BY CHRISTY ANYANWU
Yariv Paul Brosh, an engineer and entrepreneur is an Ieraeli with a Nigeria heart. A globetrotter by inclination, the foreigner who also holds the chieftaincy title of Aguatu of Awka, Anambra State declares he knows the country inside out having lived and worked in the country for 17 years. Since his arrival in Nigeria, Brosh, an engineer by profession, has not worked outside his chosen field and preferably, in Israeli-owned construction companies. Today, he is the founder and Executive Director of companies. Beyond the frontiers of engineering, Brosh has passion for wine production. This new found love also led him to establish Intercontinental Wine & Beverages Limited. In this interview, the Israeli who says he enjoys life on the sea speaks on his life experiences, business and lots more.
You have been in Nigeria for 17 years, what is your perception of the country?
Nigeria is my country. I can boldly tell you so because, I probably know Nigeria better than the average Nigerian. I travel a lot. Literarily, I have been every part of Nigeria. By virtue of birth, I’m half-African, half Bulgarian. My father was born in Morocco and my mother is from Bulgaria. Of course, I enjoy the food here. I like Egusi soup, I like pounded yam. My cook is good at preparing both delicacies. I have maintained a long relationship here. We have invested much money in the last one decade in our companies and we have achieved big success. We have invested in the construction, commerce and at the end of the day, our investments have yielded fruits. We really thank God for it. My philosophy is live and let’s live. If you live here and consider Nigeria as your home, you would achieve success on the long run.
Can you reflect on your childhood years?
I grew up in Israel. I was born in 1972 just before the Arab-Israeli war.In Israel, we survive literally on our soil. It was always difficult in terms of security but you were born into that environment and you have to live with that. I was drafted into the Army in 1990. I started in the Israeli IDF. I served for six months in Israeli Air force and later in the TANK. I served in the tank for three years and I was released from the army. I gained admission into the polytechnic to study civil engineering and I graduated as a structural engineer. I work as a structural engineer for three years before I traveled to Cyprus to carry out my first construction work. I traveled to Nigeria to join SCC Limited; one of the biggest Israeli construction companies in Abuja. In 2007, I joined the GZ Group as the chief engineer, and rose to become the General Manager. Shortly after, I became the managing director and currently, a partner in the group.
What has life taught you?
Life has taught me a lot. But in summary, if you are straightforward, if you don’t pretend, if you are a hardworking person, with time, you would achieve everything. One other thing that I was taught, even though not by life but by time, is that God exists. God is among us but many people have ignored that fact. But if you go by the signs, God is here with us, God is trying His best to help us but sometimes, we don’t like to help ourselves. We need to believe in ourselves, be more peaceful, and respect one another. It took to realise that we need to believe in ourselves and God, and more importantly, the Family.
From GZ Group to Fun wine, how did you come about wine business?
It’s a funny story.When we started producing aluminum can, I told myself that we were selling cans and making money but somebody would fill the the can with liquid, market it and make much money than we do. I said to myself, we need to find something to fill the can. From 2007, I thought of it. In 2012, I knew I got the inspiration to go into wine business and in partnership with a renowned beverages specialist, we started. The first initiative was not successful. It was called just wine. When we came with fun wine, it turned out to become the wine of the people. We have currently, 18 flavors but in three years time, we will grow it to over 100 flavours. For us to produce a flavor, we do research and development for three months. It’s a ready-to-drink cocktails. We use special engineering knowledge to get a very clear wine that contains biological natural flavours.
What’s your vision for the business in Nigeria?
Our vision is very simple. We are all engineers in our group.We are five founders trying to buy relative advantage to the people. We want to open a winery here which will contain raw materials from abroad. We will process the wine here, we will do the fermentation here, we will pasteurize it and mix it with our unique engineering, fill it into our filling facilities. We are going to do bulk cans and bottles both aluminum can and glass bottles. Our vision is to build our industry. We are producing it in our facility in Germany. Customs duties and levies on shipped products to any ECOWAS port or Nigeria is about 80 percent. Once we produce here, the prices will be reduced and of course, more employment will be created for the youths.
How do you relax?
I work hard during the time for work but when I’m not working. I’m a skipper. I love to take my boat and go on a ride with my wife with kids. I like to travel around the world, meet new people, and visit new places. The truth of the matter is that my work is also my hobby. I love what I do. I don’t have a problem working for 24 hours. I also love to read, play chess, and to travel around the world, explore different countries and cultures. I’m about to obtain my international skipper licence to enable me fulfill my dream of crossing the ocean with a sailing boat along with my family. I love to study in any field I enter and I learn fast. I know 80 percent of every subject.
You said you love Nigerian food, what of Nigerian dresses?
I have traditional outfits which I wear when I attend ceremonies. In 2007, I was offered a chieftaincy title which I declined. By 2013, I accepted the title which is Aguatu of Awka. That is where I did the biggest project; it was a water treatment plant. 100,000 cubic meter a day or 100 million litres of drinking water. I have traditional attires, I have my cap, and bracelets. I have different traditional outfits for different occasions. My wife also loves Nigerian fashion. I don’t want to mention the name of her designer. She has very nice designs with nice and quality fabrics. For me, I can wear simple fabrics as long as it’s nice but my wife, if she pay less than 250 dollars she would not consider such outfit as a cloth. She likes spending money on clothes. Our last occasion in Israel, we both went with the traditional clothes and people thought we were out of our mind. We were laughing because we knew where we came from, where we got our money from and what to do to appreciate the country, Nigeria. People always ask me to describe Africa in one word. I call Nigeria another America. For instance, when people travel to America what do they go there for? They have unlimited opportunities in the country and I believe that Africa has more unlimited options. I believe that Africa is America; a land of unlimited opportunities.
How did you meet your wife?
I’m married to Keren Cohen, a talented Architect, a holder of MSC in Advanced Architecture from Robert Gordon University in Scotland. After her graduation, she came to work in Israel and I worked in engineering field then. Our offices were close to each other and we met in the toilet. She was there washing her hand and I wanted to walk by. I asked her to give way and she did. I went to wash my hands because I had just finished an orange. We washed our hands together and since then we have been washing our hands together. We are blessed with four children. The senior girl, Naya aged 15 was born while I was living in Abuja. She showed leadership traits when she was elected to be instructor of boy scout. She studies in high school, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Sciences. She shows interest in business. Arad is 13 years old. He was born during the time the family lived in Israel. He is very good using his hands and recently, he invented a self-warming jacket. Hally is eight years old and was born in Lagos. She is an excellent student in elementary school. She is practicing dancing in school and loves to play soccer. Liel, the junior baby boy will be three years old in November. With his long hair waiting for his first haircut based on the Jewish tradition to allow a boy grow like a tree before the first trimming.