With two economic recessions within a short period, amid other challenges, notably the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, with its impact still continuing today, the past decade has been very difficult for the corporate world as many companies that started well to break the decade are now struggling, while that others are dying.
However, there are some who have apparently defied economic headwinds for the decade to stay afloat and even grow their business profitably.
VFD Group Plc stands out among the companies that have not only continued in business during their first 10 years in business, but have also reinvented, grown their portfolio and attracted global partnerships and interest.
The investment company owned by it with several portfolio companies is a success story of how a Nigerian company is fulfilling its commitments to investors against all odds, in line with global best practices, and being competitive on the global stage.
The group started concentrating in the financial services sector, and built some impressive businesses in this sector, which are operating with great success.
But today, it has investment interests in technology, exchanges (NGX and NASD), real estate, hospitality, digital media, energy, oil and gas, asset leasing, arts, and cinematography, among others. All this combined with traditional banking, asset management and the core of investment banking.
Looking back at the days of small beginnings, it was a case of resilience, determination and integrity. That is why; From an initial capital of N2.5 million about 12 years ago and shares priced at N2 per share during the company’s initial capital increase, VFD Group Plc has grown and is currently priced at N368 per share in the Nigerian capital market. It has a market capitalization of 32 billion naira and investments in more than 40 companies across many sectors of the economy. It has been called a feat, but it is truly the enviable of a Nigerian company despite the many challenges of doing business in the country.
“It is great that the value of the VFD group is going up. We are currently listed on NASD, and it is available for any broker on the exchange to buy on behalf of their clients,” Nonsu Okpala, managing director of VFD Group Plc, said in a recent interview.
For Okpala, VFD Group has reinvented proprietary investing and taken it to the next level to become what he describes as an “industry-defying” owned investment firm. “This simply means that we are a company that continues to pursue profitable investment for ourselves and our stakeholders, across different investment options and companies, regardless of their industry,” he explains.
neutrality decision; A public investment firm, according to VFD Group’s GMD affiliate, it was created about four years ago to redefine the scope of the group’s investments from a company that was focused solely on financial services to general investing.
Today, this strategic decision is paying off with around 40 investments, of different levels of maturity, of different sizes and across different sectors. The most notable one, according to Okpala, is Vbank, a digital banking app. He explains that with Vbank, one can open and activate an account in less than three minutes to conduct transactions, receive and transfer funds, as well as implement certain assets and wealth management products on that platform.
Aside from the digital bank, the group’s magic wand has turned around Abbey Mortgage Bank, made Anchoria Asset Management more profitable through an alternative approach to investing, and significantly enhanced real estate returns through HEREL, a hospitality company that integrates the hospitality business model, real estate model, and Dynasty Real Estate , which developed real estate and wholly sold out properties in Lagos and Abuja.
For HEREL, the consistent delivery of a 20 percent ROI versus an average 5 percent return on real estate makes the model a compelling and worthwhile investment for investors.
However, the group considers its investment in PiggyVest, a technology company, as one of its most interesting. Although VFD Group owns about 12 percent of the company, Okpala demonstrates the interest by saying, “It is an investment that I am very excited about because it represents the future for us. It will do well in redefining how fintech takes financial services to the next level.”
GMD’s optimism about the tech company is based on the fact that it was founded and run by a group of smart, young, adventurous, and highly accomplished individuals.
What continues to work towards these successful investments is the fact that VFD Group considers the investment from a product perspective, from the needs and requirements of its different target customers in the market and aligning the product with the market segment it will sell to.
Looking back, Okpala attributes success so far to many factors. He points out that from the start, the founders were passionate about meeting the existential needs of potential clients, which they do more today.
“First, we were motivated to meet the existential needs of potential clients; that’s how we started. But most importantly, every founder of the VFD Group believes that we own our stuff, and it is what we make of it that will truly translate into reality,” he explains.
But the most important success for him, over more than a decade in business, is helping people achieve their dreams, so the group, according to him, is excited to continue to look for great opportunities, great teams and support people who can truly make a difference in their project and strive for leading businesses.
In summarizing the impact of human capital on the success of the group’s business, he said:There are basic things. The most important thing is that in investing, you gain a huge footprint by putting money in the right places, you gain a successful footprint by supporting the right people, and then you gain a lasting footprint by supporting the right people to build exceptional companies.
“So, this is what we do to ensure sustenance in all of these companies. We find the right management teams and we support them to create value for our stakeholders.”
He also did not forget the place of corporate governance in building and developing world-class businesses in all areas, noting that it is not just a requirement but a permanent strategy for success in the corporate world. “What we have achieved over the years is that we have created a platform for people to make investments and to have the confidence that their investments are being managed in their best interest.”
Speaking further, he insists that to maintain the integrity of the company, it is important for people to connect with your initiatives and, most importantly, to believe in your ability to act in their own best interest. “Once you can achieve that, anytime you ask for a capital raise, whether from the bank or the debt market, there will be enough governance, integrity, and track records of people to support you,” He says.
Once again, the business is designed and built to last; Hence they have weathered economic headwinds over 12 years, particularly the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group has begun to adopt a virtual tradition in its operations with approvals and discussions conducted via emails, phone calls, chats and WhatsApp. So, when the Covid-19 virus broke out, it didn’t disrupt its operations, but rather benefited from it.
Looking ahead, perhaps to another successful decade in business, he assures that once VFD Group Plc retains the firepower and the right team to identify good opportunities, it will continue to generate revenue, invest adequately, and generate more value for customers and business in the many years to come.
As written by Emilique Obena