Very few indigenous family based businesses survive for more than a decade or even get passed on from one generation to the other the world over. According to CNN’s Kathleen Ryan O’Connor ‘Two thirds of family businesses fold before reaching the second generation and just 12% make it to the third’. And in the last two, three decades, several business examples exist to reveal that fact. But one such indigenous brand which looks set to cross that mark is the Eleganza brand.
For the Eleganza brand it could be said to be growing better as the years rolls by. The merchandising brand which is known for its range of home utensils, school and children’s products has come through the years and is looking stronger. And the man behind the brand, Rasaq Okoya continues to push the boundaries of entrepreneurial excellence.
The company as it stands has just gone through a re-birth with the new Eleganza Industrial City and is poised to set the mark for home-grown industries. The industrial city which stands head and shoulder high above such of its likes, sits on a 30,000 hectares expanse of land along the Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos, Nigeria and now houses factories fitted with highly sophisticated, state-of-the-art machineries for the production of such items as chairs, traveling bags, tables, warmers and other plastic products needed for everyday use.
This is possible in part to Alhaji Razaq Okoya’s partnership with expatriates from South Korea, China, India, and Saudi Arabia who are working alongside their Nigerian counterparts. With this, the transfer of the technical know-how to the indigenous workers is assured and will ensure that Nigerians are strategically positioned to take over operations in due time. This is laudable as it opens up job opportunities to Nigerians and will help in no small measure to cut the rate of unemployment in the country.
For the man behind the indigenous brand that has for now stood the test of time and weathered the storm of social and political downtimes through the years through which it has been affected at some point or the other but nevertheless stood firm, Razak Okoya has shown overtime the tenacity and forthrightness needed to keep going in the entrepreneurial world.
The man who turned 74 last January has not only stuck to his guns but now has one of his wives Sade Okoya join in to inject fresh ideas and managerial insight into the brand as she now acts as the Acting Managing Director of the Elaganza Group.
Okoya who is the Aare of Lagos began the entrepreneurial journey at an early age after learning the ropes of trading from his father who was a tailor. He began by trading in tailoring materials on his own thereafter progressed to importation of goods at a time when others were content with just buying goods already brought into Lagos from neighboring countries. This he was able to achieve from savings and a startup seed from his mother with his father’s blessing.
On what inspired his decision to venture into business he says “In school, I could see my teacher in worn and often shabby clothes and at the same time, I could see the well-dressed businessmen of Dosunmu Street, the heart of business in Lagos then. It was easy for me to choose business life.” And on the secret of making it in business he posits saying “You do not do business for the ego value. You go for what the people can afford. In business, you have to ensure that the masses are able to afford the cost of your products. That is one of my secrets,”
With the Eleganza Industrial City, Alhaji Razaq Akanni Okoya, Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) is on a mission to lead the industrial revolution in Nigeria as opposed to dependence on the importation of products into the country which presently is what obtains and is on a mission to further entrench the Eleganza brand into the daily lives of not just Nigerian households but Africans as a whole. Hopefully in another decade or so, we will still be able to make reference to the giant strides of the brand.