be committed into your hand.
If your passion is business, you can grow by your persistence, patience, innovation and your integrity.
If you’re in a paid employment, you can climb the ladder by your faithfulness and diligence. Faithful to your Boss, diligent in carrying out your duties.
Success is a gradual processes, no success without hard-work.
Your final words:
My final word is Titled: ‘Give Life Your Best’
The normal expectations of everyone on this planet earth is to have a stress-free life, without having to work so hard or struggle so much for it.
Everybody wants to be happy in life. Everybody wishes for good life. We all want to live a perfect life. We want that great job or a successful business. Nobody likes to struggle through life.
Unfortunately, that is also what may be stopping you from having that great life!
The thought of all that work, all that planning, overcoming hurdles, struggles, sleepless nights and resistance is enough to make a lot of people give up before they even start.
It can be overwhelming, draining, and mentally scary. You may not know what to do at some points or how to figure out the future.
I want you to know that you’re not alone. Don’t give up. Give life the best you can. Keep pushing, keep believing, involve your mind, involve your senses. Always remember that every successful soul and body must pass through that same boat.
The secret is that they face their fears.
So you too should face your fears, trust in God and commit all you need to do into his hands, live purposefully, be determined, have integrity, set your priorities right.
Don’t act foolishly or take rash decisions be diligent, be generous, be patient. Get all the knowledge you need…make a research, study hard, meet people, get mentors (good and experienced ones) seek good counsel.
You are unique, don’t flow with the crowd, obedience is key, be persistent, learn from your experience.
Don’t repeat your mistakes, go easy on yourself, you are human, take some rest.
Take time off to reflect and plan, be a good steward of all you have, be grateful.
And lastly, to be successful in life, love people and do good to them. value human, people are your steps, people are your leverages.
For enquiry, do contact Remfilson Ltd on;
- [email protected]
Raphael Orji is a freelance writer, professional blogger and a content marketing consultant. I work with small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs in building their brand image with high quality blogging and content marketing strategy.
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