How We Help Small Businesses To Grow – Falase | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How We Help Small Businesses To Grow – Falase

Posted: May 30, 2016 at 7:40 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Okanlawon Emmanuel Falase is chief executive officer of Pay Direct Investment and Support Services Limited located in Agege, Pen Cinema, Lagos. The company gives out loans to small and medium enterprises. The company also finances other projects for people at low interest rate.

In this interview, he tells Ikechi Nzeako how the firm has impacted the lives of its clients. He also speaks on other issues.


What led to the formation of Pay Direct Investment and Support Services Limited?

I was working at FCMB and I was inspired by pastor to start the company; so I resigned my without any blemish from the bank and today that holds the account of the company that I run. My pastor taught me to have a plan B to the job I was doing. The question was how do you make extra income in addition to what you are doing; how do you enlarge your coast? How do you use the resources that are available to move to a greater height in life?

What was the purpose of establishing the company?

The purpose of starting the company was to continue what I was doing while I was working at the bank. I have the spirit of giving; with my salary as small as it was, I found myself giving to the less-privileged in society. Then every Thurday when I went for marketing drive for the bank, I went to where beggars congregated and gave them money and clothes that I no longer needed. Sometimes I bought cheap clothes in bulk and distributed them to the beggars. When I was at the bank, I sometimes gave out part of my salary to my colleagues, who needed help. Before I joined the bank, I was into car sales business with an uncle who owned a car lot at Berger in Lagos. I studied accounting and, therefore, decided to go and work in the bank and while at the bank I was still getting some income from the car business because I was still in charge of selling some cars. While I was doing that, I discovered that I did not have the time to do any other business. I had extra money and friends and colleagues would come and borrow from me. I used to lend to them until one day when someone said I should allow him to use the money to trade. I asked him what he meant; he said he would return the money with interest and he did. Linking it to what Pastor Wole had been preaching in the church, I discovered that it could be another avenue to make more income. So I ventured into it and it paid off. I said to myself that the new business needed total concentration and I put it into prayer with Pastors Ore Sunday and they said to me that it was the way to go and that I should embark on it. The next thing I did was to work on the legal aspect of it and lawyers at Saliu and Saliu and Company helped and the company was registered.

When did you start the company?

We started in June last year and by the grace of God, the company will be celebrating its first anniversary this June.

And how has the experience been?

The experience has been wonderful and the result has surpassed all expectations. We stated with staff strength of six and we are now eight and we are working towards opening branches at Ogba, Igando and Agbara in Ogun State.

What is the loan repayment level?

Than God for the police, they appreciate a good thing when they see one. The police in Agege have men who will help us in the case that we have a stubborn customer who took loan and refused to pay back. However, we have not had a bad customer since we started. For real, our customers have been paying back before their due date; sometimes it may one day or two days late and we will see our money in the account or they bring it to our office.

What is the interest rate you charge compared to the one microfinance banks charge?

I will not disclose our interest rate but it is lower than what the microfinance banks charge; indeed we run at a minimal interest rate. You know that the business is capital intensive. We started the business with about N3 million and current turnover is N20 million.

Has the company received funds or loans from the government?

It has not received any loan from the government. We have only received help from friends, who had funds that they did not want to use at the time they gave us the money. In November last year when we needed more funds due to increased customer demand, we approached banks, including the Bank of Industry, and international foundations like the Ford Foundation, they all turned us down.

There is the N220 billion small and medium enterprises set aside by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and is being disbursed by the Bank of Industry and other commercial banks. Have you made effort to access part of this fund?

We approached the Bank of Industry and it described us as a non-governmental organisation and said that it does not give loans organisations like us. This is unacceptable to me because if a group of people like us can come together and pull resources and invest in the lives of thousands of people at a very high risk, it sounds ridiculous not to want to help us grow in order to help more Nigerians grow their businesses. I believe that everyone should lend their support to anyone who wants to help businesses grow in the country. This is because if businesses grow, they will employ more people and the more people are employed, the rate of unemployment will come down and more wealth will created in the country.

This is why we are giving out loans to Nigerians to help them grow their businesses. This is the passion that is driving us and we are forging ahead and moving ahead in spite of the challenges.

What is your assessment of the Nigerian business environment?

The business environment in the country is challenging and tough. The issue is that the leaders are not doing anything to support people like us who are helping others to grow. However, there is a huge potential in the Nigerian business environment and the people are making progress in spite of the challenges. If I saw potential in some people and I would fund their business, I say to them rent a shop and tell me what you want to put in the shop and I would provide finance to stock the shop and from your sales you start paying us back and it has been paying off. People we financed in that way have been paying us without giving us problems. Microfinance banks do not do that; they only support businesses that are already established and are always demanding collateral.