• Saturday, June 15, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Truth and trust are responsible for success of Twinsfaja – Fajana

Truth and trust are responsible for success of Twinsfaja – Fajana (1)

Kemi Fajana, chief executive officer of Twinsfaja Group, is an extraordinary female entrepreneur who has over the years taken the company to greater heights by a dint of hard work. In this interview with NGOZI OKPALAKUNNE, she shared the success story of the Group, and the vision for the future. Excerpts:

Could you please briefly tell us about your company, Twinsfaja Nigeria Limited?

Thank you. Twinsfaja Nigeria Limited started as a building materials dealer, but has grown into a strong brand with bragging right as one of the conglomerates with interests in supermarkets, oil and gas, real estate, and more. My husband, Chief Taiye Fajana started the building materials business before I joined him after marriage, and since the past 20 years, the business has grown so much, providing basic needs, and connecting millions of buyers and sellers around the country, empowering people, and creating economic opportunity for many.

Today, we have more than 100 trucks of 60 tons capacity for the business line. There are also some smaller buses with lower capacity. The supermarket is stressful though. Is it also rewarding to compensate for the stress? Yes, it is. If I don’t get any money in it, I will not do it again.

It would seem that your exposure to the market is helping the business. Could you speak to that?

Yes. The ideas I got from travelling to Cotonou, Lome, Ghana, and later to Dubai, America, London, and other countries, the desire to diversify the business base have began to build up. I usually travel to Ghana to buy iron rods but also move to Accra market to buy baby products to sell back home. It was when Nigeria banned those things that I bought from Ghana that I met a friend who introduced me to Dubai, and I started buying from there. While still visiting Ghana, I saw that people made T-shirts for their staff in their shops, and I replicated this with Ankara materials for my staff in Lagos. At that time, it was difficult to identify me and my staff because we dressed the same way. We ended up with so many shops and so many products in Ikotun market. It was such that you must see Twinsfaja in any part of Ikotun market that anyone visited then. It got to a point when the staff working with my husband were not performing as expected, and at that point, I decided to team up with him to drive the business. I could go to the office in the morning and stay till 5:00 p.m. before going back to see how things were in the market. I always replicate things I see whenever I travel out of the country. I ask to be put through whenever I do not understand what I see. It is not by my power. It is the grace of God.

Read also: Crowdfunding: ‘Retail investors can come to the platform to seek investments of their choice’

With the stress and reward in managing the business, what are the real challenges?

For the building materials line, controlling the drivers is not an easy job. You could be called around 1:00 a.m. for issues such as accidents, insurance, and others. Sometimes, one could be distressed, but life continues. Challenges in the supermarket line have to do with the staff. You may get 20 staff today and by next month, they will go, and you will be left with the issue of recruiting and training new staff to enable them perform perfectly. There are also external factors. During the #EndSARS issue, for instance, one of our supermarkets, a two-storey facility in Ikotun, was completely looted with the computers and air conditioners removed. I was only given N4.5 million as compensation. The exchange rate, among other challenges, is another external factor that business is grappling with.

Where is Twinsfaja Group seeing fresh opportunities for nourishment in the Nigerian market?

We have started small in real estate business. Apart from this, we are planning to go into manufacturing to support our building materials business, starting with nails. We are the number one customer of most of the factories in Nigeria.

May we know what has enabled you to run a successful conglomerate?

Truth and trust are the main keys. One thing that is helping us is that we are always standing on the truth. The trust is always there. It is exactly what you ask for that you get from us. Our customers can send money to us and stay assured that they can have what they want. We are working with all the major real estate developers in Lagos. Alhaji Aliko Dangote supports our business in so many ways. He intervenes when the need arises. Sometimes, he gives us trucks and sends staff to us when we need some. He sends helmets and drivers’ kits to us.

How prompt are you in meeting your customers’ needs in terms of supply?

We supply major real estate developers. Our biggest office is around Sangotedo. It is on one acre of land. If you need ten or more trucks of cement today, you will get it as soon as we confirm your payment to us. We are also open to partnerships with organisations that want to be supplied with building materials, such as cement, iron rods, and more. Those who love shopping can reach out to our supermarkets for unique experiences. Our supermarket is unique and different from other supermarkets in Lagos. It is so because it is available and affordable. What we are selling, such as household items, wears, and babies’ needs, can change the buyer completely.