The President/Chairman, De-West Wind Nigeria, Jim Omaraye, has revealed that his new business was put in place to offer competitive, affordable and qualitative services to Nigerians in ride sharing and pickups.
Tell us about De-West Wind Nigeria and why you are investing in Nigeria
The West Winds Nigeria is a subsidiary of the De-West Wind USA. We noticed that foreigners are dominating the Nigerian business scape especially in the area of telecoms and ride sharing. It came to a point where we must ask ourselves ‘should we continue to allow foreign companies dominate the Nigerian market.’ In the next 20 years, Nigeria is going to be one of the largest economies in the world, so it is about time that Nigerians, especially those in the Diaspora embark on massive investment in the economy such that we can generate employment. We have a lot of graduates who left school years ago but have no jobs. I just interviewed a guy who has a masters degree and what he told me shocked me. These are the things that motivated me to come back home so that I can contribute my own quota towards the growth of the economy.
What inspired your business idea?
It began with De West Wind USA. It was in the middle of the night, around 2am, some years back when my 10-year-old son suddenly took ill. All I needed was to give him an across-the- counter-pain relief medication but I couldn’t find any in my first aid box. I was like, at 2am, what am I going to do? One of my staff directed me to a CVS store. On my way home I said ‘wait a minute, I have barely two hours to get home and sleep before hitting the road again for work in the morning. How I wish there is a delivery service that could have taken this burden off me.’ I imagined a situation where I could just go online, use an app and order for whatever I wanted, and have it delivered at my doorstep. So, I started brainstorming and when I got to the office that morning, I called one of my technicians; I said ‘Vicky, what do you think about setting up a business that can do this?’ She was like ‘wow! This is going to be a hit.’ And that was how De West Wind USA was born, and we started doing delivery service and direct pickups. If you have something you want to pick up from one location and drop at another, all you need to do is go to google play or apple store, download our app and give us instructions and one of our drivers will do the delivery. Today, De WestWind USA is a strong brand and we have presence in several states in the US. We do direct pickups and grocery shopping. You can do your shopping through our website which has over 100, 000 items. You can buy online from our domain and we ship to you. We are interconnected with over 100 departmental stores.
What are your fears about the Nigerian market?
I feel Nigerian market is not ready for the kind of services we render in the US, so we had to come up with a unique concept. As a matter of fact, I did not know that Uber was already here when we brought the concept to Nigeria in 2016. A cab in Abuja picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at the hotel. When I was going back to Lagos, I called the cabman again because I had his number, so he took me to the airport. During the ride, the idea suddenly struck me. I was like ‘I wish I could just use an Uber like app in Nigeria like we do in the US.’ I told a friend and he informed me that Uber had hit the Nigerian market recently. So, when we decided to roll out, our vision was to provide a unique service in the form of ride sharing and marry it with one of the things that we do in the US which is direct pick-ups and dispatches. We are giving 90 percent of money earned to drivers; I don’t think any other company is doing that. We take only 10 percent commissions. The reason why we are coming here is primarily not because of the money. We are not here to exploit Nigerians but to generate employment and that is why we want to encourage drivers to come aboard because they are going to make a lot of money driving for us.
If you have a club, union, a forum of gentlemen or whatever and you are a group of 20 and above, you can enroll. All you need to do is pay subscription either monthly, quarterly or yearly. When you do that, all the members of that group enjoy 50 per cent discount. Churches, mosques schools, companies, name it. You can imagine a brewery organisation with more than 10, 000 employees; lets imagine they decide to outsource the ferrying of their staff to work and back home or dispatch orders to De-WestWind in order to cut cost, they get 50 per cent discount. If you have a large family, you can do group registration for all of you and pay the monthly or quarterly subscription. Each time any member of that group uses our service, they get 50 percent discount. Also, we realised that there are several companies that don’t have resources to employ as many drivers as they want, so they outsource. This is going to service companies and individuals in a unique way.
How about security of drivers and passengers?
We have a safety feature. Before you take a ride, when your driver arrives; you ask him ‘what is the four-digit pin?’ This four digit pin is only known to you and the driver. This is necessary because we just got a situation where a college girl in the United States got killed because she entered the wrong cab. Another thing that makes us unique in the ride sharing business is that you have an option to register your next of kin. You can choose your friend, sister, brother or your husband but what is the purpose? The reason we ask you to put the phone number and email of your next of kin is that any time you take a ride with us, your next of kin can track your movement and this is addressing the security issue in a unique way. The next of kin could be a family member or friend.
Which states are you starting with?
It is going to be a nationwide affair. Our intention is to roll out all these services across Nigeria at once but like you know, Nigeria is huge. If you are doing this kind of business, you cannot hit all the states at once hence we decided to start off with seven states. We are in Lagos, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Enugu, Oyo and FCT Abuja.