Amidst the various uncertainties occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is hope that discerning and dynamic individuals can still built lasting, successful businesses with the right information and strategies.
This was the idea that dominated proceedings at Vantage Forum, a high-level business outlook event held recently. Organized by frontline Lagos-based The Elevation Church (TEC), Vantage Forum is a high-profile annual business and economic outlook event, that provides insight for strategic business positioning. It is targeted at business owners and business executives.
Held virtually for the first time in 7 years, Vantage Forum 2021 brought together a broad spectrum of experts that analysed the Nigerian business landscape and recommended strategies for building lasting businesses in these uncertain times. At the event, thousands of entrepreneurs, business executives and aspiring business practitioners across the world converged on the cyberspace to listen to some of the best minds on business and economy in Nigeria.
The event hosted eminent business and economic experts such as renowned Economist, and CEO, Financial Derivatives, Bismarck Rewane; and Digital Empowerment Advocate and Director, Google Nigeria, Juliet Ehimuan who both spoke at the general session. Speakers at the specialized breakout sessions include Kunle Soriyan, Global Influence Consultant, who spoke on ‘Demystifying Blockchain and Cryptocurrency’; and Head Human Capital, Stanbic IBTC, Funke Amobi, who spoke on ‘How to Keep your Team Motivated to Achieve and Sustain High Performance’.
Others are Yemi Faseun, Senior HR Executive, Globacom, who spoke on ‘The Future of Work – What Employers and Employees Must Understand’; and Dr. Chinyere Almona, CEO, Vantage Coaching & Consulting Services, who spoke on the Strategic Importance of Corporate of Governance for Sustainable Growth.
Bismarck Rewane, the Managing Director and CEO of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, a macro-economic research and financial advisory firm in Lagos, Nigeria, spoke on ‘The Nigeria and African Economic Outlook in 2021’.
Rewane explained that gradual recovery of the economy is expected as the coronavirus vaccines begin to circulate and become more available to Nigerians. Select sectors with significant investment potential in 2021 include Manufacturing, Telecommunications, Insurance, and Industrial.
The renowned economist, who remarked that deficit financing will likely be sourced from new borrowings, also predicted that Nigeria will stop multilateral borrowing from IMF due to its rising debt stock. While low interest rates may remain in Q1 and Q2 2021, the rates are expected to go up later in the year. Tightening economic policy stance is expected from the CBN by Q3 2021. Meanwhile, inflation is already high and will likely remain so in 2021.
Some fiscal policy imperatives to watch out for in 2021 includes the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), timely passage of the 2021 budget by the national assembly, increased domestic borrowing. Also, reality may compel the government to increase excise rates, and VAT, which may hit 15% by 2025. He also predicted that oil is likely to stay above $53 pb, due to OPEC+ intensifying efforts to avoid glut while Nigeria’s oil production is likely to increase.
“In navigating uncertainties, one must know the factors which include known and unknown,” said Rewane, “When the unknown unknowns are more than the known unknowns, it reduces confidence and leads to investor paralysis which undermines economic growth.”
Juliet Ehimuan, who was the keynote speaker, shared insights on ‘The Crucial Role of Technology in the New Normal.’ The technology advocate analysed how the pandemic has stimulated rapid changes in the way business is done and how digital technology is helping businesses cope with the new normal. One of the realities of this new normal is that people just prefer less interaction just to stay safe.
“Technology is no longer a nice to have nor is it optional. It is important to be deliberate and leverage on technology,” said Ehimuan, who analysed the five major ways technology is enabling business as Connectedness, Continuity, Collaboration, Competition, Capacity Building.
She advised entrepreneurs and business owners to look at their service offerings and look at the parts that are location specific and the ones that can be administered from anywhere in the world. There are lots of data and information that can help create robustness for whatever project people are working on. There are also online tools, mostly cloud-based, like the office 365 tools from Microsoft.
“Think about not just selling your products but what is the value you are creating? Put yourself in the shoes of your end users,” Ehimuan said about how to do digital marketing.
Meanwhile, the profile of Vantage Forum continues to rise as a platform for galvanizing national development through the sharing of business insights and economic analyses. It’s capacity for empowering current and aspiring business owners continues to grow as much as its attendance, gathering thousands from across the world in its latest edition. As Vantage Forum gets bigger, its potential to galvanize knowledge for development is increasing, not just for the individuals attending, but also for the nation.
According to the Host of Vantage Forum and Lead Pastor of The Elevation Church, Godman Akinlabi, “Vantage Forum is focused on empowering individuals to achieve the highest levels of distinction in their businesses and careers through provision of resources such as business seminars, workshops and mentorship programs. The quality of the discourse makes it an event more suited to senior business executives, owners of medium sized businesses and high net-worth individuals”.
Akinlabi believes the church needs to go beyond their religious functions to add tangible values to the society, and this includes stimulating economic progress.
The pastor, who has been very vocal on public issues has urged the Nigerian church to prepare the Nigerian youth for personal and communal leadership, for governance and strategic sectoral empowerment, as well as for fervent and effectual participation in the electoral process.
The emergence of churches like The Elevation Church has led credence to the argument that the church can help lift Nigeria out of its present economic and political conundrum.
The Elevation Church has placed a lot of emphasis on capacity development. Through a series of capacity development programs, the people are empowered to play their part in the attainment of greatness. The Elevation Church is on a mission to make greatness common and Vantage Forum is has emerged as one of the most effective tools for doing that.