[Interview] Joel Daniel, Founder, Solutions Platforms, Nigeria
Joel Daniel is the founder of Solutions Platforms, a company that grooms young people to succeed and have global relevance by leveraging its various programs designed to foster international education, with services from foreign tests tutoring, visa and admission application and processing to scholarship programs.
Tell us about your company
Solutions Platforms is a fast-growing international education and travel management company incorporated in Lagos, Nigeria and the UK. We are in partnership with over 1500 universities and colleges in the UK, US, Canada and Australia to help students gain admission into the school of their choice, with scholarships where applicable. We also register and prepare them for standardized tests such as the SAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, ACT, IELTS, Advanced Placement Subjects etc.
We also work with many secondary schools in Nigeria through our annual Scholars’ Platform Program – A program that shortlists the best students in Mathematics and English through a nationwide screening test. Importantly, our company is given to organizing tours and excursions for Primary and Secondary School students in Nigeria and other African countries.
We understand the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), hence the birth of our additional service scholars platform where exceptional students in secondary schools are given the opportunity to utilize our admissions services on discounted fees.
What's your platform's growth strategy for 2023?
The competition they say is rough and plentiful. As a company, one of our growth strategies for the year is to be intentional about digital marketing. Since we are a B2C company, we understand the power of an online presence and how the internet has helped brands grow and scale over the years. We have decided to channel our resources into social media marketing, especially content creation, that will not just be educative but also entertaining. We understand that our projects need to have a platform for engagement.
Also, we want to be strategic towards partnerships. It is no big news that business relationships with partners is very important. Business partners help you reach new markets, acquire new customers, get new ideas for further product development and more.
Furthermore, we have different projects we are working on introducing as an added service. Although things are being kept in place for this, we want to be well grounded with our current services before introducing the new project we are working on.
Lastly, instead of focusing on our competitors and what they are doing, we have decided to highlight and magnify our unique selling points. The highlight will be gotten from customers reviews and feedback. Most satisfied customers won’t hesitate to give a testimonial – some might even be glad to. We will post it proudly on our company’s website and social media pages and watch as we attract new potential clients from this.
What are the long term ambitions you’re aiming for, as an education outfit?
In today’s global economy, organizations are aiming for expansion and growth. Everyone wants to have a competitive advantage. As a company, our long-term ambitions are New Markets and Diversification. Both ambitions can only be achieved through the domination of international waters. Although we have a branch in the United Kingdom, we are yet to effectively utilize the market overseas.
We believe international expansion offers a chance to conquer new territories and reach more consumers, thus increasing sales. It will also enable us diversify our assets, an action that can protect our company’s bottomline against unforeseen events. For instance, through international operations we can offset negative growth in one market by operating successfully in another. We will also effectively utilize international markets to introduce unique products and services, which can help maintain a positive revenue stream. Countries we are looking into are African countries, U.S.A and across Europe.
How do you perceive the 2023 elections will impact local business and the economy, if at all?
One major concern on the minds of business owners is how the business landscape will be affected. We are looking forward to the policies of the new president. According to Naira metrics Nigeria’s exchange rate has depreciated by 76.5% between 1999 to-date against the US dollar, witnessing multiple devaluations at the official market, with even higher devaluations recorded in the unregulated markets.
We are yet to know the fate of local businesses after this general election but following the campaigns of the presidential candidates, they are all clamoring for the same thing - issue of exchange rate alignment and the removal of fuel subsidy, which is a hindrance to more foreign investment and also a huge bill for the FG (subsidy). We cannot categorically say local businesses benefited during the soon to be past administration, but we are certain the new administration will be different.
What government policies can be implemented for companies to thrive in Nigeria?
Government policy will always depend on the political culture of the moment. Policy crafted in a politically stable country will be different from that formed in an unstable country. A stable political system can make business-friendly decisions that promote local businesses and attract foreign investors.
Nigeria is a blessed country and the government can make and implement policies that will enable businesses thrive, policies such as
Lower Interest Rates. The Federal Reserve can alter the Federal Funds Target Rate – the figure that directly influences the prime interest rate – to stimulate lending to businesses and consumers. When the prime rate dips, borrowing becomes more profitable. This encourages businesses to expand and allows consumers to experience temporary increases in discretionary income.
Grants, Loans and Disbursements. The government has access to an entire population's worth of individual and business tax money, and has the ability to distribute that money to affect change throughout the economy. Another way is to fund agencies and programs such as the Small Business Administration, which provide assistance to startup entrepreneurs. Unemployment and other federal assistance benefits ensure that a large number of people have enough money to pay their bills, leaving them with extra discretionary income that generally falls into the hands of businesses.
How will Africa develop as a knowlegde economy in 2023 and how can companies contribute?
Knowledge is a prerequisite for rapid economic advancement. Knowledge-based economy refers to an economic system in which knowledge and intellectual capital are the primary drivers of economic growth and development. This includes using technology, innovation, and education to create and disseminate new knowledge and applying this knowledge to create new products, services, and industries. Any nation that fails to position itself properly in this global, knowledge-based market place will be increasingly unable to compete and harness the power of knowledge.
For African countries, this has created new challenges as well as new windows of opportunity. Africa can transform itself into a knowledge-based economy for accelerating its economic advancement and companies or businesses can be of great assistance.
Africa needs to close the knowledge gap and also to spur economic advancement and social welfare. These will include developing educated and skilled workers (especially through scientific research and technological development), creating an efficient innovation system, and building a dynamic information infrastructure. Also, companies can become hands on in the use of modern technology or let's say Information technology.
What are the opportunities for Agribusiness and Agritech in Africa in 2023?
Africa being one of the continents with largest landscape and population, Agribusiness and Agritech will strive better than ever if adequate measures are put into place. The economy is not favorable like it could be, a lot of policies that were made by the decision makers caused chaos in the economic sector. Agritech would help with higher crop productivity which would serve as a means of revenue generation. In some parts of the continent, there are reports of change in climatic conditions this year; Agritech would serve as a means of reducing impact of natural ecosystem on Agribusiness. South Africa and Nigeria have the largest agricultural areas. Respectively, they devote 96 million and 69 million of hectares of land to growing crops.Agribusiness employs the most people In the world, and Africa won't be an exemption considering our population.
The challenges faced by food systems in Africa are numerous. Agritech would look into the way foods are being produced and to be beneficial for the increasing productivity, increasing income and creating an environment that allows a sustainable primary production.
The continent's fast rise in population and its vast arable land coupled with Agric businesses all over with the innovations with Agritech would exponentially propel Africa forward in 2023.