Many of his childhood friends had told him the dream of owning a rice company, which he had nursed from childhood, was just a mirage.
He has also failed exams in school because of focusing mostly on nurturing his ideas but remained determined that one day his dreams will come alive.
Today, Mohammed Adamu Mohammed is the Chairman of Guarantee Investment Global Services Nigeria Limited, makers of Guarantee Rice brand. He is also into other sectors of the economy.
During a chat with our reporter in his office in Kano, the young man explained how perseverance, hard work and determination can wheel to reality, the dream of an individual.
“I am 35 years old. I can say I was born naturally as an entrepreneur. I don’t like anything unless when you’re talking about business. I failed exams. I failed to be promoted to the next class because of my business. When I started thinking of having my own company, I called some of my close friends -about five of them, and told them I wanted to have a company with the name ‘Guarantee’ but they said ‘this is just a dream. This is not America, this your dream will not come through, so go to your school, make sure you graduate and get employed’ but I told them I have hope that everything will be fine. They said ‘we are not part of it.’
“So, after some years, I completed my secondary school and I had a business plan. Then, my first budget was N45,000. I wanted to set up a small business and I kept asking people to finance my business plan but everybody I met said they cannot do that; it was frustrating so I gave up. However, after some months, I gathered N20,000 and started doing business. I’m telling you today, those who criticized my idea in the last 15 years or so, some of them are employees in this company. Some of them are benefiting much from this company and I am happy that from 2007 to date, I’ve given not less than hundred people jobs directly in some instances and training because what keeps me excited is not that you’re working with me, no, after you leave me for one reason or the other, I see you succeed. My previous employees are successful people today,” he said.
The young man, who has diversified his investment into other sectors of the economy, explained how agriculture, particularly the rice value chain, got his attention.
“We started with marketing of rice in 2017; we bought many tones from the manufacturers, and then sold it as distributors and marketers. Later, we recognized the challenges of rice millers in meeting demands and that eventually led us to venture into milling. So, we started building our milling plant at the end of 2018 and it was completed in 2019. We equally started production in 2019, this, is, in a nutshell, what is bringing us into rice processing. We saw the gap between demand and supply, so we came in with our own contributions,” he said.
Looking back to where he started on the rice project so far, the 35-year-old entrepreneur is happy with where he is today, with much focus on the journey ahead, while capitalizing on customer base to drive expansion.
“Our customers are across the nation, particularly East and West. They send us money and we produce rice for them and also we have market here in Kano. We have distributors and dealers for our rice. I feel excited seeing my rice in the stores within and outside the city,” he said.
Even though there are many bigger players in the industry in Kano, he is not threatened. In fact, he sees it as opportunity to be more creative and remain resolute in business, saying that “a genuine entrepreneur does not care whether there is competition or not, what I don’t like to see is an industry where there is no competition.”
Speaking on the future of the company in terms of rice, he said: “We have three plans for sourcing paddy because as a company you don’t go for single formula. You have to adopt multiple formulas at least for eventuality because you can be disappointed anytime but with plan ABCD, it will work out. The first plan is off-takers agreement; we have signed some agreements with some off-takers where we finance farmers’ production and at the end, we take the rice at the rate of the market value. Secondly, we give LPOs to some suppliers we have agreement with so that when we have shortage of raw materials, they can supply us. The third plan we have is that we want to establish a particular farm for the company.”
As a young entrepreneur, his biggest challenges are the high interest rates, multiple taxations by local government, state government and other agencies. Another issue is access to finance where he noted that despite CBN’s numerous programmes, “you can apply but sometimes you can spend two years without anybody contacting you and even if you keep following up, you will find out that the previous application portal has been closed and a new portal for you to go back and apply.”
Despite these challenges, the agric entrepreneur’s vision is not only to own a company but something bigger than that.
“My ambition is big. I have no interest in politics, the only thing I’m interested in is I want to be the next Dangote of Africa.
“This is my vision and I believe the way I am working hard with prayers, one day, I can reach where I want to, but it is not going to be easy,” he believed.