By Chinwndu Obienyi
When about 25 years ago, Sir Ndukwe Osogho-Ajala, founder and Chief Executive, Soulmate Cosmetics Industries Limited, took the giant step to set up what has turned out to be one of Africa’s leading personal care brands, perhaps not many Nigerians gave him a chance of surviving in an economy where the average lifespan of small and medium scale industries is about five years.
Today, however, the mustard seed sown in 1992 has grown into a global brand that is meeting the diverse needs of a select clientele. This also explains why the staff and management of the company rolled out the drums last weekend to celebrate Soulmate at 25. The event commenced with a lecture and cocktail, with the grand finale held last Saturday in Ikeja, Lagos.
According the founder, a whole lot is going on even as the family and friends of the foremost industrialist used the occasion to appreciate and show gratitude to God for the successes and experiences garnered over the past quarter of a century doing business in Nigeria’s challenging economy. Sir Ndukwe Osogho-Ajala has a lot to say.
In the beginning
Soulmate Industries Limited commenced production of hair care products on January 8, 1992. The company, since its inception a little over two decades ago, has diligently pursued technical excellence and produced high quality products that compete favourably with any brand across the globe. Over the years, Soulmate has invested heavily in research and this investment has assisted us in gaining public recognition as producers of high quality products.
Our journey to where we are has not been without challenges. However, with doggedness and faith in God, we have remained consistent and focused. Our core values, which are resilience, integrity, consistency and humility have been the bedrock of our success. We have refused to compromise on quality despite the challenging economic conditions. On the contrary, we have consistently devised ways of improving the quality of our products to satisfy our esteemed customers. For us, customer satisfaction and experience are the fundamental reasons for our existence.
We know we are operating in a very competitive industry but we are not worried about our competitors. We are concerned about our customers who need to get more value for their money. This is what drives us and this is why we have remained innovative in our production activities.
We are not unaware of the plight of the under-privileged around us. We understand our corporate social responsibility as an organisation and this we have not neglected. Several lives have been affected in one way or the other as a result of our activities geared towards affecting the lives of the under-privileged among us. The company is also contributing its quota towards the growth of the Nigerian economy as it is helping to solve the unemployment problem in the country.
Investing in research and development
Our mission is to be dedicated to researching and developing high quality and effective products that contribute to restoring and maintaining the hair’s health and beauty. With much understanding of the importance of healthy hair, Soulmate range of hair products are uniquely formulated to promote, restore and maintain your hair for a more beautiful you.
Our core values are team work, integrity, hard work, discipline, excellence and fear of God. We are proud to say that we have not deviated from these values since inception. This has assisted us tremendously in keeping a disciplined and highly focussed workforce. We have a rich tradition of spotting, developing and encouraging talents through a well defined hiring practice that has enabled us to deliver promptly to our customers. We maintain very good rapport with our suppliers and clients. We maintain a healthy workforce and have highly skilled and well motivated employees.
They are the kings we know because we are still in business today due to their support and patronage. To all our esteemed customers, thank you for believing in the Soulmate brand. We’ve worked over these years to justify the confidence they reposed in us.
The company is totally committed to its customers and has structured its operations along functional groups that enable it provide superior service delivery and world-class products that favourably compete with other products. We have institutionalised a culture of excellence and we are sure this will pass the test of time from generation to generation.
Over the years, we have carefully managed our perception and are proud to say we are unique in our identity and creativity. We are known as a company of integrity and this has generated a lot of goodwill for us. We have also maintained a strong relationship with our industry professionals and this has enabled us to stay afloat despite the frequent changes in government policies and the harsh economic environment. We also maintain a healthy and cordial relationship with government organisations.
Our products are fully approved by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Federal Government agency responsible for food and drugs administration and control in Nigeria, and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON). The products’ trade mark is equally registered. The company is a member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) as well as Cosmetics Manufacture and Ethics Association of Nigeria (COSMEAN).
Surviving as SME
Deriving from its culture, the company keeps striving to focus its creative energy in maintaining a product formulation that appeals to all the sense organs; good quality products and service sustained with high innovative factors and strategic planning.
Our workers are our greatest assets. They are persevering, honest, hardworking individuals. Most of them are devoted people who represent us in a dignified manner. Our reward for their efforts is continuous training and fair remuneration. We say a very big thank you for the 25 years you have given us, and we look forward to many more successful years ahead with you.
We say a very big thank you for the 25 years God has given us, and we look forward to many more successful years ahead with Him. Today we are celebrating the triumph of an idea called Soulmate, an idea that came to fruition 25 years ago. Walt Disney said “all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them”. This is a truism, which is reflected in the emergence of Soulmate Industries.
However, the company is no longer an idea or dream. It has become a brand, a big one by any industry standard. Despite the tense competition that is prevalent in the industry in which we operate, we have emerged as one of the leading brands in the hair care sub-sector of the cosmetics industry in Western Africa region.
Competing in global markets
Since inception, we have undergone several metamorphoses and have today evolved into an international brand. This transformation is evident in the quality, branding and packaging of our products. We can be proud of our structural transformations that have helped us get where we are today. Our ranges of products are highly sought after in different parts of Africa and we are proud to say our products can compete with its contemporaries anywhere in the world.
We also wish to appreciate all those who in various ways and at various times have contributed to our success story. To all our business associates, I say thank you for your support. To our competitors in the industry, thank you for giving us reason to be innovative thus making us one of the leaders in the industry.
God Almighty has been merciful to us and favoured us as an organisation. To him alone be all the glory for where we are today. To all staff of Soulmate Group, I say a big thank you for your unwavering loyalty and continuous dedication to work.
To my wife, children and extended family members, your sacrifice and support is unquantifiable. May I again say that we are grateful to God for where we are today. However, I believe we have a great future ahead of us and we shall get there.
I congratulate all staff of the company, customers and other stakeholders for being part of this epoch making event. I wish you all a joyous celebration and happy 25 years anniversary as we look forward to many more successful years ahead with you.