[Interview] Setonji Koshoedo, Principal Partner, Development Resources Designs, Nigeria
Setonji Koshoedo, together with his partners, founded in 2013 infrastructure development company, located in Abuja, Nigeria. His career covers Architecture, Construction, Civil Service and Politics.
His interview with Africa Business Communities:
What is Development Resources Designs and in what industries do you operate?
We are an infrastructure development company. We identify the needs of the society and propose designs to solve the problem. We operate within the Construction Industry, but as project managers. We are located in Abuja, because that is the base of those who will need our service.
What led to the starting of Development Resources Designs?
Early in my career, I started off as an Architect Civil Servant, then as an Architect Interior Designer, also a little bit of construction before having a bite of politics. My experience in politics opened my eyes to the needs of the society and the limitations of the people in power, which prompted the establishment of this company.
How would you describe the Start-up Environment in Nigeria in terms of support that is given by the government, investors and banks?
The environment is really bad for startups. Beautiful ideas don't easily attract support, but rather the old conventional ways which are not innovative enough to compete in the modern age. The environment is yet to recognize intellectual properties that can add values to the country’s development.
As for banks and investors, not much can be expected there, especially in the beginning stages. You have to carry the business physically to a level that is convincing enough, before they show any interest.
How effective is crowd funding as a tool for Start-ups in Nigeria?
It is an area that we have resorted to explore, being the best way out for funding. We can't really say that it is effective for now. We need to watch it grow. But it looks hopeful for starters like us.
How does the internet and social media affect the business environment, in Nigeria specifically?
Business is about making profit, and making profit is about volume. Internet and Social Media broadens your scope and makes you more visible in the business environment, which eventually implies more volume and more profit.
What changes have been noted in the months of a change in leadership in Nigeria?
The anti-corruption crusade, even if it's just the noise, has put some fear in people to compel them to do the right thing. This has given hope to businessmen, knowing that hopefully he or she can tender and get contracts awarded without a godfather pulling strings.
Do you think the Single Treasury System (TSA) will have a positive effect on the banking industry in Nigeria?
For some; yes. If only to save the PRs they have been paying to government officials for keeping their accounts. But for some; no. Because that has been their capital strength in their operations.
What would you say is holding back the African continent from reaching its full potential?
The world has become too dynamic to continue to use the old method to achieve a new thing. Lack of innovation in production and management is the problem. Colonialism has enslaved us to do things the old way. Africa needs to create her own innovative ways of doing things and managing herself with focus on a clear vision.
Back to your company: What does Development Resources Designs need to be able to grow?
Financial independence is vital in this business. We won't have to be working at the mercy of investors to carry out a project. This will give us the opportunity to explore more and able to take more risks.
Economically, how would you rate the performance of Nigeria thus far in 2015?
I hope I am not biased, but I’d say Nigeria is not doing badly. I say this because my measure of my doing well is how comfortable the people are. Compared to other African countries, even South Africa, I believe our standard of living is better off. For me, it's not by the western world’s ranking or rating figures.