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Obi Ezeude: Celebrating hope for young Nigerians

Your story in business ventures and ultimately coming this far in manufacturing and founding the Beloxxi Industries is a unique tale that inspires.

Your personal narrative always exudes hope, firm and unflinching belief in the economic potential of Nigeria.

Because I witnessed it conceived and worked into reality, I have come to know that it is not mere textbook talk to say that dreams do blossom into great realities because I was there when the government of Nigeria declared ban in biscuits import. All turned bright and big so fast.

The response you gave my concern concerning that new law was rather the opposite of what anyone would expect. In what others would have seen disappointment and a road end, you saw a detour to higher ground, away from importation to manufacturing.

You worked on that dream assiduously and here we are today celebrating multi-million naira manufacturing addition to the real sector of Nigeria’s economy.

Through that dream that incubated in you like a developing embryo, over 2,700 Nigerians have directly been impacted in employment and many more indirectly.

Yet, while we applaud, you still move like one who is just starting, with bigger dreams ahead of you.

Today, the world joins The Sun to celebrate The Sun Manufacturer of the Year, 2017. I dare say it is an honour more than deserving.

Even two weeks ago as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo commissioned the second phase of the industry and laid the foundation for the third phase expansion in Agbara, Ogun State, Ezeude’s speech still dwelt so much on his belief in the potential of the nation’s economy and the need to create the enablers for the youths to morph into experts and lead the nation’s economic explosion in the near future.

The birth of Beloxxi as a trading company was in 1994 when the CEO conceptualized it. In the beginning, he set out purely to import and trade in goods. The goods were biscuits.

Over time, situation that made him broach the idea of manufacturing presented itself.

Like the real tactician, he latched onto it and got things moving so smooth and swift like an oiled wheel.

The wheel was however oiled by his well set out dream that drives his dare to what Beloxxi is today and what would unfold in the years to come as he says that given the extent of his target, the strides of Beloxxi today are just the tip of the real thing to come.

He left the USA after obtaining a degree in Banking and Finance back to Nigeria in his 20s when most in his generation in Nigeria even borrowed to travel to the US.

Ezeude started out importing biscuits and said: ‘My reason to start with biscuits was because I hadn’t much money and needed a business my little capital could afford.”

But in 2003, the government banned biscuits import, a development he said looked to him like an opportunity to fast-track an old longing to be a manufacturer.

His efforts to get into manufacturing with the Malaysian trading partners he sold their biscuits didn’t cut ice. He set to work on his own in a disused factory block in Ikeja, with a single production line that rolled out the Beloxxi Cream Crackers, the consumers’ delight in quality that hasn’t changed till date.

Few years later, his big dream nudged him again to expand because “we faced the challenge of meeting market expectation in product volume, and had to do something about it,” he explained.

A bigger factory was to follow at Agbara, that started with three production lines which expanded to six today. The second expansion phase was commissioned on February 8 this year.

The first phase of the Agbara project was commissioned in September 2010 by President Goodluck Jonathan.

On August I, 2016, for the first time, Ezeude’s Beloxxi, the most technologically advanced biscuits plants owned by an indigenous investor, divested minority shareholding to German prime investment bank, the KFW-DEG, a share value of $80m. The German Investment Bank with the 8Miles of London bought the shares that enabled Beloxxi commence its latest expansion to nine production lines, from an existing six production lines, and an allied packaging factory in Oregun soon to commence operation.

When the president of the bank, Mr. Bruno Wenn, visited Beloxxi Industries first time in October 2017, he was so delighted that he gave hope of more business with Beloxxi.

This international move by Beloxxi was well reported by the Financial Times of London and, the world’s largest newspaper, People’s Daily of China.

Over two years now, Beloxxi Cream Crackers is served aboard most out bound international airlines such as Lufthansa, KLM, British Airways, Emirates, Ethihad, Ethiopian, Kenyan, South African Airways.

The CEO said that the move for expansion will enable the company to increase the capacity of output from the current 40,000 to 100,000 metric tonnes of cream crackers per annum while the staff strength will grow to 6000.

In September 2010, when President Jonathan laid the foundation and also commissioned the new four-production line expanded Beloxxi, President Obasanjo whose administration started the assistance for Beloxxi was at the factory earlier.

Again, on February 8, 2018, Beloxxi was set for another roll, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Chairman of the Nigerian Industrial Council (NIC) which Ezeude is a member, was on hand to commission the second phase of the factory and lay the foundation for the commencement of work on the third phase – another three production lines to bring the total to nine on completion.

The second phase commissioning upped Beloxxi production capacity in six lines to 40,000 metric tonnes or 28m cartons of biscuits of the targeted 100,000 metric tonnes or some 62 million cartons of biscuits when the nine lines roll simultaneously. That is expected to happen by the first quarter of next year.

With better regime and incentives, Ezeude’s Beloxxi would grow bigger and others like him would be enabled to step into the economy and contribute for a better and more peaceful Nigeria.

The best word to you today, Ezeude, is a loud: Congratulation.

Uche Atuma :

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